The Australian Natives’ Association (A.N.A.), the first Australian Friendly Society was established in Melbourne on 24th April 1871. The first meeting was advertised in the Age and the Argus. “ Melbourne Natives desirous of forming a society for the protection and promotion of their interests are requested to attend a meeting Monday evening, 8 o’clock, Grimwood’s Hotel Elizabeth Street. Formation of a Society. “

The Argus, Saturday 22 April 1871

Friendly Societies in England existed from about 871 Current Era. Their aim was helping others in sickness and distress and to foster helpful human relationships. The Independent Order of Rechabites Friendly Society established a branch in Victoria in 1837. Manchester Unity Independent Order of Oddfellows (MUIOOF) and other English Friendly Societies followed.

The A.N.A. Founders wanted to provide friendly society benefits to its Australian born members and encourage Australians to manage their own affairs and plan their own future, independently of nostalgic ties to another homeland. Fourteen men attended at the first meeting established a committee to consider forming the “Victorian Natives’ Association”. This soon became the Australian Natives’ Association,(A.N.A.) admitting men born in all Australian colonies.

A.N.A. was registered as Friendly Society 1871. Membership fees assisted people in times of sickness and bereavement. All meetings were open to the public, with no secret signs or regalia, unlike the English-based friendly societies. The Australian Natives’ Association amalgamated with MUIOOF in 1993 to form Australian Unity. A.N.A.Fraternal Organisation (A.N.A.Fraternal) then formed to continue the social and cultural activities of the former A.N.A.