CAPE YORK, Queensland, Australia – If all works well, the new year will bring the first Aboriginal credit union here. Aimed at accommodating Aboriginal culture by incorporating the rules of the indigenous communities such as reciprocity and sharing, entire communities would be responsible for bad debts through services such as family and group loans. In addition, personal loans would be limited to $5000, mainly for furniture and goods, and there would be no automatic teller machines or credit/debit cards. Transactions would be made through passbooks, and an individual could hold different accounts for such things as food and Christmas. Scheduled to be opened by mid-2003 in Aurukun and Cairns, the credit union will also introduce training programs for indigenous people who want to work in banking. The hope is that within three years of operation 75% of all staff will be indigenous.

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