APANA's roots extend back to an organisation called "pubnet", which was born back in an era when Internet access was highly restricted. In those days, it was really only universities which had (or were allowed) Internet access. Pubnet provided email facilities to its members by means of "uucp" (which basically just copied files containing messages) and modem based delivery.
APANA was born (before ?)when a commercial company made full-time, realtime access to the Internet available. In fact, APANA originally stood for "Australian Public Access Network Association". It's goal was to provide Internet access to those who otherwise not be eligible to get it.
Of course, those days are long since gone, but APANA still provides opportunities to learn about real-world networking and to improve technical skills. Several upgrades in recent years have continued provided memebrs from not just Adelaide but as far away as London to be involved in refining and enhancing the service.