What are mutuals?

Mutuals

A mutual is a member-owned organisation where people come together to meet their shared needs. The members of a mutual are its customers who do not usually contribute to the capital of the organisation through direct investment. Instead, they support the mutual through using its services.

A mutual is a co-operative when each member has one vote and the organisation is guided by the seven co-operative principles.

Defining Mutuality explains what co-ops and mutuals are and how they fit together as a unified sector.

Friendly societies

Friendly Societies are organisations designed to support people’s welfare through mutual aide. They have existed since the 1700s. Based on the principle of mutual reliance between equals, friendly societies ensured a person’s welfare could be guaranteed by regular contributions to a common fund that would be drawn from in times of need.

The first arrival of free workers in Australia in the 1830s and 1840s provided the preconditions for the transplantation of Friendly Societies to Australia. One, the Independent Order of Oddfellows, evolved into what is now Australian Unity, one of Australia’s largest private health insurers.

Read the University of Melbourne’s history of Australia’s friendly societies.

Mutual examples

APS Benefits Group Logo

APS Benefits Group

The APS Benefits Group is a mutual which offers financial, legal and insurance products and services to more than 30,000 members and clients Australia-wide.
Established Year: 1905
Type: Mutual
Australian Unity Logo

Australian Unity

National healthcare, financial services and independent and assisted living organisation for over 175 years. Australian Unity has over 7,000 employees providing services to nearly a million Australians.
Established Year: 1840
Type: Mutual
Avant Mutual Logo

Avant Mutual

Australia’s leading medical defence organisation. Established by a small group of doctors in 1893, Avant now represents over 78,000 health practitioners and medical students, with the largest and most experienced specialist medico-legal defence team in Australia.
Established Year: 1893
Type: Mutual
Bank of us Logo

Bank of us

Bank of us is Tasmania’s only customer-owned bank with more than 31,000 customers, eight branches statewide and more than $1 billion in assets. Bank of us offers a comprehensive and competitive range of banking products and services designed to meet all personal and business banking needs.
Established Year: 1870
CivicRisk Mutual

CivicRisk Mutual

CivicRisk Mutual is a mutual of NSW councils. It is self-managed, self-funded and owned and operated entirely by members for risk management regarding public liability losses.
Established Year: 1988
Type: Mutual
Employers Mutual Limited Logo

Employers Mutual Limited (EML)

EML is a member-owned insurance fund which provides for the claims and related injury management needs of employers and workers. EML provides the tools, resources and support for employees injured at work, and helps employers create safe workplaces.
Established Year: 1910
Type: Mutual
Employsure Mutual Limited Logo

Employsure Mutual Limited

Member-owned discretionary mutual open exclusively to Employsure clients, offering services including employment relations and health and safety consultancy. Offers protection to over 27,000 members, covering legal representation and liability arising from employment relations and health and safety claims.
Established Year: 2011
Type: Mutual
Futurity Investment Group Logo

Futurity Investment Group

Futurity Investment Group (formerly known as ASG) was established by a group of parents passionate about giving their children the best start in life through education. It offers a range of options to plan for the costs of education through contributions by members which are invested by fund managers.
Established Year: 1974
Type: Mutual
G&C Mutual Bank logo

G&C Mutual Bank

G&C Mutual Bank is a different kind of bank, built around a big idea – It’s your bank, because you own it. Every one of G&C’s members is an owner with a voice and a say in the bank’s future. G&C Mutual Bank makes responsible, ethical decisions and reinvests profits to benefit its members and the community.
Established Year: 1959
Type: Mutual
HCF logo

HCF

HCF is an award-winning health insurance fund with more than 1.6 million members nationwide. It uses its profits for the benefit of its members, delivering the lowest premium increases of the major funds. HCF is Australia’s largest not-for-profit health insurer.
Established Year: 1932
Type: Mutual
HIF Logo

HIF

HIF began in 1954 as the Western Australian Government Railways Employees Hospital and Medical Benefits Fund, changing its name in 2010 to reflect its increasingly nationwide membership. Multi-award winning, not-for-profit health fund championing an ethical, member-focused approach to health insurance.
Established Year: 1954
Type: Mutual
Kudos Services logo

Kudos Services

Kudos Services is Australia’s first employee-owned public service mutual, with a focus on empowering children, young people and their families to live their best lives.
Established Year: 2018
Lawcover Logo

Lawcover

The single provider of approved professional indemnity insurance to law practices in NSW, and insures practices in the ACT, NT, and national firms with a presence in NSW. Independent subsidiary of The Law Society of NSW, and Australia’s only ‘profession-owned’, licensed and APRA regulated insurer of the legal profession.
Established Year: 1999
Type: Mutual
MDA National Logo

MDA National

MDA National is an Australia-wide Medical Defence Organisation that provides member support services and extensive professional indemnity insurance. It is a member-owned mutual that exists solely to support and protect members and promote good medical practice.
Established Year: 1925
Type: Mutual
NRMA logo

National Roads & Motorists’ Association (NRMA)

The NRMA is Australia's largest member organisation, providing a range of services including roadside assistance, International Drivers Licences, car reviews, a diverse range of motoring, travel and lifestyle benefits, as well as various products and services.
Established Year: 1920
Type: Mutual
Industry: Motoring
Picnic

Picnic

Picnic's Platform-as-a-Service, enables the creation and support of digital self-insurance pools.
Established Year: 2016
Type: Mutual
Rabobank logo

Rabobank

Responsible and committed to contributing to community prosperity and solving the global food issue.
Established Year: 1972
Type: Mutual
RACQ logo

RACQ

RACQ is a motoring mutual which offers services and products, including roadside assistance, travel, finance and insurance to its members. It has been a leading advocate on transport and fuel affordability for all Queenslanders for more than 100 years.
Established Year: 1905
Type: Mutual
Industry: Motoring
Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA) logo

Royal Automobile Association of South Australia (RAA)

RAA is a motoring mutual delivering emergency roadside assistance and touring. Founded in 1903 by 15 motoring enthusiasts, RAA now provides an extensive range of services to more than 750,000 members.
Established Year: 1903
Type: Mutual
Industry: Motoring
StateCover Mutual Limited logo

StateCover Mutual Limited

StateCover Mutual is a specialised insurer, supporting the workplace risk needs of NSW councils and other local government entities.
Established Year: 2001
Type: Mutual
The Mutual Bank logo

The Mutual Bank

A member-owned bank offering industry-leading service and award-winning financial products to the Hunter Region. Established in 1888, The Mutual Bank has a long history of helping local people and small businesses to achieve their financial goals whilst supporting local employment and grassroots community organisations.
Established Year: 1888
Type: Mutual
The Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania (RACT)

The Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania (RACT)

Formed in 1923 to represent the interests of Tasmanian motorists. RACT provides a range of motoring services, insurance, tourism and travel products as well as exclusive member benefits. With a vision to enhance life in Tasmania, RACT plays a significant role within the community.
Established Year: 1923
Type: Mutual
Industry: Motoring
The Royal Automobile Club of WA (RAC)

The Royal Automobile Club of WA (RAC)

RAC is a motoring mutual and offers a wide range of services to its members, including roadside assistance, travel and insurance. It is a leader in driverless vehicle technology, and has launched the first fully autonomous, electric shuttle bus on public roads.
Established Year: 1905
Type: Mutual
Industry: Motoring