To mark its 175th anniversary this year, Australian Unity has published “Of No Personal Influence … How people of common enterprise unexpectedly shaped Australia”.
This work, by noted historian Alex McDermott, is no drab corporate history, however. It is instead an exploration of “friendly societies”, including Australian Unity and its antecedent organisations including Manchester Unity and the Australian Natives Association, and their role in the nation’s social and economic metamorphosis from a convict state to a thriving international power.
Major events such as Federation and the creation of a Constitution, and demographic and social challenges such as the creation of a social safety net, were all affected in no small way by the “friendly societies” of which so many Australians were members through the mid-to-late 1800s and into the 1900s.
“Of No Personal Influence … “ was officially launched in Parliament House, Canberra on June 2 by journalist and author George Megalogenis. The launch coincided with a forum discussion on how the prevailing ethos of the friendly societies – self-reliance, mutual aid, entrepreneurship and community – could once again be harnessed to drive better social and economic policy outcomes for the country.
The forum included federal Parliamentary Secretary to the Communications Minister Paul Fletcher; Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen; Shadow Assistant Treasurer Andrew Leigh); Professor Glenn Withers from the Crawford School of Public Policy, Jeremy Sammut, research fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies; Su McCluskey, Regional Australia Institute CEO; Melina Morrison, Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutuals CEO; Australian Unity chairman Glenn Barnes, and Mr Megalogenis.
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