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The History of ASGA/SAA


Eventually, Bruce Cattenach suggested and hosted a meeting at his home to discuss price stabilization. The meeting was attended by Bruce Cattenach, Bruce Ruston, Carl Dawson, John Clifton, Howard Bressington and Tom Hughes. A second meeting at Bruce’s home a couple of weeks later was held with Ron Bidwell. Barry Russell, John Craig and Ken Miller were others who attended ensuing meetings. On 6th March 1967, this ever growing group attended a meeting at Howard Bressington’s place, with the inclusion of Ray Boyd (Merrylands) and Peter Elmore, an employee of Westside Signs (Howard’s firm). Bruce Cattenach was elected Chairman for the night. After some debate, the title Signpact Signwriters’ Association was adopted, which was later abbreviated to Signwriters Association by Mr A H Kington (the solicitor who drew up the Articles of Association). Bruce Ruston moved that the night be declared the Association’s Inaugural Meeting, Tom Hughes seconded the motion, which was carried unanimously. The first working committee President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, three Committee members were then elected and comprised the following: Bruce Cattenach, Tom Hughes, Howard Bressington, Bruce Ruston, Carl Dawson, Ray Boyd (Ray dropped out in July 1967), John Clifton. Invitations were mailed to all signwriters in the Sydney metropolitan area as listed in the Pink Pages, inviting them to the first official meeting which was held in the Parramatta East Progress Association Hall, North Parramatta. More than 40 signwriters attended, some accompanied by their wives. Two representatives of the Master Painters Association (MPA) offered the opinion that the Association would never get off the ground. They claimed it had been tried before by Dave Claney and others and that it would be better if all became members of the MPA. The first Price List recommended an hourly rate charge out of $3.00. This price list prompted Max Picard, visiting Australia from New Zealand, to forward the NZSDA Newsletters and price list, the format of which was then adopted by NSW. In October 1967, Russell Martin, Melbourne signwriter, visited Carl Dawson’s workshop and was invited to attend the Signwriters Association’s General Meeting on 5th October. Russell accepted the invitation and noted that the Victorian Signcraftsmen’s Association had been formed in 1963 and that the members might entertain some liaison with their NSW counterparts. The first Social Event was held on 6th December 1967 at the Westella Ballroom Auburn. The cost was $4.00 per head and 160 participated.


The name was changed to Signcraftsmen’s Association as an acceptance of the Victorian Association’s description of the varied application in our industry.


The first Convention was held at Strathaven Country Club, Wyong on the Queen’s Birthday weekend. The title was “Sign Seminar Seventy Two” and representatives of the Victorian Association attended.1973


The first national magazine was produced to publicise the existence of the Signcraftmen’s Association and to promote “Sign Seminar Seventy Three”.The second convention was attended by Canberra and District Signwriters’ Association representatives Joe Deren and Ian Hodges. This Association had evolved during the previous year. Also participating in this seminar were writers from the Newcastle area – Keith Greenwood, George Bear and others who informed us that the Master Signwriters Association had been formed in Newcastle in 1964, growing to a membership of more than a dozen in 1965, when the first Annual Dinner was held. Through lack of support, the Newcastle venture petered out in 1967 or 1968, winding down just as the Sydney Association emerged.


John Cox of Kiwi Signs Western Australia was the prime instigator of the formation of the Signcraftsmen’s Association of WA, which was inaugurated in September of that year and was affiliated with the Confederation of Industry in the State.


The first national meeting was held at “Sign Seminar Seventy Six” on 11th September. This was, of course, not the official first National Meeting, as the Queensland Association had not yet been formed. However, the Queensland contingent, the NSW and Victorian Committees were in attendance. Later, on 8th November in Brisbane, the inaugural meeting of the Queensland Branch was held. With three members of the NSW Committee in attendance, Brian Oxley (NSW President) chaired the election of officers. The South Australian Signwriter members of the MPA altered their title to become the Signcraftsmen’s Association of South Australia, however remaining affiliated with their State’s Master Painters Association.

1980 – 2005

Don Prairie from Tasmania attended a National Meeting in Melbourne in November 1980 with a view to forming a Tasmanian Association. It was eventually decided, however, that affiliation with Victoria was the most feasible course because of lack of sufficient numbers to set up a committee. The Sign Association of Australia became operative in the entire eastern sea board of Australia, with the West Australian Signcraftmen’s Association operative in WA. South Australia remained the only State where the Signcraftsmen were listed under the MPA.

2005 –

During 2005 and 2006, the various State Sign Associations met and formally agreed to amalgamate and become the Australian Sign & Graphics Association Inc (ASGA) with its own Constitution. The ASGA Head Office was set up in Chatswood, Sydney and Michael Punch was appointed the first General Manager with David Hay (NSW) National President. Each State elected its own State Regional Sub-Committee with the State Chairman being a member of the ASGA National Executive. John and Julie Hadfield, together with David Hay, Paul Price and others set up the first ASGA National Awards Event in 2005. Further Awards Events were held in 2006, 2008 and 2010. Membership of the Association has continued to grow during these years. Thanks to numerous member benefits, especially in a free Legal Advice Line, Industry Awards templates and information/certification Workshops, membership grew from 260 in 2005 to 480 by the 2010 AGM held in June of that year.

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