The people at O-Hub help us a lot. It’s good to have O-Hub here, even just to check our balance and help manage our budgets.
Money business is important to Aurukun’s citizens. However, with no bank branches in town, locals are almost entirely reliant on online and telephone services for their banking needs. This can be difficult, as almost a third of Indigenous households in Cape York do not have access to the internet.
“We bank with NAB and they don’t have a branch in Aurukun,” says local Ben Pamtoonda. “We would have to drive all the way to Cairns, and that’s just too far to go for a bank.”
Fortunately, people can make use of telephones and computers for free at Aurukun’s O-Hub, which also has financial capability workers to help them. In 2021, 550 locals made more than 5776 visits to the O-Hub for this purpose. Ben and his wife Marina are among them.
“The people at O-Hub help us a lot. It’s good to have O-Hub here, even just to check our balance and help manage our budgets,” says Marina.
According to Ben and Marina, the O-Hub has helped them become more digitally and financially literate.
“O-Hub helped me with computer skills,” says Marina. “The staff make all the financial processes easier to understand.”
In addition to financial assistance and digital connection with banking services, Ben has felt the non-material value of O-Hub too.
“I love chatting; I love yarning with the O-Hub staff,” he says. “They are so friendly, and sharing the occasional coffee or tea goes down nicely too.” His grin spreads from ear to ear, and Marina innocently rolls her eyes.
Ben and Marina believe that the O-Hub helps many people in the community, especially older people. They say modern financial processes can be foreign to Aboriginal people of pensioner age, which makes the O-Hub a vital service in Aurukun.
“Life would be hard for older people, the pensioners, if O-Hub wasn’t here,” says Marina. “The other day, an older lady was confused about her new debit card and asked me what to do. I just told her to see O-Hub and they would help her activate it.”
“Many people are using O-Hub,” says Ben. “Many people now understand money business better.”