The Britain–Australia Society was established in 1971 as a friendship society to promote historic links between Britain and Australia. It has headquarters in the Australia Centre within Australia House in London and branches throughout the UK.
Britons and Australians share a rich heritage of family ties, history, culture, language, sport and business. In 1971 Sir Robert Menzies and Sir Alec Douglas-Home, former Prime Ministers of Australia and Great Britain, re-founded the pre-existing Australia Club to form two sister societies based in the United Kingdom and Australia in order to recognise the value of a continuing cultural exchange between the two countries. Despite being founded by two former politicians, the societies are apolitical and non-commercial.
The aims of the Britain–Australia Society are to:
- strengthen existing friendship between Britain and Australia
- promote educational exchanges
- arrange social events for members
- provide a point of contact for Australians visiting the United Kingdom
- maintain links with Australia
The society provides a comfortable and welcoming forum in which talented youth of both nations are introduced to influential diplomatic and commercial circles to contribute to their personal and professional development.
Branches are maintained in Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Norfolk, Leicestershire, Lincoln, Portsmouth and the West Country. Regional functions are held by these branches in addition to centrally-organised activities.
Other events have included tutored wine tastings, theatre evenings, cocktail parties, after-hours visits to the Tower of London and ascending the Queen Elizabeth Tower to see the Great Clock and watch Big Ben chime.
The Patron of the Society is HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh KG KT OM GBE AC QSO.
The President is The Rt Hon The Lord Carrington KG GCMG CH MC PC
The Chairman is Peter Benson OAM
The Vice-Chairman is Richard Robins
- HE Alexander Downer AC, The High Commissioner for Australia – Ex Officio
- The Rt Hon (George) Miles Hobart-Hampden, Earl of Buckinghamshire
- Sir Roger Carrick KCMG LVO
- Mr Rohan Courtney OBE
- Baron Goodlad KCMG, PC
- Mr Brian Harris
- Sir John Leahy KCMG
- The Viscount Slim OBE DL
- Sir Donald Tebbit GCMG
The National Director is Dale Eaton
The Executive Secretary is Sarah Witt
The Honorary Chaplain of the Society is The Revd George Bush, Rector of St Mary le Bow church.
As a non-profit society, administration and events are funded by subscriptions and corporate sponsors, including Australian Government agencies and businesses and organisations with an Australian interest in Britain.
- Three Charitable Trusts are maintained by the society:
- The Britain–Australia Society Educational Trust is a small Trust for educational purposes, contributing to expenses in Australia for young people on exchange and helping with projects in UK schools which increase knowledge of, or interest in Australia.
- The Northcote Trust funds graduate scholarships to Australia.
- The Sir Robert Menzies Memorial Trust funds scholarships in Law from Australia to Britain.
- The Society also administers the following organisations:
- The Friends of the University of Melbourne Charitable Trust
- The Friends of the University of Sydney UK Trust
- The Cook Society was founded in 1969 on the initiative of Prime Ministers Sir Alec Douglas Home and Sir Robert Menzies, with the aim of promoting British-Australian relations at a high level. It has counterparts in all of the Australian States with which it is in constant touch. Membership of the Society in Britain is limited to 100, excluding Honorary members, and represents a wide range of national interests including senior business and professional people, politicians, civil servants and academics. Membership is by invitation only. The B-AS administers the Cook Society and shares some events.
- Australia-Britain Society members have reciprocal rights when in Britain.