Where are they now – Joe Ballinger (SPC 1953-54, PY1956)

October 23, 2023

The College reconnected with Old Collegian Joe Ballinger (SPC 1953-54, PY1956) who has enjoyed a full and rewarding work career and is known to many more from his many and varied community pursuits. Joe shares some of his fondest memories of his time at SPC, including being a student when Br Bill O’Malley’s St Pat’s team lost its first football premiership after a 49-year glory run.


Where has life taken you since leaving SPC?

My education began at St Aloysius Primary School in Redan before moving to Christian Brothers’ Drummond St, from grade three right through to grade eight. From there, courtesy of a scholarship from the Brothers, I attended St Pat’s College in 1953-1954.

Joe Ballinger answering questions from MC Dennis Foley at the recent OCA Winter Warmers Lunch at the Golden City Hotel in Ballarat.

The first year was in sub-intermediate as then called (Year 9) with Br (Big Bert) Murphy, a good teacher. The “B” class consisted of all first-year students at St Pat’s. The next year I was subject to the legendary Br Bill O’Malley with his unique teaching method and his great success with students doing Latin. He was also coach of the First XVIII and as it happened after 49 years of winning St Pat’s lost their first premiership. Surprisingly, Br Bill took it well. At the end of that year, I left school and my main regret was I never got to try out for the First XVIII.

After leaving St Pat’s, I worked for a short period as an invoice clerk with a local wholesale grocer. My father had died during my first year at St Pat’s and mum moved to the country with myself and two younger sisters. I took a temporary job with the Leigh Shire Council and resigned five years later to take up a position as Branch manager of a collection agency in Horsham. Whilst there I married Helen. We have 5 children and 14 grandchildren.

On returning to Ballarat, I spent seven years employed by CAGA, a finance company. Over that period, I completed an Accountancy degree through a correspondence course I began in Horsham.

My next move became my real career as CEO (originally called Secretary) with Victorian Savings & Loan Society, later better known as VS&L. This was rewarding, satisfying and an exciting role as it was a period of substantial growth for the building society industry.

Our local business eventually merged into St George Building Society two years after the collapse of the Pyramid Group which precipitated a recession and the failure of the Victorian State Savings Bank, which was absorbed by the Commonwealth Bank.

I retired from St George at the time it converted to a bank. It was later merged with Westpac, but the Victorian operation was retained as a subsidiary so that the humble VS&L I began with is still operating as The Bank of Melbourne.

If you could pass on one message to the students of today, what would it be?

I would advise them to apply themselves and work hard to achieve their goals, but not to the point of anxiety. If they don’t get the marks they desire, living the values they receive at St Pat’s will do more to achieve a happy life than a brilliant business or academic career.

Joe, pictured in his SPC inter A class photograph in 1954.


Joe, pictured in the whole school photograph in 1954.

Joe, pictured in his sub-intermediate B class photograph in 1953.