Established as a friendly society in Ballarat 139 years ago, UFS Dispensaries is one of the original social enterprises (UFS is an abbreviation for United Friendly Societies).
Friendly society pharmacy groups played an important role as social enterprises in the 1800s, when they were established to ensure the reliable supply of unadulterated medicines to their mainly poor members, at an affordable price. In fact friendly society pharmacies are the longest, continuous operators of the practice of pharmacy in Australia.
Fast forward to today and UFS is still operating as a social enterprise on a not-for-profit basis, existing solely for the benefit of its members, working to improve the health of both its members and the local communities where it operates.
As a mutual organisation, UFS is wholly owned by its members. Membership is open to anyone, and costs just $10 per year. Any profits generated are used to improve services for members, invest in staff and support the local community through sponsorship and donations.
UFS now owns and operates 17 pharmacies in the western region of Victoria, as well as other business units, including UFS Medical, Supercare Nursing Services and Peace & Quiet day spa. Since February 2011, UFS has operated three pharmacies in Coburg in Melbourne’s inner north, on behalf of another friendly pharmacy group, Friendly Pharmacy (Victoria) Ltd.