Our History & Future
2022 marks Standards Australia’s 100th birthday. In celebrating this milestone, it’s important to remember and recognise the contribution and efforts of Standard Australia’s many Members, contributors, stakeholders and staff. These people are at the core of delivering standards that continue to benefit Australians in their daily lives.
The colourful history of Standards Australia
Standards Australia’s compelling history started with an engineering focus and has expanded to touch most aspects of modern life, various industries and multiple countries.
From its industrial roots, the company’s focus now includes consumer safety, occupational health, energy management and more – all with the purpose of improving the quality and comfort of everyday life.
Originally named the Australian Commonwealth Engineering Standards Association, the organisation now known today as Standards Australia was founded on October 12, 1922. In 1925 the company was recognised on the global stage by joining the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
During the Second World War the urgent need for defence standards called for the suspension of normal work. To support the war effort, the Standards Association of Australia, as it was then called, abandoned traditional standards development methods to expedite the delivery of emergency war standards.
The organisation continued working on the world stage and in 1947 helped found the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Just three years later, the company received a Royal Charter, demonstrating its national prominence. Continuing its international outreach, in 1973 Standards Australia became an inaugural member of Pacific Area Standards Congress (PASC) to promote standards development in the region.
Throughout the 1970s, the Standards Association of Australia was instrumental in helping Australia to ‘metricate’, transitioning from imperial forms of measurements to a full adoption of the metric system.
In 1988, the Standards Association of Australia shortened its name to Standards Australia. At this time, a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Federal government, recognising the organisation as Australia’s peak non-governmental standards development body.
Through the 1990s, the company established and acquired additional businesses, awards and programs. And in 1998 was one of the first national Standards bodies to sell their publications on the internet. In 1999, Standards Australia and became incorporated as a public company limited by guarantee (known as Standards Australia International Limited, or SAI Limited).
After four years, Standards Australia granted an exclusive license to publish and distribute Australian Standard® brand standards to SAI Global Limited, a newly founded independent company. This arrangement ended in 2019 and Standards Australia started selling its own publications as well as establishing additional commercial partnerships.
In anticipation of its centenary year, Standards Australia launched its own in-house digital store in 2021. The Standards Store offers a one-stop opportunity to purchase Australian standards and technical specifications as well as international ones.
With a vision is to deliver trusted solutions that improve life - today and tomorrow, Standards Australia is ambitious for the future. The organisation is active in promoting the growth of new industries to support the development of a safe and secure environment and create market confidence in new and established technical fields.
Standards Australia is at the forefront of developing strategies and standards for use of Blockchain, Critical and Emerging Technologies, Smart Cities, and Hydrogen Technologies, which in turn ensures Australian industry sits as a world leader in these areas.
Standards Australia is also investing in the future of standards development and its diversification through its NEXTgen initiative, a professional development program for young professionals to gain a greater understanding of how standards are created, and how to use their knowledge, expertise and background to make a contribution that can make a positive impact on lives around the country.
“To survive and thrive in this 100-year period of the most dramatic change in human history is no mean feat. Today we are the inheritors and stewards of the legacy of this long history and the work of all who have gone before us,” said Adrian O’Connell, Chief Executive Officer at Standards Australia.
“Our objective is to build on this legacy and unleash the potential in this great organisation to be a global leader in trusted solutions that deliver even greater value to Australia, its economic and social advancement,” he concluded.
With many competing needs and considerations, the focus remains simple; continue to develop and maintain the standards we have today, whilst ensuring it will remain relevant and accessible tomorrow.