History of AMA Victoria
Doctors have played a critical role in the development of Victoria since first settlement. Pioneering Victorian doctors administered to their patients under extremely difficult circumstances. Addressing public health issues to prevent disease became a priority. Doctors led public debate on the need for a safe water supply, improvements to sanitation and the establishment and equipping of a hospital to service the colony.
The first doctors quickly established a forum to support collegiate discussion on issues important to the profession and to the health of the colonists. Continually seeking to advance their knowledge and improve the quality of care to their patients they were extremely frustrated by their isolation from their London colleagues. Medical journals were at least three months old on their arrival.
The Port Phillip Medical Association, the first medical association in the Australian colony, was fashioned on the British Medical Society to which the doctors belonged. The Australian Medical Association - Victoria originated from the Port Phillip Medical Association and British Medical Society. A primary role of the associations in their various forms was to unify the profession to advance medical care in Victoria.
Throughout the history of Victoria, AMA Victoria members have led the debate to achieve improvements in medical care.
Education, registration, improving the standard of care available in public hospitals and mental institutions are common themes in the minutes of meetings of the Victorian branch of the British Medical Society. The same issues are at the forefront of discussion within AMA Victoria and in our discussions with government today.
For more information on the history of AMA Victoria visit the Heritage and Archives Committee page or contact the Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org
George Bass, a surgeon in H.M.S. Reliance, is the first European doctor to set foot on what we now know as Victorian soil. A brass mural commemorating this event is located at AMA House in Parkville. George Bass accompanied Flinders when Tasmania was first circumnavigated, revealing that Van Diemen’s land was separated from the mainland.
Barry Cotter, an Irish doctor, delivers the first European baby to be born in Melbourne. Barry Cotter was one of Victoria’s earliest settlers. He became the community’s first doctor.
Melbourne’s second doctor – Alexander Thomas – arrives to take up the position of Government Medical Officer at a salary of 200 pounds per annum. He resigns a couple of months later to take up land near Geelong. He is replaced briefly by Dr Cotter, and then by a Sydney military surgeon, Dr Patrick Cussen.
The first public hospital is opened after a group of clergymen make a successful appeal for subscriptions. The 20-bed hospital was located in Melbourne’s Bourke Street, between Elizabeth and Swanston Streets. It also had an outpatients’ department. It was staffed by four doctors, Dr Wilkie (inaugural President of the Victorian Medical Association), Dr Thomas, Dr Myers and Dr O’Mullane, who worked on an honorary basis.
The first roll of legally qualified medical practitioners of the Port Phillip District of New South Wales contained the names of seven physicians and five surgeons.
On May 16, the first meeting of the Port Phillip Medical Association is held.
Dr David John Thomas was among the first in Australia to administer an anaesthetic, used in the amputation of a forearm.
The Association is dissolved after a series of quarrels between members.
The Victorian Medical Association is formed by some of the former members of the Port Phillip Medical Association. Dr David Wilkie, who had been active in the affairs of the Port Phillip Medical Association, was elected President. While some of the details of the Association’s constitution differed from the Port Phillip Medical Association, the principles were basically the same.
The Victorian Medical Association merges with the Medico-Chirurgical Society to become the Medical Society of Victoria. Steps are taken to publish The Australian Medical Journal. The Association also actively pushes for the registration of medical practitioners.
The first Medical Act is passed.
The first medical school is established at Melbourne University.
Dr Louis Henry returns from England with the authority from the British Medical Association (BMA) to establish Australian branches. On 25 September the Victorian Branch is established with 30 foundation members.
The first Intercolonial Medical Congress is held. It is the first time that doctors from around Australia assemble to discuss matters of mutual interest.
"Duly qualified medical women" are eligible as members of the Victorian branch of the british Medical Society
The Victorian Branch of the BMA and the Medical Society of Victoria amalgamate, largely through the influence of Harry B. Allen (later Sir Harry Allen), Professor of Pathology at the University of Melbourne.
The Federal Committee of the BMA is formed.
On 1 January the Australian Medical Association commenced operation. The Victorian branch of the British Medical Association became a branch of the AMA.
The Australian Medical Association Victoria Limited was incorporated