The Westfund Story
Westfund helped to forge the private health industry in Australia back in 1953 – with origins dating back to 1881.
Westfund Health Insurance, as the fund is known today, is proud to provide cover for over 110,000 individuals across the country (figure correct as at 1 January 2021).
The fund launches a refresh of the brand. The brand evolution is as much a celebration of the past as it is of the future, honouring the fund’s long history while looking ahead with optimism.
The King Building, the fund’s new head office administrative headquarters is opened in Read Avenue, Lithgow. The office, located on the site of the former Lithgow RSL building, were named as such in honour of long-time Lithgow RSL Club Secretary-Manager James Wesley King (Wes). The late Mr King was Secretary-Manager of the Lithgow RSL Club for 25 years throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s and was extremely well respected by RSL members and the community in general. He also served 25 years as Honorary Secretary of the Lithgow RSL Sub-Branch and deserves particular mention for his input as Pensions and Welfare Officer, where his sympathetic and kindly approach were most valued.
The fund’s Contact Centre operations grow with the addition of a second Contact Centre in Maroochydore.
The fund launches into regional Queensland with the opening of the Emerald Care Centre.
Australia’s federal government, led by Prime Minister Bob Hawke, introduces Medicare, universal health cover for all Australians. Medicare revolutionises Australia’s healthcare landscape.
The fund becomes registered as a hospital fund and renamed ‘Western District Health Fund’ to broaden markets and grows to 12,000 members. The first Dental and Eye Care Centres open.
The fund becomes ‘Western District Medical Benefit Fund’ to reflect the change to a new fee-for-service system of medical cover for the then 5000 members.
Country Party stalwart Dr Earl Page introduces voluntary health insurance in the National Health Act, which subsidises hospital and medical fees through registered funds. The Miner’s Fund is registered under this Act by union official Jim Wilson in November 1953 as the ‘Western District Mineworkers Medical Benefits Fund’ - today’s Westfund.
Labor Premier of New South Wales, Jack Lang, legislates that ambulance officers and a doctor are to be readily accessible at all mining sites. At this time, a group of miners in Lithgow joined together to organise weekly pay deductions – a subscription of a ‘couple of bob’ a week was collected by the union. This meant miners were able to join a ‘medical club’. These subscriptions funded contracted doctors and ambulance service to members.
NSW Parliament passes the Miners’ Accident Relief Act. This Act provided for a fund, contributed equally to by miners, the coalmining companies and the government, which could make payments in the case of death or disability.
Members of the Vale of Clwydd Lodge of miners negotiates with Bathurst Hospital to set up a designated bed for its members.