Driven to Save Lives with Bendigo Bank

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As alcohol-fuelled situations put youth at risk, Georgia Beard reveals how a terrific trio are driven to save lives. 

When the big banks began to withdraw from regional and country towns 25 years ago, Bendigo Bank pioneered the Community Bank model, a Profit-for-Purpose model that has made a positive impact. 

In response to this banking void, locals took matters into their own hands and in 2008, local residents united and formed Sunshine Coast Community Financial Services Limited (SCCFSL). They pooled their funds, becoming shareholders, and established the first Community Bank branch in Cooroy, followed by Tewantin and Marcoola. 

One of the most exciting aspects of the Community Bank model is the distribution of profits with SCCFSL proudly giving back up to 80% of profits annually; to date, over $2.9 million has been injected back into the community. 

SCCFSL is not only generous with its profits, but also with support for various causes and initiatives in the community. 

Red Frogs is a prime example. When young people plunge into Australia’s party culture, they find a substance-fuelled concoction of entertainment and connection. But when the search for a good time leads them over the edge, they need a hand to pull them back. 

Red Frogs Founder and Director Andy Gourley has offered this hand since following his skateboarding mates to the Gold Coast for Schoolies Week in 1997. 

A positive peer presence in Surfers Paradise couldn’t have been more crucial.

School leavers were sceptical when Andy’s fledgling team of church-based volunteers knocked on their hotel room doors – until one youth worker offered the kids a packet of Allen’s Red Frogs. 

This icebreaking act of friendship earned the trust of schoolies, enabling social support from teams of sober peers who became known as ‘Red Frogs’.

After 25 years of service, the support program has gone global. Red Frogs now educate, empower and care for young people at schools, universities, music festivals and sports events in North America, Europe, Asia and at home.

When COVID-19 saw Gold Coast Schoolies cancelled in 2020, school leavers turned north to inundate Noosa for end-of-school celebrations. 

Whether handing out Red Frogs and cups of water, visiting hungry teens to cook pancakes, walking schoolies back
to their accommodation or answering welfare calls on the Red Frogs 24/7 Hotline, the Froggies safeguarded a generation of local youth.

Although the consumption of alcohol and illicit drugs is declining, the Australian Institute for Health and Welfare recently found substance use remains high among young people.

According to the 2019 National Drug Strategy Household Survey, Australians aged 18-24 and 25-29 were most likely to exceed the single occasion risk when consuming alcohol. In 2021, those aged 15 to 24 registered the highest rates of ambulance attendance for alcohol intoxication.

Recognising the need for support, SCCFSL Head of Sponsorship, Elizabeth Reynolds met with Andy Gourley to find out how SCCFSL could help. 

More than anything, Red Frogs needed a ute for transportation across the region. Aware of Madill Motor Group’s community commitment, SCCFSL brought the vehicle supplier into the fold. This enthusiastic three-way partnership soon provided the Beaut Ute, a dual cab ute with a three-year lease paid by the Community Bank.

Now servicing communities from Caloundra to Teewah, ‘the ute that saves lives’ transports lifesaving supplies and intervenes in critical situations where emergency services aren’t available. 

“It’s been amazing to get the Froggies out to those hard-to-reach areas on big properties, and up to Double Island and Inskip Point, reaching young people where they’re most at risk,” Andy Gourley said. 

“One of the best ways to win people over is by serving and being a blessing to your community, and that’s definitely what the Community Bank does.”

Madill Motor Group now plans to lease the vehicle to SCCFSL for another three years and provide a second ute, dividing services between the northern and southern ends of the Sunshine Coast.

Often going ‘Frogging’ with the Red Frogs Crew and amplifying their voice in Community Bank’s Tewantin-Noosa, Cooroy and Marcoola areas, Bendigo Bank is deepening their legacy of investment in our community.

SCCFSL’s Sponsorships and Hero Projects include the Beaut Ute, the Permaculture Noosa Pavilion at Cooroy Community Garden and supporting Sunny Coast Showdown.

“While we continue to support traditional community projects we also embrace out-of-the-square projects that will enhance our community for years to come,” Elizabeth said.

“The partnership with Red Frogs and Madills is our way of getting into the world of young people so we can create different legacies where they feel safe, where they feel there might be a career path, or where they can be proud of the community.”

Committed to positive cultural transformation, SCCFSL will continue to reach out their hand to the community. 


You can support the Red Frogs Crew in providing direct relief from drug and alcohol use! Visit

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