Survivors - Rob’s perspective
Humanity as a whole has the natural ability to come together and help one another out at the onset of a sudden or tragic crisis. If you think back through the years of some of the natural disasters that have occurred across Australia and New Zealand – the Queensland floods, Victorian bushfires, and the Christchurch earthquakes and more recent atrocities – they were all very sudden.
These are the times however, where communities show the capacity to overcome differences, support one another and work together towards rectifying the devastation.
About 25 years, ago in 1994, I was in Darwin chatting to some locals at the local pub. “How’s Norm going?” one of the locals asked me out of the blue when he learnt I was from ANZ.
I looked at him blankly for some time. After a few minutes of discussion, I uncovered that “Norm” was the Senior Manager in the Northern Territory when Cyclone Tracy devastated Darwin on Christmas Day 1974 – which placed this conversation approximately 20 years after that crushing event in the region’s history.
This local went on to tell me a meticulous tale of how “Norm” had stood outside the severely damaged ANZ Darwin branch with a bookie bag, handing out cash to customers. There was no bookkeeping, just an avowal of “I know you, you’ve got integrity. If I give you some dollars to get you through this, I trust you’ll pay me back”.
Twenty years later, this local still remembered this wholesome act of trust and support provided by a fellow human being (and ANZ) in a desperate time of need.
The natural state of an economic crisis is different, evolutionary not revolutionary. Rather than being sudden like a natural disaster, it creeps up on you. It happens over time. And then abruptly, suddenly, precipitously – just like that – you’re in an economic crisis.
The question we need to pose to ourselves is would we, or rather ‘could we’, respond to an economic crisis with the same adaptability, nimbleness and resilience as we would when a natural crisis strikes us down?
How should we be preparing our people now to adapt for the future event? And how do we prepare enough “Norms” for when the event happens? What Norm did was invaluable, compassionate, truly innovative – but it was also, in essence, good banking.