The first attempt to form the PSA was in April 1886 by Arthur Josling and P.H. Somerville.
But it would be another 13 years before the union was actually established.
In an article entitled ‘A Middle Class Union; the early years of the Public Service Association of NSW’ (Labour and Industry vol.2 no.1 March 1989) Peter Sheldon states that:
Some of the more prominent members [of the Draftsmen’s Association] who were active as ‘gentlemen from various Ministerial Departments’ held a series of informal meetings which paved the way for an advertised public meeting in March 1899 [which led to the formation of the PSA].
That meeting of public servants was on 16 March, 1899 at Aarons’ Exchange Hotel in Gresham Street, Sydney where it was formally decided to form the union.
An interim committee was established to draw up a constitution which was adopted on 21 April of that year. The constitution was subsequently adopted by a meeting of public servants on 9 June, 1899 at the Protestant Hall, in Castlereagh Street, Sydney.
The meeting took place opposite the fire station and ironically, just a block from what would be the PSA’s office in the seventies.
The Chairman, Mr. Beaver, Clerk of the Peace, addressed the 9 June gathering and said:
. . . though we have a loyal and faithful service, we must have a fearless service. I mean a service which will not be spineless, or a cringing, craving service, which is always indicative of that which is wrong, because ultimately they would find that a service which dare not express its views in a reasonable and proper manner, and dare not ask for what was legitimately its rights, was bound, more or less, to be a menace to the State.
The constitution was submitted to the Premier, George Reid and the Public Service Board. Both approved of its contents.