Only 16 years after John Batman landed on the banks of the Yarra River in 1835, Melbourne had grown into a prospering town with a population of 29,000. Entrepreneurs had opened numerous business ventures and they needed a forum to share knowledge and connections, foster opportunities and work together to improve trading conditions.
In 1851, the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce was born with members representing the diverse range of trades operating at Port Phillip, including merchants, importers, financiers, ship owners, manufacturers, brokers and more. Many of the initial Chamber members were closely involved in the political life of the colony, holding positions on the Melbourne City Council and Victorian Parliament.
The Melbourne Chamber, as it was then known, was instrumental in shaping the city we work in today. The Chamber supported the Federation of Australia from as early as 1869 (although it did not come into effect until 1901), and was heavily involved in advocating for improvement works for shipping facilities with the establishment of the Melbourne Harbour Trust in 1877. This tradition of influence continues in the Victorian Chamber’s present-day work as we continue to advocate on behalf of our members.
From 1991, our organisation became widely known as the Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry, reflecting our membership base across the state. In 2015, the organisation’s name officially changed to the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry as we became part of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Melbourne Chamber of Commerce was also established as a separate entity to service medium to large businesses.
Today, we are proud to be the largest and most influential not-for-profit business organisation in Victoria, informing and supporting 47,000 members and clients across our great state with the knowledge, resources and networks needed to move confidently into the future.