Pre WWII History

The earliest source regarding the Brisbane Junior Chamber of Commerce was found in a Brisbane newspaper, ‘The Telegraph’ on Wednesday 11th of December, 1935. This article states that the question of starting a Junior Chamber in Brisbane had been discussed some years ago revealing a history dating back pre-1935! In summary, the formation of a Junior Chamber of Commerce in Sydney has caused some interest in Brisbane at the time. It was likely to receive favourable consideration from the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce with the idea to train young men to become members of the senior Chambers at a later date.


The First Meeting

On Wednesday, 21st of November, 1945 an enthusiastic meeting of approximately 30 young businessmen was held and they decided to hold an upcoming inaugural meeting of the Junior Chamber of Commerce on December 12th.

Three months after the end of World War II, on Wednesday 12th of December 1945, the Junior Chamber of Commerce elected its President and Committee - our earliest record of such an instance.

As a side note, it’s interesting that talks about forming a Junior Chamber were discussed in 1935 (and likely earlier) and it appears it’s first official President and Committee were finally formed 3 months after the end of WWII in 1945. Perhaps with the end of the war, and men coming home prompted the official start or reimagining of the Brisbane Junior Chamber of Commerce, however history records aren’t clear that the chamber only started at this point or going back to the early 1930s, or even earlier.

Picture shows: (L to R): Messrs A. B. Carter (Carter and Richardson, solicitors), L. K. Valery (of the staff of Gestetner (Aust.) Ply. Ltd.), and Ron Weatherstone (accountant, Brisbane office of Broken Hill Pty.) listening intently to an address by Mr H. L Ball at the meeting today.


Expansion Programme.

On Tuesday, 15th of July, 1952 a Brisbane news article stated that although the Junior Chamber started recently, the chamber had reached a stage where matters were working smoothly and progressively for the benefit and betterment of the city of Brisbane.

In November of ‘52 the Brisbane Junior Chamber of Commerce had embarked on an expansion programme for the establishment of other chapters in Queensland. The only other chapter in Queensland was Toowoomba and it was planned to open further chapters in northern and western centres. There was a tremendous potential in the Junior Chamber movement to build a better world and its aim was to train young men to work for the good of the community.

Please note that history from the pre 1980s has unknown gaps as information could not be found. Our search will continue to best complete the extensive journey of our chamber. If you find any information between this time period please let us know!

Presidents during this period-

Matthew Brannelly (1983-1987)
Russell Postle (1988)
Stephen Conry (1989 & 1990)

The New Beginnings

1983 saw the BJCC reborn and ready to conquer the 80s and all its permed hair, flared pants and cassette tapes. Technology was beginning to truly transform how we lived and worked, and it needed a chamber to provide a platform for growth, networking and advocacy. Before long the BJCC cemented it’s place within the Brisbane landscape and struck a AC/DC chord with young professionals and business owners alike.

Picture shows: Documentation on achievements in 1986.

Inaugural Hot Foot Biathlon

The Inaugural Hot Foot Biathlon was organised by the BJCC in aid of the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Held on August 24th, 1986 beginning and ending at Orleigh Park, West End.

The three stages of the race included a 5km run, 13km cycle and 2km run to finish. Entries ranged from novices to Queensland and Australian multisport champions! The event attracted over 350 entries and raised $550 for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

The day proved to be a huge success and fun was had by all. It brought like minded people together to support a great cause and this effort showed the true spirit of the BJCC.

Picture shows: Brisbane showcasing itself in Expo '88.

Gala Breakfast of ‘88

The Gala Breakfast of ‘88 was held on Thursday 10th December 1987 and was hosted in the Grand Windsor Ballroom at The Crest Hotel (now Pullman - Ann St). It was an immense event that drew together between 100 to 200 people! Oftentimes the BJCC would welcome Prime Ministers, Premiers and Lord Mayors to their events providing a direct voice for our members to advocate to and hear from those shaping our city and country alike.

The theme of the Gala Breakfast of ‘88 was ‘Tourism in Queensland - Its Importance’. Speeches were given about industry projections and the potential benefits of tourism in Queensland. This was extremely relevant with tourism now makes up a major part of Queensland’s economy and will continue to do so in the future!

The BJCC is harnessing this today by continuing to build a community that empowers and connects future leaders. In the 1987 Contacts Bulletin President Matthew Brannelly stated, “the BJCC has developed into a strong dynamic organisation with a tremendous future.” Now almost 40 years later this statement has proved to be incredibly true and we look forward to many more prosperous years!

Picture shows: Calibre One Magazine.

Calibre One Magazine

Calibre One Magazine launched its first of many volumes in March of 1986, steaming ahead with its first words, “The Start of Something BIG”, and with impressive cargo: sponsors, event invitations, jokes corner, president’s message and much more!

Calibre One became a prestigious value add for the BJCC membership offering, acting as an information source, networking tool, and a strong point of persuasion for signing potential members.

Such an offering to its members was invariably unprecedented in Brisbane Chambers, setting the BJCC apart in one of the then primary media channels (magazines), and making membership with the BJCC something to be proud of.

The BJCC today utilises many primary channels of media (Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) to broadcast to members and non-members. As you can see, over the years the form of delivering communication has evolved but the purpose remains the same.

Presidents during this period-

Keith Abraham - 1991 & 1992
Matthew Zanki - 1993 & 1994
Mark Paddenburg - 1995
Jason Titman - 1996 & 1997
Robert Dunne - 1998
Matt St. Ledger - 1999

Picture shows: Kickstart flyer.


Today’s BJCC is host to many 90s babies - little did Luke & Samuel know when they joined the chamber in 2019 as two starry-eyed corporate hopefuls, the BJCC was launching off its 80s success throughout the boys’ birth decade. Legend has it echoes of Samuel’s first baby cries could be heard at the BJCC’s monthly ‘Kickstart’ cocktail party from the RBWH, late on a Friday night.

Kickstart social events were held on the last Friday of every month. They were a way to kickback, network and introduce prospective members to the organisation, often attracting up to 200 people.

Events were held at locations across the city such as Friday’s, City Rowers and Travelodge Hotel. The BJCC even welcomed a sponsorship with Carlton and United Breweries through Carlton’s QLD Director, Mike Pelly, who became a great supporter of the chamber and its progress.

Today the BJCC still hosts quality, regular social events such as ‘Cocktails & Connections’ and ‘After Hours Social’ and, just like its 90s predecessor, tickets sell out, suds bubble and members form & strengthen quality networks.

Picture shows: Handbook for ‘Flatstrap Conference’ in June 1995 at the Hyatt Regency in Sanctuary Cove.


A clear expression of the chamber’s unique events designed to project Brisbane’s junior professionals into caretakers & champions of our great city, the BJCC held ‘Flatstrap Conference’ in June 1995 at the Hyatt Regency in Sanctuary Cove. The conference included 5 star resort accommodation, meals, entertainment, guest speakers & lots more! The theme of the weekend was, ‘The Quest for Business Excellence’, highlighting the vast dedication the chamber had, considering it devoted three days to ensuring Brisbane’s young professionals were equipped for business excellence.

The outcome of the event was extremely positive and attendees gained immense much value at the conference. Speakers & highly regarded trainers gave members insights on personal wellbeing, stress management, personal qualities and business challenges.

Picture shows: Extract from a corporate membership proposal 1994.

Corporate Membership

In 1994 the BJCC provided “a vital opportunity for growth and achievement” through its Corporate Membership Proposal, accolading past achievements, member successes and its strong presence as “The Young Voice of Business”.

The BJCC now boasted a 200 strong membership base (largest chamber of commerce in Australia at the time) as a key offering to potential corporate sponsors. They also began to collect a very impressive pool of member success stories (screenshot below) to leverage for prospective members and corporate ties.

Picture shows: Handbook for ‘Flatstrap Conference’ in June 1995 at the Hyatt Regency in Sanctuary Cove.

Today’s chamber continues to actively engage corporate membership and key sponsorships/partnerships through its ‘Membership Team’, led by Lois Penney & Luke Nolan to create enticing benefits to both potential members and corporate sponsors. Ultimately, any membership proposal aims to benefit Brisbane city with ongoingly exponential success.

Presidents during this period-

Grant Titman - (2000 & 2001)
Craig Wyld - (2002)
Cathie Wilson - (2003)
Darren Sonter - (2004 & 2005)
Adam Massey - (2006)
Tanya Conole - (2007)
Adam Penberthy - (2009)

Picture shows: 20 years reunion invitation.

The 20th Year BJCC Reunion

A new millenia meant 90s tech and household vacuum cleaners could no longer be called the ‘something-2000’ and be considered cutting edge - things change and, just like New Year’s resolutions, there’s an expectation to evolve with time.

The BJCC was no exception to this rule, and embraced the 2000s with open arms, creating its own sense of the ‘something-3000’ - newer, better and more ‘Brisbane’. With this came the opportunity to regroup and create a fresh start through annual alumni dinners and past president reunions. Something big was brewing. The proverbial ‘path’ was being marked out into a running track for the next decade (2010s) of the BJCC to race into Brisbane city’s now-status of world class.

The 20th Year BJCC Reunion (from relaunch in 1983) was held on Friday 5th December 2003 and was combined with the BJCC December Christmas Party and offered old BJCC members and their colleagues the opportunity to come together, reconnect and celebrate 20 years!

The event offered the opportunity to reconnect and network with past BJCC Presidents, members and colleagues. It showed the legacy of the organisation and the importance of creating lasting relationships.

Picture shows: Invitation for business forum

The Business Breakfast

Held at the Stamford Plaza, on October 15th, 2003, was the prestigious Business Breakfast Forum. The event was hosted by Former Lord Mayor Jim Soorley, along with Former BJCC President (1983-1987) and Brannelly Group MD Matthew Brannelly.

The topic of the forum was ‘conquering the fear of failure’ and ‘having a go’. Attendees of the event were able to learn, connect, expand their social circle and meet other like-minded professionals. The event was well regarded by all who attended!

It gave people the opportunity to come together and hear from high calibre business owners and leaders such as Jim Soorley and Matthew Brannelly. By teaching members and allowing them to grow, the BJCC is adding considerable value. BJCC looks forward to connecting and educating members for many years to come!

Presidents during this period-

Sarina Eggers - 2013
Jason Andrew - 2013 to 2015
Christie McCabe - 2015 & 2016
Nathan Schokker - 2016 to Present

Picture shows: Renewed Junior Chamber of Commerce.

The Rejuvenation

The most recent decade of the BJCC has been bookended by reinvention and drastically shifted thinking for entirely different reasons. Our chamber found itself dormant and lacking energy and drive in the early teens, requiring a new guard of aspiring professionals and business owners ready to create new paths, new opportunities and new vision for not only our chamber but for our city & region at large.

This is in contrast to where we found ourselves at the end of the decade upended by a global pandemic, marked with endless Zoom calls, hand sanitiser and the ‘pivot’. Never done before events and approaches were needed combined with an internal focus on our burgeoning community, has seen the BJCC continue to push forward onto it’s next exciting steps.

Back to the start of the decade, and in its quest for rebirth and reinvigoration, the BJCC brought to life a new logo, two new websites and a reconnection with our chambers alike across the entirety of Queensland, and more closely the only other ‘junior chamber’ within Australia, based on the Gold Coast. These early steps weren’t always easy, and didn’t always go to plan, but they did reestablish the necessity for a chamber focused on young professionals & business owners pushing for the best Brisbane for all.

Come the mid point of the decade, our current website was launched and set the path forward for engaging, informative and innovative events not seen before: focused on and directed at young people.

Picture shows: 2020 X'mas party in W Hotel


Across this decade, our chamber has continued to grow and capture an emerging community in excess of 6,000 individuals and businesses across Greater Brisbane whilst cementing our place amongst Brisbane’s leading organisations. Partnerships with UQ Business School, AICD, CCIQ and Brisbane City Council have further propelled our community forward with education, insights and networks designed to positively shape and grow our great city.

Of course, we’ve had plenty of fun at extravagant Xmas parties (Boom Boom Room & W Hotel) along with furthering our cultural understandings with thanks to partners such as QAGOMA.

Ending this decade, is the event that touched us all, COVID-19. The happening no one could have planned for, let alone truly predicted. Our community was in no way immune to its affects, with heavy impacts to business revenues, employment and overall economic opportunities. Yet, as our community proved not ten years earlier, we are one of, if not, the most resilient communities in existence

We adapted, we innovated, dare we say, we pivoted…

Picture shows: Pioneer of virtual wine tasting.


Virtual wine tastings, chocolate event held via Facebook & Instagram live, reimagined events and refined educational opportunities, with a core focus on shepherding our community and supporting those local businesses who supported us, is what marked 2020.

Witnessing first hand the pain and angst these near immeasurable events brought about, our chamber time and again came to life and took action where it was needed most through the launch of a hyper local driven tourism platform, Local As Qld, along with a free for everyone, super secure, digital contact tracing platform, SafeVisit.

Where to Now?

That’s our history (up until now), as each and everyday our community continues to grow and strive forward seeking the best for each other and Brisbane. Now an Olympics beckons us forward, don’t miss your place amongst our storied history and join us on this incredible journey!

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