King Building Grand Opening
This week we paid tribute our rich and proud history while also welcoming a prosperous and innovative future. It was the official opening of the ‘King Building’ – our new home office administrative headquarters in Read Avenue, Lithgow.
Former Prime Minister and current Member for Warringah Tony Abbott was guest of honour for the event. He was welcomed by our CEO Grahame Danaher and members of the Board of Directors, and around 70 staff.
Mr Abbott was joined by official guests by Member for Calare Andrew Gee, and Lithgow Mayor Stephen Lesslie. There were also a number of local councillors and Council acting general manager Andrew Muir. Other industry dignitaries were also present at the private event.
Special tribute and welcome was paid to Lithgow’s Ross King. He's the son of the late James Wesley King (Wes) to whom the former RSL building is dedicated.
Grahame Danaher spoke to the fund’s commitment to its proud history in Lithgow. While giving the opening address, he also outlined the investment in expanding staff and reach across NSW and Queensland.
He put forward our strong position in regional support and advocacy. He also referred to our proud history as a mutual organisation founded on self-help and community.
Mr Danaher brought to attention the decline in regional Australia through loss of infrastructure. He said it was particularly reflected in educational and health share indicators.
“It is time that regional Australia is supported with substantial infrastructure which can benefit all of Australia. This country’s wealth still rides on agriculture and mining – not paper shuffling,” said Mr Danaher at the event.
“It is time to make regional Australia great again.”
“Westfund’s substantial investment in Lithgow is our contribution toward making a brighter future for our town of inception,” he said.
Mr Danaher welcomed the former Prime Minister. He said the fund were honoured to host a former Health Minister with strong connections to community service.
Mr Abbott’s response was a compelling and enjoyable address in which he commented on the value of regional Australia. He related this to the foundations of cooperative organisations in the social fabric of communities outside the urban landscape.
Our Board Chairman Howard Fisher also spoke, making particular mention of the enduring and loyal commitment of the organisation’s staff.
“We would not be the success we are today without you”, he said.
Mr Fisher also explained the decision to name the new complex the ‘King Building’. This is in honour of long-time Lithgow RSL Club Secretary-Manager James Wesley King (Wes).
The late Mr King, represented on the day by his son Ross with wife Olwyn. Mr King was Secretary Manager of the Lithgow RSL Club for 25 years. Throughout the 1950s, 60s and 70s he 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. He deserves particular mention for his input as Pensions and Welfare Officer where his sympathetic and kindly approach were valued.
On a busy day for us, a book detailing the organisations’ long and proud history was also launched.
‘Health Insurance in Regional Australia: The History of Westfund’ was written by Harry Knowles, Greg Patmore and Mark Westcott. It chronicles the fund’s establishment as a regional success story. This is based on its foundation forged on the principles of mutualism tied to Lithgow’s rich industrial heritage.
Dr Patmore offered an engaging address. It outlined the central theme of enduring success in the face of changing business conditions and government legislation.
He outlined the importance of mutualism and cooperative organisation as contributors to a valuable and resilient landscape for regional Australia.
The ceremony was adeptly emceed by our Director Wes Anderson.
The building was officially opened with a ribbon cutting carried out by Mr Abbott with our CEO and Board Chairman.
Staff then toured visitors throughout the new offices, which boast a state-of-the-art media room. This will facilitate more economic and time efficient communication between staff in remote locations.
Around 80 staff are now housed in the new building, drawing together the entire administrative staff under one roof. They’re involved in areas such as claims, call centre, records, product, finance, communications and development areas of the fund.
Our dental, eye care and care centre operations will continue as normal in Main Street, Lithgow.