Amanda Barber, Senior Archivist, Australian Mutuals History
Ted Long was a dedicated and energetic exponent of the value of co-operatives and credit unions in Victoria. He was born in 1921 into a farming family at Knowsley near Bendigo and was educated at the local State School and later at St Patrick’s Ballarat.
As a young man he moved to Melbourne and was employed in the Commonwealth Department of Air. In Melbourne he joined the newly formed Young Christian Workers Movement (YCW) where he became not only involved in the many sporting activities available but moved through the ranks of the YCW to eventually become National President.
Ted took on the role of National Secretary in 1943, which meant he had to give up his public service career and abandon his VFL football pursuits (he played a few games with North Melbourne). At that time, the YCW conducted an inquiry into the economic needs of young workers and identified a need for financial support in the purchasing of homes and household goods and services. In 1948 the YCW Co-operative Trading Society was formed and in 1951 Ted Long took on the secretarial role. This Society would go on to provide household furniture and white goods, insurance and later school furniture and clothing.
Influenced by the work of the Antigonish Movement of Nova Scotia, the YCW investigated the issue of consumer finance co-operatives. As a result, the Young Christian Workers’ Central Credit Union was formed in 1952. It became the first co-operative credit society to be registered under the Victorian Co-operation Act of 1953 when it was registered as the Young Christian Workers’ Central Co-operative Credit Society in August 1954.
By 1957 three parish based co-operative credit societies along with the YCW Central Co-operative Credit Society had formed the Association of Catholic Co-operative Credit Societies (ACCCS) with Ted Long as its first Secretary. In 1965, after much deliberation, the ACCCS changed its name and constitution to become the Victorian Credit Co-operative Association. It was registered in 1966 with the aim of affiliating the majority of credit unions in Victoria whether based in industries, trade and professional unions, communities or parishes. The association acted as an advisory and representative body, and it offered a central bank function to its member societies, as well as insurance and a fledgling stabilisation fund.
Ted Long was a tireless advocate and traveled throughout Victoria promoting the formation of co-operatives in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1961, he became the foundation secretary of the Co-operative Development Society, formed to develop educational programs and promotional materials for all forms of co-operatives.
Ted was appointed to the Co-operative Advisory Council formed under the Victorian Cooperation Act. He was also a foundation member of the Co-operative Federation of Victoria formed in 1970. In 1992 Ted Long was interviewed by Richard Raxworthy (oral history tape held by Australian Mutuals History). In the interview Ted talks about his philosophy of co-operatives, saying “We viewed co-operatives as a means of making a contribution to the reform of society … If there was a proper mix of capitalism, socialism and this form of private enterprise which is co-operative, you would finish up, probably with a better society.”
Ted Long was awarded an Order of Australia Medal in 1984 for services to the community, especially in relation to Co-operatives. He died in 2008, survived by his wife Norine and seven of their eight children.