Australian Natives' Association

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An Australian Natives' Association banquet held in 1901 to honour Prime Minister Edmund Barton, following his return from the United Kingdom.

The Australian Natives' Association (ANA) was a mutual society founded in Melbourne, Australia in April 1871 as the Victorian Natives' Association. Its membership was restricted to white men born in Australia.

In 1872 it voted to extend membership to men born in the other Australian colonies and changed its name at the same time.[1][2] The Association played a leading role in the movement for Australian federation in the last 20 years of the 19th century. In 1900 it had a membership of 17,000, mainly in Victoria.

This badge from 1910 was produced by the Australian Natives' Association, comprising Australian-born whites. Prime Minister Edmund Barton was a member.[3] It shows the use of the slogan "White Australia" at that time.[4]

The ANA provided sickness, medical and funeral cover. Membership in the ANA was restricted to men born in Australia, at a time when Australian-born people of European descent (not including Indigenous Australians) were rising to power in place of an older generation born in Britain. In the 1890s, for the first time, they became the majority of the population. The ANA consisted mainly of energetic middle-class men aged under 50 - a perfect base for a forward-looking, idealistic movement such as federation. In 1880 the ANA committed itself to the federation of the Australian colonies, and provided much of the organisational and financial support for the Federation Leagues which led the campaign, particularly in Victoria. It avoided party politics, but they soon adopted the rising liberal politician and ANA member Alfred Deakin[5] as their candidate for leadership of the federal movement.[citation needed]

In 1891, when the Victorian Parliament was considering the federation bill, it was the ANA that organised public meetings around the colony to rally support for the bill, many of them addressed by Deakin. After the failure of the 1891 bill, it was the ANA which kept the federal cause alive. When the movement revived after 1897, the ANA campaigned vigorously for the referendums to approve the proposed constitution. With federation achieved in 1901, the ANA withdrew from political activity, although it continued patriotic activity such as promoting the observance of Australia Day. Other nationalistic issues supported by the ANA included afforestation, an Australian-made goods policy, water conservation, the celebration of proper and meaningful citizenship ceremonies following the increased levels of migration after World War II, and the adoption of the wattle as the national floral emblem in 1912.[citation needed]

With the Returned and Services League and many trade unions, the ANA was one of the last Australian pressure groups to support the White Australia Policy. While this policy was wound down in the decades after the Second World War and totally abolished by 1970, a few members continued to support it until the 1970s. The ANA continued to prosper, operating a private health fund, a building society, general insurance company and small-scale life insurance and fund management activities. In 1993, it merged those operations with Manchester Unity IOOF of Victoria to create Australian Unity, the largest friendly society in Australia by number of members. As of 2007, only the WA branch exists, and this is winding down, although Australian Unity attempts to maintain a modicum of activity in the Victoria-based ANA fraternal society.[6]

Aboriginal leader and activist William Cooper heard a spokesman from the Australian Natives Association when he attended a 1937 service for Victorian pioneers. Cooper was incensed by the appropriation of the term 'native' and, according to historian Richard Broome, wrote to the organiser, Isaac Selby, that 'what is a memorial of the coming of the Whites is a death to us.'[7]



  1. ^ "Public Notices". The Argus. National Library of Australia (Trove Australia). 16 May 1871. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  2. ^ "News". The Argus. National Library of Australia (Trove Australia). 27 April 1872. Retrieved 21 December 2012.
  3. ^ Design, UBC Web. "Australian Natives Association Centenary - Monument Australia". Retrieved 22 October 2017.
  4. ^ See Museum Victoria description Archived 5 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "The Return Of Mr. Alfred Deakin". The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954). Melbourne, Vic.: National Library of Australia. 12 July 1887. p. 5. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  6. ^ ?, (24 February 2007), Post (Western Australia)
  7. ^ Broome, Richard (2005). Aboriginal Victorians: A History since 1800. Sydney: Allen and Unwin. p. 306.

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