“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.
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.
The book recounts the humble beginnings of the friendly society movement when those with little fortune or standing in the community banded together to provide health and financial support that was otherwise unavailable.
From campaigning for a centralised public school system in 1901 to the mandatory wearing of seatbelts in 1970, friendly societies have always had their members’ and the wider community’s interests at heart. Australian Unity is a part of this story.