Friendly or mutual benefit societies developed in Great Britain in the seventeenth century, generally based around communities of interest. They first appeared in Australia in the 1840s - 1850s. The Australian Natives' Association (ANA) was formed in Melbourne in 1871. Its focus was political. Composed of native-born Australians, it aimed to develop a direction for Australia that was independent of Britain, and to develop quality educational facilities for native Australians who appeared to be disadvantaged by a lack of British education. It was a vocal supporter of Federation. The ANA spread to all Australian states and eventually New Zealand. Its non-political activities came to include cultural events, personal sponsorships and support for the development of Australian football. Following Federation it adopted causes including national defence, the White Australia policy, railway expansion and nature conservation.

Williams, Melvin, 'A Very Australian Friendly Society', NMAA Journal, 8, pp.59-64.

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