The Australian Bankers’ Association traces its history back to the late 1940s when a national organisation was formed to oppose a Government proposal to nationalise the banking system. Since then, it has taken on many roles and responsibilities on behalf of its membership, but the modern organisation reflects major restructures that occurred in 1985 and 1997. In the mid 1980s, it was decided that the ABA’s role was too limited and that it would be broadened in favour of having a fully representative organisation of all licensed banks in Australia. Three existing organisations were merged to form the “new” Association. Those organisations were the Australian Bankers’ Association-Research Directorate, which was based in Sydney, and the Australian Bankers' Association and a Banking Education Service, both based in Melbourne. A couple of years later, the Banks’ Industrial Association was also integrated into the ABA.
A new constitution was drafted in 1985 to reflect a move towards an organisation which represented the views of members to government, discussed policy issues, looked at matters that might increase the efficiency of the industry, conducted industrial relations and public relations. In 1997, there were further changes to the mission of the ABA to focus the association on its principal benefits to members, that is, an advocate for the banking industry when dealing with Governments, the media and public.