Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School

Our story

We've come a long way

Nurturing your financial future by caring like a small fund and delivering like a big one

If anything’s worth doing, it’s worth fighting for. Especially if it has the potential to change lives.

VISSF was born from this philosophy. Back in 1958 a group of female teachers at independent girls’ schools in Victoria realised they would not have a sufficient income stream in retirement. To secure a better future for all, they knew they would have to act. So they fought. They fought for their right to a safe and secure future. They fought for all women who needed an option that wasn’t their husband’s bank account. And they became pioneers in a movement that would see super become a compulsory right for all Australian workers, regardless of gender.

The spirit that founded VISSF is now the reason we continue.

Today, we fight to ensure we never lose our personal touch. We fight for accountability and reliability. We fight to work smarter. And we always fight to think big, act small and pull no punches when it comes to making the right decisions on behalf of our members.


Ever wondered how a super fund is born?

Like all good success stories, we boast a proud and sometimes revolutionary history. Discover how our past is helping us build your future through our interactive history of superannuation timeline.

Photo caption: Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School

Lowther Hall Anglican Grammar School

1914 - 1918

First World War

At the end of the First World War (1914–1918) many Australian women were dealing with the consequences of war - managing family responsibilities alone, resource shortages and uncertain futures, and all while coping with the grief and trauma of losing their loved ones.

On top of this, the impact of the war on the economy meant that more and more, girls were requiring education. Under the leadership of Archbishop Lowther Clarke, the Anglican Church established church schools in the main suburbs of Melbourne to cater for this new generation of increasingly educated women.

Schools such as Lowther Hall in Essendon, Ivanhoe Girls', Camberwell Girls' Grammar and Shelford in Caulfield, joined Melbourne Girls Grammar, Firbank, St Michaels, and Mentone Girls' Grammar as members of this group. The Presbyterian and Methodist churches were also active in the development of girls' church schools. Some non-denominational schools, such as Fintona and St Catherine's, were growing at this time. Country families were also creating demand for boarding schools. 

So began a period of massive growth for schools throughout Australia.

1930's - The Depression

An idea was put forward

The Wall Street Crash in 1929 and the subsequent economic collapse reverberated around the world. There was a sense of crisis throughout Australian society, with increasing numbers of homeless and unemployed, at a time when pensions and social welfare were not fully developed. In 1938, a National Health and Pensions Bill was passed, but its introduction was delayed and then abandoned.

Teachers and assistants employed in the post World War I church schools prided themselves on serving their schools for life. Some of the women could foresee that, after they retired from paid employment, they would still need an income to live on. The seed of an idea was forming.

1939 - 1945 - Second World War

A union rose up

The Second World War again placed financial strains on many families in cities and rural areas. These effects were felt throughout the faculty of Victorian schools.

The Assistant Mistresses Association of Victoria (AMAV) - formed in 1921 - had been lobbying to improve the labour conditions of women working in schools for many years. Because higher salaries and the prospect of superannuation meant higher school fees, it was a hard struggle waged over many decades. January 1946 saw the protracted battle for salary justice finally won with the creation of the Teachers' (Girl's Schools) Wages Board.

Photo caption: Methodist Ladies’ College, Community Fundraiser Hall c1950

Methodist Ladies’ College, Community Fundraiser Hall c1950

1958 - A fund was born

New beginnings with VISSF

On 16 December 1958, many long years before super was a standard employment requirement, the Victorian Girls' Schools Association Superannuation Fund - later to be known as VISSF - was born. Founded by a group of female teachers working at independent schools in Victoria, the fund fought for the right to a safe and secure future. They fought for all women who needed an option that wasn't their husband's bank account. And they became pioneers in a movement that would see super become a compulsory right for all Australian workers, regardless of gender.

The first schools to sign up were Fintona, Lauriston, Mentone, MLC, Morongo (a Geelong school, since closed), PLC, Preshil, Ruyton, and St Margaret's in Berwick. Some Anglican schools joined later. The firm of M. G. Roberts and Co Chartered Accountants became the administrators and Mr Malcolm Roberts, and later his son Graeme, were Secretaries of the Fund until Graeme Roberts death in 1997.

Photo caption: Methodist Ladies’ College, Sports Day c1970

Methodist Ladies’ College, Sports Day c1970

1976 - Defined benefits introduced

Certainty was restored

The year 1976 saw defined benefit plans introduced at VISSF, providing certainty to members as they would now receive a salary upon their retirement. And because employers were responsible for all the planning and investment risk, members didn't have to worry about market slumps, inflation or how to survive financially should they live to a very old age. While defined benefits are no longer offered to new school employees, we continue to take care of the financial needs of our remaining defined benefit members.

1986 - Australia catches up

Compulsory benefits introduced in Australia

When super became compulsory in 1986, it would not have been possible to require every employer to take on the cost and responsibility of providing defined benefits. Instead, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission arbitrated on an ACTU claim that all employees covered by an Award should be provided with 3% super. Unfortunately, not all workers were covered by awards and not all employers complied.

1992 - 1998 - Compulsory benefits extended

Super in Australia strengthens

The Labor Government implemented the Superannuation Guarantee (SG), which extended retirement savings to 72% of all workers. Employers were required to make prescribed contributions on behalf of their employees to a complying superannuation fund. Super contributions were progressively increased between 1992 and 2002, from 3% to 9%.

Forty years and counting

VISSF celebrated 40 years' of operation in 1998. At that time, VISSF had more than 5000 members with $170 million in funds under management.

2000 - 2006 Pensions take off

Two new ways to manage funds in retirement

On 1 July 2000, VISSF's account based pension fund was launched. Retired fund members now had the option to convert their super savings into a regular source of income while continuing to earn investment returns. The first VISSF pension and retirement calculator was added to the website, which was very ahead of its time.

This was later followed by the transition to retirement pension which was introduced on 1 January 2006, making the shift from work to retirement a lot easier. Members could now choose to remain in the workforce while dipping into their super benefits to supplement their income.

2007 - 2008 - Economic downturn

Financial uncertainty rocks super funds

While the economic downturn had less impact in Australia than other advanced economies, the global financial crisis (GFC) nonetheless caused Australian super fund assets to drop by 160 billion between December 2007 and June 2009*.  While the GFC created a period of negative returns for members, in the long term, the market would bounce back.

Through thick or thin

In 2008, VISSF celebrated five decades of successful service to members with a tribute for all those who had devised strategies and worked with us over the years.

* Choice (2018), Future-proof your super, available hereOpens in new window

2015 - 2017 - VISSF goes digital

The digital march begins

VISSF's perpetual quest to give members more of what they need when it comes to super, retirement, product features and member services takes a giant leap forward as it embraces the potential of digital transformation. A slew of new member services are rolled out over the coming years.

  • Member Online is introduced, with a portal allowing members to easily review and manage their super from a computer or tablet.
  • Employers go online too with their own portal and clearing house, providing a fast and secure way to meet super obligations.
  • A complimentary telephone advice service meant all members could access simple pieces of financial advice on an extensive range of topics - at no cost, over the phone.
  • A handy mobile app was developed to help members connect with their super on the go.
  • Pension Online was also launched, allowing VISSF members to easily start a pension account and enjoy the convenience of online management. 
  • VISSF introduced an insurance cover calculator to help members better understand their insurance needs.
  • Online services for claims and cover changes are upgraded, while an enhanced version of the calculator is released to enable insurance quotations.
  • VISSF also introduced the ability to consolidate super online within the member portal and over the phone.

2018 - VISSF at 60

Caring like small fund, delivering like a big one

In 2018, VISSF celebrated 60 years of assisting, guiding and supporting members. Over the years, we have expanded to manage more than $780 million in funds.

VISSF celebrated the launch of Interactive Member Statements, allowing members to:

  • Access personal, at-a-glance super dashboards and take action from every online page 
  • Drill down or make changes to their investment mix
  • Find & combine  super instantly, 
  • Manage insurance cover or request an advice appointment.
  • Plan their financial future using a retirement projection simulator or play out different scenarios using the new calculator. 

We also attracted industry recognition, awarded a number of super and pension ratings, including a 4 Apples Rating by Chant West.

2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic

A seismic economic impact

What started primarily as a health crisis, the coronavirus created volatility in global investment markets, which in turn, impacted super account balances.

As part of the economic response to the pandemic, the Australian Government announced changes to super settings. This included temporarily relaxing the rules relating to the early release of super for individuals affected by the coronavirus pandemic. It also temporarily reduced the minimum drawdown requirements for pensions.

As always, VISSF remained focused on positioning investment portfolios to deliver the best long term outcomes for members.

To support members mental wellbeing during this time, VISSF began offering members access to Headlight. This anonymous and secure online tool provides members with a range of evidence-based resources and tailored recommendations based on their individual circumstances.

VISSF Today

VISSF is no longer just for teachers, but for anyone who works within the education industry. We believe in making your super simple to manage in the present, so you can enjoy a better life in the future. 

The spirit that founded VISSF is the reason we continue today.

Learn more