OES in Australia

Queensland

The OES in Australia was introduced by Brother Stewart Hall and Sister Sarah Hall from the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland.  Both members had been involved in founding the first few Chapters in Scotland and had come to Australia for health reasons.  Sarah Chapter No 31 was instituted on 13th July ,1912 in the Valley Masonic Hall, Wickham Street, Brisbane (Under the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland).  Sister Hall was the founding Worthy Matron, and Brother Hall, the founding Worthy Patron.

The growth of Chapters stalled for a few years and it wasn’t until 1922 that Golden Wattle Chapter No 189 and Hope Chapter No 192 were instituted.  Chapters continued to grow and by 1938, Queensland had 27 Chapters, mainly in the Brisbane/South Brisbane area.  In 1947, permission was granted to form the Brisbane District Grand Chapter and in 1952, South Brisbane District Grand Chapter was formed.

Chapters outside of the Brisbane area, and sometimes up to 2000 kilometres from the State Capital, were soon instituted.  To support those Chapters, Burnett District Grand Chapter was formed in 1964, followed by Far Northern District Grand Chapter in 1979, and North Queensland District Grand Chapter in 1980.

On Australia Day 1985, and in the same year that The United Grand Chapter of Australia came into existence, the Grand Chapter of Queensland was formed with a jurisdiction over the five District Grand Chapters in that State.

New South Wales & the Australian Capital Territory

In May 1912, authority was granted by the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland, to a Brother Fred T Pedersen, residing in Lithgow NSW, to confer the degrees and form the first Chapter in NSW.  In the end, two petitions for Chapters were approved of and both Southern Cross Chapter No 33 (in Sydney), and Hartford Chapter No 34 (in Lithgow) were instituted on 13th March, 1913.

In 1924, the Supreme Grand Chapter approved a petition for Sydney District Grand Chapter to be formed, and to have the power to supervise 9 Chapters in NSW and the ‘Federal Capital Territory’.  By 1946, NSW had 80 Chapters, and in 1946/47, the Sydney District Grand Chapter was divided into a number of Districts to enable more efficient management.

Illawarra District Grand Chapter (14/12/1946);
Eastern District Grand Chapter (21/12/1946);
Parramatta District Grand Chapter (11/1/1947);
Bankstown District Grand Chapter (1/2/1947);
Northern District Grand Chapter (22/2/1947); and
Hunter Valley District Grand Chapter (13/12/1947).

After lengthy negotiations, the Grand Chapter of New South Wales was Instituted on the 28th April 1951, as the governing body of the Order in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.  The ceremony took place in the Sydney Town Hall with representation from other Australian states, New Zealand and a total of 2,370 members in attendance.

On 15th May 1954, Western District Grand Chapter was formed and on 28th September 1985, Southern District Grand Chapter.  The Grand Chapter was renamed to the Grand Chapter of NSW & ACT Inc. in 2003.

Other States

The first Chapter instituted in Victoria was Melbourne Chapter No 252 on 18th April 1925, soon followed by Wattle Chapter No 301 in 1928. The Melbourne District Grand Chapter was Instituted in 1954 and had jurisdiction over the Chapters in Victoria until 22nd July, 2016, when the Grand Chapter of Victoria was Instituted.

The first Chapter instituted in South Australia was Adelaide Chapter No 324 on 29th October, 1929 but it wasn’t until 1936 that the next Chapter, Unity Chapter No 379 was Instituted.  In 1985, the Deputy Grand Matron’s Committee of South Australia was formed to supervise the Chapters in that jurisdiction.

Around the same time as South Australia instituted their first Chapter, Perth Chapter No 319 was instituted on 19th October 1929, followed by Claremont Chapter No 371 in 1935.  In 1985, the Deputy Grand Matron’s Committee of Western Australia was formed to supervise the Chapters in that jurisdiction.

It took a few years for the OES to reach Tasmania.  It wasn’t until 11th June 1960 that Tasman Chapter No 593 was instituted, soon followed by Hobart Chapter No 605 in 1961 and Tamar Chapter No 637 in 1967. In 1985, the Deputy Grand Matron’s Committee of Tasmania was formed to supervise the Chapters in that jurisdiction.

The United Grand Chapter of Australia

By the mid-1980s, 265 Chapters had been instituted across Australia including 14 District Grand Chapters and a Grand Chapter, with Queensland and New South Wales achieving most of this growth.

Members began to discuss the future direction of the Order in Australia and the possibility of obtaining autonomy from Scotland by establishing a ‘Sovereign Body’ of the Southern Hemisphere or specifically, Australia.

In 1984, a Joint Planning Committee was formed to discuss the ramifications of obtaining autonomy from the Supreme Grand Chapter of Scotland.  The Chairperson was Mrs Elaine O’Brien (OAM) and the elected members of this committee were as follows:

Following much effort and discussion, The United Grand Chapter of Australia Order of the Eastern Star came into being on 8th June, 1985 with “supreme and exclusive jurisdiction …. within the confines of the States and Territories of Australia and its dependencies”.