It is important to acknowledge the important role that the Australian Post-Tel Institute has played in the development of social culture in Western Australia for over the past 95 years, especially as we edge closer to celebrating our 100th birthday.
The earliest known post office in Perth was situated in St Georges Terrace at the eastern end, now occupied by International House. On 7 March 1840 it moved to a room in the public offices near Government House. Postmaster General Mr Hemlich, whom lived in Murray Street, moved the Post Office opposite to his residence to allow him to be permanently in attendance. During the 70's as part of the old barracks at the corner of St Georges Terrace and Barrack Street the G.P.O was built. The new building was opened on 27 August 1890 and was used until the present G.P.O in Forrest Place was completed and opened on 23 September 1923.
This is the same time, during 1923 and 1924, that the first members of the Australian Postal Institute in Western Australia started working to create a social Postal Institute division as had been established in other states. The Australian Postal Institute officially being registered as an Incorporated Association in 1925.
Australian Postal History in Australia
In the early part of the century, senior administrators and union officials began urging the establishment of an institution to provide for the vocational training of officers in the PMG's (Post Master General's) Department. The first Postal Institute commenced in Victoria on Thursday 15 October 1918. The Australian Postal Institute provided outstanding service to its members for many years. The Honourable William Webster is credited with getting API started, and at the inception event on that date he read out the following ode:
"Today is a day in the history of the Postal Department that I trust will be remembered by all those who are to benefit by the Institute which is being opened for the advancement, education and recreation of the staff of this great service."
The introduction of the first world war got in the way of the commencement of API which was supposed to have its inception in 1914. However, it stated in 1918 with Mr W.F. Ferguson as the foundation president and the rollout of state by state divisions commenced under his leadership. There is a general recognition that the most important change for the API took place on 1 July 1975, when the Postmaster General's Department was phased out and replaced by the Australian Postal Commission and the Australian Telecommunications Commission. The date of the changeover became known as 'vesting day' and the two new bodies were quickly dubbed Australia Post and Telecom.
The name of the institute was amended to encompass the two new commissions and as a result the Australian Postal Institute became the Australian Post-Tel Institute.
API WA in the 50's & 60's
The API National Board ensured that the Annual Sporting & Clubs Carnival continued to be competitive as every state entered a team to represent them in hundreds of sports activities and clubs that were part of each state API. API WA had a soccer club, cricket club, bowls club, badminton club, cycling club, gymnastics club, darts club, swimming club, netball club, volley ball club, basketball club, running club, rugby club, bridge club, baseball club, gold club, tennis club and many others.
Many of the carnival events were held in regional locations and the main events and ceremonies were held at the WACA. In the 1957 carnival (October 21 to 31) Olympic Games hockey player Maurie Foley led the WA team onto the WACA ground for the opening ceremony. At the games all the clubs competed state against state in every category you can imagine, including camel racing!
The organisation as it was originally, with a large member base and the club/social event diversity in its offering and service offerings was regarded as being quite unique in the world. It is also thought to be the world's first of its kind. The present membership of many thousands throughout Australia has widely diverse needs depending on geographic location, availability of community resources, socio-economic levels and work pressures. There is a much greater demand today for services that provide financial benefits to members than ever before.
Inherent in all member services is the members' need above all else for a sense of security with the organisation - an attitude of "the API will look after us," which is still how the members feel today.
API WA in the 70's & early 80's
During the latter part of the 1980's and early 1990's there was increasing competition for Australia Post and for the Australian Telecommunications Corporation, as the markets in which they operated became deregulated. The challenge was always to ensure that the organisation remained relevant to its members and excelled in serving its member base by continuing to provide benefits to the wider WA community. It was during this time that membership was opened to the public with a new vision and mission.
To operate a profitable and expanding member focused leisure and lifestyle organisation that offers a wide range of up to date benefits to individuals in the wider Western Australian community.
API still operated in all states of Australia and serviced some 74,000 members with varying penetration levels state by state. They diversified offerings in all states and in WA we had a credit union, a book exchange, a video exchange, a retail and sporting shop, art exhibitions and invested in holiday home properties for members to use.
API WA today...
Today, API WA continues to operate its holiday homes, member benefits programs and continues to focus on the vision to diversify the model, continue to support our club members, individual members and the wider Western Australian community.
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