Australian Unity has a long and proud history dating back to 1840.
Australian Unity as an entity was formed by the merger of the Australian Natives' Association Friendly Society (ANA) and the Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows (Manchester Unity) in Victoria in 1993. We expanded further in March 2005 through a merger with Grand United Friendly Society Limited, and in August 2009 with Lifeplan Australia Friendly Society. On the 1st March 2012, Big Sky Credit Union, with 34,000 customers, joined the Australian Unity group.
As its name suggests, Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows (MUIOOF) had its origins in Manchester, England. It was established in Melbourne in 1840 when Augustus Greeves, a member of the MUIOOF in England, migrated to Australia.
By the late nineteenth century, MU had an extensive network of lodges in metropolitan and country Victoria. A key feature of the governance of MU was the Annual Moveable Conference which met each year in a different centre and elected the organisation’s directors for the coming year. MU merged with the ANA in 1993 to form Australian Unity.
The Australian Natives’ Association (ANA) was established in Melbourne in 1871, as a membership organisation for people born in Australia at a time when most of the administrative jobs in the Australian colonies were exclusively held by the British born.
When it was formed it had two aims—to act as a friendly society offering financial support to its members in need, and to promote the moral, social and intellectual improvement of its members. It shunned traditional friendly society practices of ritual and regalia and set its sights on influencing public thinking and government policy on a range of issues related to Australian nationalism, including Federation and the establishment of Australia Day.
The ANA provided services such as sick pay and funeral benefits. It was also an important presence in many communities through its debates, concerts and other social activities.
Grand United was established in England in the late 1700s, when groups of independent lodges became part of this larger organisation. The Order began in Australia during the mid 1800s.
During the First and Second World Wars, many Grand United members enlisted for Active Service, and as with many other friendly societies, funds were created to provide for the medical benefits of serving members and their families.
Grand United merged with Australian Unity in 2005.
Lifeplan Funds Management is a South Australian friendly society made up of an amalgamation of many other friendly societies including Manchester Unity IOOF, Mutual Community, Australian Natives’ Association, Druids, Foresters, Rechabites – District 81, Hibernians, Protestant Alliance, Free Gardeners, Investment Action, Stateguard, Norwich Union Friendly Society and Savings and Loans Friendly Society. Lifeplan's earliest antecedent company was Manchester Unity, established in South Australia in 1840.
From humble, yet important beginnings, Lifeplan has grown steadily to be a leading Australian specialist fund manager and provider of investment products, with total assets and funds under management in excess of $1.57 billion at 30 September 2009.
In August 2009, Lifeplan merged with Australian Unity to create an even stronger mutual organisation.
Big Sky began life back in 1971 as two individual employee credit unions – BP Credit Union and BHP Employee’s Credit Co-operative (BHPECC). It was initially based in the mining communities of Western Australia – Hedland, Mount Newman, and Kwinana before expanding to Queensland and South Australia. In 1995 BHPECC added Lysaght Credit Union to its business and in 2002 the business adopted the name Big Sky Credit Union. Further mergers followed - with BP Credit Union (2003), RACV Credit Union (2005), GMH Credit Union (2009) and Westwide Financial Services (2010).
In March 2012 Australian Unity joined with Big Sky Credit Union to form Big Sky Building Society.