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Australia Post

The Australia Post series of films at the National Archives of Australia is a collection of films and footage relating to the nation’s postal service.

The approximately 120 films, videos and television advertisements are predominantly owned and controlled by Australia Post, although there are a handful of titles belonging to other agencies such as the General Post Office of the UK. The titles were produced variously for recruitment campaigns, promotion of services, staff education and training, change management, and the celebration and recording of significant events.

The National Archives Australia Post collection covers a 50-year period, from 1942 to 1992. During this time postal services were controlled first by the Postmaster-General’s Department (PMG), then from 1975 onwards by the Australian Postal Commission (or Australia Post). The earliest title in the Australia Post series is a film record of the clock tower of the Sydney GPO building being dismantled during the Second World War, while the most recent title is an instructional video for mail sorting staff, dated 1992. The difference between them is indicative of the diversity of the collection.

The titles were produced or commissioned on a needs basis, both for use within the organisation and for external promotion. Original production formats included 16mm film, 8mm film, half-inch video, three-quarter inch video and one-inch video. The choices of format reflected a cost effectiveness approach to production, duplication and distribution.

The production of titles up until the 1970s was fairly infrequent, but two noteworthy films were made: Australia Post – Royal Tour (1954) and Australia Post – Olympic Post Script (1956). Prior to its division into Australia Post and Telecom Australia (now Telstra) the PMG controlled both postal and telecommunications services, including broadcasting. For the PMG, the Queen’s visit in 1954 and the Melbourne Olympic Games in 1956 were momentous events, and the two films celebrate achievements in communications technology on each occasion.

The bulk of the Australia Post collection was completed in the late 1970s and the 1980s. This period was bookended by two very significant events in the administration of the postal service: the split of the PMG in 1975 and the legislating of Australia Post as a Government Business Enterprise Corporation in 1989. It was also marked by the introduction of new technologies in the delivery of postal services. To aid in the management of these changes, Australia Post, under the New South Wales state administration of the commission, established a corporate communications unit. The unit produced a variety of training and education, in-house promotional, and recruitment programs. In addition, with a view to both priming and educating the public and promoting new services, a range of television commercials was commissioned. Some of the leading Australian advertising agencies of the day, such as Mojo, MDA, McCann Erickson and Clemenger, were contracted. Numerous state-of-the-art television ads, many winning awards, were made and televised within the context of national campaigns.

Titles in this collection

Australia Post – 200 Years 1988

With slogans like 'Celebrating a Nation’, the Bicentennial Authority directed emphasis towards celebrating multiculturalism rather than 200 years of white settlement.

Australia Post – Animation c1988

This Australia Post commercial promoting Faxpost has been shot at low speed to create the impression of high speed travel through empty Sydney streets.

Australia Post – Australia Post Inc 1990

The Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989 transformed the post office from an administrative centre focused on mail delivery to a sales-oriented shopfront.

Australia Post – Changing Times 1975

This black-and-white commercial informs the public of the split of the Postmaster-General’s Department into two independent Commissions. It offers a neat little history, using stills from Australia Post’s archive.

Australia Post – Express Courier 1988

These commercials promoting Australia Post’s courier service exploit the organisation’s reputation for reliability and dependability.

Australia Post – Intelpost 1987

This humorous TVC shows a series of instruction diagrams being delivered by Australia Post to a group of ancient would-be soccer players.

Australia Post – Joint Stamp Issue 1988

This program consists mainly of footage shot at the celebratory launch of the Australian–USA bicentennial stamp in Sydney’s Martin Place.

Australia Post – Lettergram 1988

In these television commercials Australia Post attempts to link Lettergram in the mind of the viewer with the traditional uses of the telegram.

Australia Post – Letter Writing Venice 1986

This ad was part of Australia Post’s ‘We Deliver’ campaign and produced to encourage international and intergenerational correspondence.

Australia Post – Meeting the Challenge 1988

This short training video from Australia Post management briefs personnel about the imminent corporate restructure and shift in image to a commercial service provider.

Australia Post – News Release E-Post Electronic Mail 1985

This 1985 video press release explains E-Post, a new service offered by Australia Post to replace the old telegram service and superseded teleprinter technology.

Australia Post – Olympic Post Script 1956

This film focuses on the telecommunications services set up especially for the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne. It also has footage of the sporting events that is unlikely to have survived in any other form.

Australia Post – Onward Speed 1970

Fred Schepisi wrote and directed Onward Speed as a sponsored film for Australia Post. It humorously instructs its target audience of executives, secretaries and mailroom staff in the efficient management of business mail.

Australia Post – Postcode Grandma 1988

This commercial targeted members of the community who at that time were not yet au fait with the new communication technologies.

Australia Post – Post Office Film 1942

This is a mute, black-and-white film record of the dismantling of the Sydney GPO clock tower to relocate communications equipment during the Second World War.

Australia Post – Post Office Speeds the Mail 1970

With the 1971 changeover from pushbike to motorcycle for mail delivery, Australia Post purchased a fleet of customised motorbikes from Honda.

Australia Post – Post Office Spruce Up 1987

This program introduced a competition between post offices to mark the launch of the first incarnation of commercial, sales-oriented post office shopfronts.

Australia Post – Postpak Rap 1988

This Australia Post commercial promotes the use of Postpaks for packaging parcels. With rap music still new to Australian popular culture at the time, this commercial was very successful.

Australia Post – Recruitment 1989

It’s interesting to look at the Australia Post jobs on offer in the late 1980s and compare them to employment opportunities available today.

Australia Post – Royal Tour 1954

As this program amply illustrates, an excited Australian public turned out in droves to see the Queen in 1954. For the PMG, her visit represented a coming of age.

Australia Post – Security 1989

While mail security may be a far greater problem today than in the past, here is evidence that mail security has always presented a substantial challenge.

Australia Post – Standard Letters 1974

This ad was made at a time when postage of a standard letter within Australia was only ten cents.

Australia Post – The Last of the TPOs 1985

This program marks the closure of the Travelling Post Office, a mail service that had worked in conjunction with Australia’s various railway networks since 1865.

Australia Post – This is the Mail 1966

When the $6 million Redfern Mail Exchange in Sydney was opened in 1965, it was hailed as the largest mechanised mail centre in the Southern Hemisphere.

Australia Post – We Deliver 1 1988

Television advertising played a major role in the establishment of Australia Post’s new corporate identity in the latter part of the 1980s.

Australia Post – We Deliver 2 1988

This series set out to promote the corporate image, while at the same time promoting Australia Post’s individual products and services.

Australia Post – We Deliver 3 1988

This series is a good example of the way in which the use of music in television commercials had changed by the late 1980s.