Ben Woods, Assistant Archivist, Australian Mutuals History
The material for this profile of a special Australian credit union personality was drawn exclusively from the oral history interview its subject, Jack Bannister, gave with historian Richard Raxworthy on behalf of the Australian Credit Union Historical Co-operative on 5 September, 1989.
The interview transcript begins with Mr Bannister telling Raxworthy that he was born in Redfern in 1920 and that he and his family moved to Balmain when he was 3 months old. He further relates that he spent his high school years at Balmain Brothers and upon leaving school in 1936, he got a job with Sydney City Council.
Jack started life at Sydney City Council as a messenger and then began an apprenticeship with the council treasury. He ended up in the Audit Department for 16 years, but his career was interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.
After initially joining the army, Jack switched to the Air Force and after training in Sydney he was stationed in Canada, then England, the US and finally India where all his operational flying took place. Jack flew photographic reconnaissance missions from base in India and was once mentioned in dispatches. His mention was due to his having flown back to base for 800 miles through monsoonal rain on one engine. During the war, Jack flew Tiger Moths, Spitfires and Mosquitos.
The cessation of military hostilities saw Jack resume life at the City Council in 1946, he got married in 1949 and his friendship with fellow council employee and credit union enthusiast Dermot Ryan (an earlier subject of a blog post), saw him take part in the foundation of The City Council Employees Credit Union Co-operative in 1963 (trading today as Sydney Credit Union or SCU).
Jack became Chairman of City Council Employees Credit Union in 1970 and remained in that position until 1985. He was a member of the AFCUL (Australian Federation of Credit Union Leagues) Annual Meeting Organising Committee, Vice President of the Institute of Credit Union Directors and became a foundation member and Deputy Director of the Australian Credit Union Historical Co-operative in 1985.
The most important part of the interview is Jack reminiscing about how the significance of his work with the credit union hit home after the first year of operations. He said “This is when it came home to me, at the end of the first year to see blokes that I worked with saving money. I think that was the whole thing about the credit union. It enabled people not only to borrow money but to save money as well. I think that particular factor is probably, from my point of view, the best feature of the whole of the credit union”.
Jack Bannister passed away on 20th June 1997.