The first “credit union” in Australia is considered by some to be the Co-operative Credit Bank of Victoria established in 1905 by a group of public servants.

The Co-operative Credit Bank of Victoria had its origins in the Civil Services Co-operative Society, which by 1906 had 7,000 members. It ran a large Melbourne co-operative store and a number of suburban and rural outlets.

The newspaper Argus of Friday 26 January 1906 reports that “The first general meeting of shareholders in the Co-operative Credit Bank of Victoria Limited was held at the Civil Service Stores Flinders Street, last evening. Mr W. McIver, chairman of the provisional board of directors presided.”

The Argus goes on to report that “The Chairman stated that the rules of the Civil Services Co-operative Stores forbade the giving of credit. The result was that if sickness overtook a customer, and he required a little credit, he must perforce seek it from strangers. With a view of making some provision for such cases a committee was appointed. The result was the Co-operative Credit Bank. Provision had been made for loans on security, or surety for all ordinary economical purposes, such as improving property or buying furniture for cash. It was hoped before long the bank would be able to go further, and provide the dwelling place itself on the most reasonable terms possible”.

The Co-operative Credit Bank of Victoria raised funds entirely through share subscriptions from members. The bonds of association was occupation-based – as membership extended to government departments and semi-government authorities.  The Co-operative Credit Bank was established under the Victorian Provident Societies Act 1890.

The Co-operative Credit Bank continued to operate for several decades and was successful. At a special meeting on 22 November 1938 a motion was adopted to change its name to Co-operative Credit Society of Victoria Limited (reported in The Age on 23 November 1938). At this time there were 4285 shares and 2131 shareholders. It is interesting to note that at this time the Chairman of the board of directors was Mr John Holland a Victorian MLA.

The Co-operative Credit Society continued throughout the World War Two period. The Age noted on 25 November 1942 that at its half yearly meeting on the 24th November it was reported that the society had financed a Rhodes scholar, and helped many students through the Teachers' Training College; and that Loans (at the last half-year) had totaled £533, and net profit was £44, also a total of £4000 has been Invested In war loans.