History of the Showmens Guild

The first meeting of the Showmen’s Guild in Australia was convened in Orange, NSW in 1908. The Showmen’s Guild of Australasia (the SGA) was registered under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, 1904-1926 on the 7th February 1927 at Melbourne, as an “Organization of Employers in connection with the Showmen’s Industry.”

The SGA will be proudly celebrating their centenary throughout 2008 with the theme, “100 NOT OUT”. All the members are eagerly looking forward to a strong and exciting future for the Showmen’s Industry. The SGA consists of around 500 members whose families and their staff are governed by a volunteer committee of twenty five members elected by their peers. The election is conducted annually by The Australian Electoral Commission. The committee administers the SGA Code of Conduct, which has been authorized by the Australian Competition and Consumers Commission. Members meet with Work Place Health and Safety standards and Occupational Health and Safety standards and Local, State and Commonwealth Governments’ statutes, relevant to the amusement industry. By invitation, two members currently sit on the Australian Standards Committee M E51 it is responsible for setting and constantly reviewing the safety standards and procedures for the amusement industry under AS3533.

The SGA has a close working relationship with the Agricultural Societies Council of NSW, the Queensland Chamber of Agricultural Societies and their affiliates. The SGA Committee with the participation of the members, assist show societies and organizers at over 300 shows, super shows and carnivals etc., across two states and territories each year where the SGA manages the amusement area. The assistance given takes many forms from special projects to promotions aimed at increasing gate attendances, which aids not only the event organizers and members, but is of particular benefit to the general public attending those events.

The annual show is the highlight of the year in many cities, regional and remote areas throughout the country. A Commonwealth Government survey revealed that the recreational activity most participated in by the Australian population was “attending an agricultural show”; yes it did out- rank recreational fishing. Agricultural shows are a unique tradition in Australia, and members, whether they are first or in some cases sixth generation travelling showmen, are staying abreast of the latest international amusement trends. This is not only good business practice, but offers the public world class entertainment as far afield as Perth, Hobart, Cairns, Darwin and many points in between each year.

For generations, members lobbied Governments throughout Australia for funding to educate their children, the children of SGA members, and their staff, itinerate traders, equestrian competitors and others who annually travel the Australian show circuits.

In 1999 a jointly funded project between the Commonwealth Government providing capital expenditure and the Queensland Government committing to ongoing recurrent funds. Two purpose built, hydraulic fold-out classrooms, with fully networked satellite IT and ICT networks, were constructed to support the education of pre-school to year 7 children. Other capital works included a Brisbane office and library base, 2 teacher accommodation units and three 4WD staff vehicles to support a Principal, 4 classroom teachers, 2 operations officers and a part time School Registrar. The Queensland School for Travelling Show Children was officially opened at the Royal Brisbane Show in August 2000. QSTSC enables the children to obtain the education other families have always known. The school is unique in the delivery of educational services throughout the world. It is the first school to successfully address the issue of occupational mobility by maintaining continuity of curriculum, teaching staff and resources regardless of the weekly change in location throughout the school year. The school makes it possible for the children to gain a formal primary school education, while being nurtured in the family environment, within their own travelling community.

Side-show alley has changed dramatically during the last century. Gone is the manually driven Razzle Dazzle, the wooden Helter Skelter, the petrol driven Horse-o-Plane and the Tent Show. Today, the children’s rides include the ever popular carousels and the very latest rides the market has on offer. The young and young at heart are catered for with cutting edge, state of the art, computerised light bejewelled, push button wonders to behold. They propel riders at all angles and in every direction as is possible to move, sometimes all at once. Members are forever upgrading their equipment, for although the camaraderie is deep and strong, the competition is very real, keeping the industry vibrant and buzzing with excitement. Things are looking UP, UP, UP, and whirling all the while, as we hurtle head-long into our second century and the wonder of what innovations it may bring, when the SGA is “200 NOT OUT”.

This is an ever changing entertainment medium. So come along to your show, feel the buzz be thrilled, dazzled and spoiled for choice. The Showmen’s Guild of Australasia and its members invite you to join with them in the celebration of 100 years of thrills, wonder and excitement!!!