Australian American Association | Origins and Early History

The Federation of Australian American Associations is a group incorporating all Australian American divisional associations across Australia.

The Australian American Association had its origins in 1936 in the shadow of the Second World War. Two veterans of the First World War Brig. Goddard and Capt. White believed that the one hope of world peace lay in a close alliance of the then British Empire and the United States of America. A meeting was convened in Sydney in July 1936 to create the “British – American Co-operation Movement for World Peace”.

The outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 brought about changes to the movement’s activities. The wartime Government accepted the association’s offer of cooperation with the Prime Minister’s Department and the newly established Department of Information as an adjunct to the furthering of good relations with America, at that time the most important neutral nation. The Sydney ‘Movement’ was endorsed by the Prime Minister of Australia and it boasted 4,000 members at the time. The government of the day provided the Movement with a grant of 1,650 pounds on the basis that it assist the Department of Information. As a proviso of that grant, the government requested there be a name change to “Australian-American Cooperation Movement”.

The head of the American section of the Department of information 1941 is credited with the first use of the title ”Australian American Association” when he suggested the formation of a division in Brisbane.

Sir Keith Murdoch, who at that time was Director-General of the Department of Information, took the lead in forming the Australian-American Co-operation Movement in Victoria in 1941. The association in Adelaide, that had been originally formed in the late 30s, was revived in March 1941 and the first ‘Movement’ formed in Perth in June 1942.

The first Federal meeting of the various state groups was held on 10 November 1943 in Sydney and in 1947 the Federal Council changed the name to “Australian American Association” which then standardised the name on a national basis.

Other state and regional groups were subsequently established, with the Canberra Division being formed in 1960.

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