The public service has been fertile ground for credit union development in Australia over the course of the last 70 years. It makes sense as various government agencies have had relatively large and stable workforces over long periods and they have also been aided by strong trade union membership and other opportunities to be collegiate.

This workforce had the same reasons as the rest of the community for starting and joining credit unions – including difficulties accessing reputable finance at reasonable rates of interest. In the late 1960s, state electricity workers in South Australia were in this position and decided to start a credit union that lives on today in Credit Union SA.

The Electricity Trust of South Australia, or ETSA as it was generally known, was the public agency that ran power generation and supply for the people of South Australia from 1946 to 1999 when it was privatised.

ETSA Employees Credit Union was registered in 1970 with a bond to serve South Australian power workers. South Australia is a big state with many small pockets of remote communities. Electricity being a basic utility aided in the success of the credit union as it was more easily able to spread the news.

In 1972, just two years after launching the business from Adelaide, ETSA Employees CU opened a branch in Port Augusta. The branch doubled as an agency for members of CPS Credit Union SA, which also served South Australian public servants.

Eventually the bond of the credit union was opened to those not in the direct employ of South Australia’s power industry. Research showed that the name “ETSA Employees Credit Union” didn’t sit well with expansion plans and the name was changed to PowerState Credit Union in 1993.

In 2009, PowerState Credit Union merged with Satisfac Direct Credit Union which was started by South Australian teachers way back in 1958. The emergent entity Credit Union SA was strong and remains so today.