A friendly society (sometimes called a mutual society, benevolent society, fraternal organization or ROSCA) is a mutual association for the purposes of insurance, pensions, savings or cooperative banking. It is a mutual organization or benefit society composed of a body of people who join together for a common financial or social purpose. Before modern insurance, and the welfare state, friendly societies provided financial and social services to individuals, often according to their religious, political, or trade affiliations. These societies are still widespread in many parts of the developing world (Wikipedia).
Friendly societies were active in Barcaldine from its early years, traditionally founded on mutual self-help ideals.
‘Societies grew as ordinary Australians – labourers, miners, carpenters, bricklayers, stonemasons, blacksmiths, shop workers, railwaymen and others banded together to provide, by their own exertions and from their own slender resources, some of the medical and other essential services they lacked. They sought help from no one but each other and received none from either government or from the more affluent’ (Wikipedia).
For example, in 1888, the town supported two doctors, one at the hospital and another financed by contribution to the friendly societies (Ancient Order of Foresters, Catholic Hibernians, The Independent Order of Oddfellows, Freemasons).