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Commonwealth Bank – The School Bank (1951)

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clip Withdrawing funds education content clip 2

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

In the ground floor customer service area of the Sydney central branch of the Commonwealth Bank in Martin Place, Mr Phillips explains to the children the system of withdrawing account funds from a bank branch.

Curator’s notes

It’s fascinating to learn, or even to remember, the convoluted procedure involved in the withdrawal of cash from passbook savings accounts, up until the late 1960s. Before that time, a record of each bank customer’s signature was kept only by the branch at which the account was held. Without making prior arrangements, customers were unable to withdraw funds at branches other than their own. It wasn’t until December 1969 that the Black Light Signature System was introduced at the Commonwealth Bank, and withdrawals could be made at any branch with ‘black light’ equipment. Customers’ passbooks contained their signature, invisible to the naked eye and readable only by the ‘black light’. Customers filled out withdrawal slips, the signature on which had to match the invisible signature in the passbook, before cash would be issued.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This black-and-white clip taken from a sponsored film Commonwealth Bank – The School Bank shows children being instructed in the Commonwealth Savings Bank in Martin Place, Sydney, on how to withdraw money from bank accounts. As a narrator describes the process there is footage of a man filling in the withdrawal form and receiving a numbered card in exchange for his passbook, which is put in a pneumatic tube and sent to another department. The children see the signature and account being checked. Finally the man receives his money from a teller.

Educational value points

  • The clip reveals the time-consuming and labour-intensive banking processes that predated computerisation. In 1951 when the clip was made processes such as verifying signatures and checking to ensure that accounts had enough money to cover withdrawals were done manually and in a different part of the bank to the teller. Customers had to wait until the processes were completed and the information given to the teller before collecting their money and passbook.
  • The pneumatic tube system, in which items in cylindrical containers are propelled through a network of tubes by compressed air or in a vacuum, is shown being used in a bank to transport documents. Pneumatic networks were once common in banks, department stores and post offices but most were abandoned in the early 1980s when information began to be transported electronically and when credit cards reduced cash handling in stores.
  • The banking chamber, with its huge hall and pillars, signified the institution’s importance and authority in a pre electronic age when people had to visit the bank for almost all financial transactions. Even in small country towns, banks and post offices were among the grandest and most important buildings, the cornerstone of the community, symbolising the financial and commercial viability of the town.
  • This clip illustrates the Commonwealth Savings Bank’s program to educate school students in banking processes and to encourage them to save. The film was part of the School Banking Program, which had been developed mainly for primary schools. Schools accepted students’ cash deposits into their passbooks on behalf of a bank that administered the program. Fee-free school banking was introduced into every state between 1907 and 1928.
  • All of the staff members shown in the clip are male – at the time positions for women in banks were very restricted. When women were first employed in banks during the First World War they were not allowed to handle cash or have contact with the public. Until the Second World War less than 10 per cent of bank staff were women, but many women were employed during the post-War banking boom. By the late 1960s women made up the majority of the bank workforce.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

All other rights reserved.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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