100 Years of our Veterinary Community

We take a look at key milestones, achievements and events within our profession, Australia and the world!



  • The AVA holds its first meeting and elects its inaugural president, Professor JD Stewart. The object of the association (stated in the original meeting) is: “the promotion and advancement of veterinary science and allied sciences and the maintenance of the honour and the interest of the veterinary profession”. The AVA has 80 members.
  • The Waters (to-and-fro) absorption anaesthetic apparatus is introduced.
  • Edith Cowan becomes the first woman to be elected to an Australian parliament. 


  • Australia's first woman to qualify as a veterinarian with university training, Margaret Gwendoline Keats, is registered to practice. She becomes Australia’s first woman government-employed veterinarian.
  • The first AVA Conference is held.


  • Australia's first formally recognised female veterinarian, Belle Bruce Reid, retires.
  • The Veterinary Surgeons Act of NSW is established.
  • Rinderpest (cattle plague) outbreak – controlled within 64 days.


  • All Australian states now have their own veterinary laboratories to undertake diagnostic and research work.
  • Australia joins the OIE (The Office International des Epizooties – now known as the World Organisation for Animal Health). 
  • The first issue of the Journal of the Australian Veterinary Association, editor Max Henry is produced. It is circulated to 130 AVA members. 


  • The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) is created, with a Division of Animal Health established in 1928. This leads to national government planning, organisation and funding of livestock research. 


  • World population reaches 2 billion. 


  • Melbourne Veterinary School closes because it has only one student. 


  • The circle absorption anaesthetic system is introduced by Brian Sword. 
  • The first electron microscope is developed by Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska. 
  • The first Kendall Oration is given by WAN Robertson. 
  • Phar Lap wins the Melbourne Cup.


  • A business committee is established to manage the business affairs of the AVA.
  • The McMaster Laboratory is opened, headed by Ian Clunies Ross. Many advances were made by Clunies Ross and others in understanding the specific epidemiology and ecology of parasites causing gastroenteritis in sheep. 


  • The former state associations are granted affiliation with the new national AVA, as state divisions. They in turn form local branches.
  • Dr Rudolph Schindler invents the flexible gastroscope – a modified version of earlier rigid scopes.
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge opens.


  • The dry bobbin flow meter is introduced to anaesthetic machines.


  • AVA conference.


  • The AVA’s Coat of Arms is approved. Garnet is chosen as the official colour.
  • Veterinary Science is offered at the University of Queensland.


  • Australia enters the Second World War. 
  • Victoria is devastated by the Black Friday bushfires. 


  • The modern stethoscope is designed by Rappaport and Sprague.


  • Dr Douglas John, the AVA’s longest standing member, joins the AVA. 
  • Fellowship of the AVA is established.
  • Semi-purified penicillin is isolated and made useful for medicine by the work of Australian, Howard Walter Florey, and his group in Oxford.  


  • Pressured by an acute shortage of vets, the Tasmanian Chief Veterinary Officer introduces a Nationalised Veterinary Service (NVS) in Tasmania. The service encourages government vets to undertake clinical work as well as their department work.

1942 - 1943

  • A swine fever outbreak leads NSW Chief Veterinary Surgeon Max Henry to up a ‘Swine Fever Command’ before the laboratory results from dying pigs are even confirmed. Due to his rapid action and effective tracing, the outbreak is controlled within eight weeks.


  • Horse Transport Pack Unit carrying supplies and ammunition near Salamanca.


  • Australia becomes a founding member of the United Nations.
  • The Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race is held for the first time.


  • The first paid Administrative Officer is appointed to the AVA.


  • AVJ Volume 23, No. 1 


  • Holden starts manufacturing its first Australian designed and built car. 


  • An AVA Code of Ethics for professional behaviour is introduced.
  • The CSIR becomes the CSIRO. A veterinarian, Ian Clunies Ross, is appointed to lead not just the Animal Health Division, but the entire research organisation.
  • Australian inventor, Charles Rothauser creates the world's first plastic, disposable hypodermic syringe at his Adelaide factory. 


  • Estimated 150 million sheep in Australia.
  • Myxoma virus is released to control the wild rabbit population. It allows the recovery of Australia’s wool and meat production to the tune of $68 million.


  • Australia is declared free of scrapie and fowl typhoid.
  • The first effective polio vaccine is developed by Jonas Salk.


  • The Gilruth Prize is established – awarded for outstanding service in any field of veterinary science.


  • Ultrasound is used for clinical purposes for the first time.
  • Television in Australia is launched.


  • The CSIRO establishes an Exotic Disease Committee.


  • A National Committee for the Control and Eradication of pleuropneumonia is established. This leads to the successful eradication of contagious bovine pleuropneumonia in 1973.
  • World population reaches 3 billion.


  • David Littmann, a Harvard Medical School professor, creates a new stethoscope that is lighter than previous models and has improved acoustics.


  • The New South Wales (later the Australian) Veterinary Poultry Association is formed.


  • Australia is declared free of classical swine fever.


  • Martin Luther King delivers “I Have a Dream” speech.
  • US President John F. Kennedy is assassinated.


  • The first AVA Conference outside a capital city takes place in Alice Springs.


  • The Small Animal Clinicians Group is formed (now known as ASAV). 
  • The Veterinarians in Industry Group is recognised by the AVA. 
  • Courtesy title of Dr is first adopted for Veterinarians. 
  • The AVA presidential robes, consisting of cap and gown, are worn for the first time by President Bruce C Eastick.


  • The first in-person Council meeting where delegates travel from each division to Melbourne takes place – a milestone in AVA consensus planning.


  • The NSW Department of Agriculture establishes a virology laboratory.


  • The Brucellosis and Tuberculosis Eradication Campaign (BTEC) replaces voluntary state-based control programs. This coordinated national campaign leads to the elimination of brucellosis in 1989 and bovine tuberculosis in 1997. The huge undertaking involves many government and private vets, and before eradication is achieved around 27 million blood samples are tested at laboratories.


  • The AVA has 1647 members. 
  • The Australian College of Veterinary Scientists is established, providing post graduate recognition.
  • American scientist Raymond Damadian discovers that MRI can be used for medical diagnosis - cancer tumours emit different signals compared to healthy tissue.
  • The Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA) group is established with 27 members – inaugural President Dr John Bourke.
  • The first edition of the Australian Veterinary Practitioner is published.


  • CT is invented by British engineer Godfrey Hounsfield of EMI Laboratories, England and by South Africa-born physicist Allan Cormack of Tufts University, Massachusetts. 


  • The Australian Cattle Veterinarians (ACV) group is established.
  • The Small Animal Clinicians Group (now ASAV) becomes a ratified association within the AVA. The group holds its first conference at John Holt’s Veterinary Hospital in Sydney.
  • Australia is declared free of bovine pleuropneumonia. This disease had prevented live cattle exports for over 100 years.
  • The Sydney Opera House is formally opened by Queen Elizabeth II. 


  • The Bureau of Animal Health is created. It becomes Australia’s central coordinating body for veterinary matters and permits a national approach to disease epidemiology and control.  
  • Darwin is devastated by Cyclone Tracey.


  • The Australian Small Animal Veterinarians Association Hospital Accreditation Scheme is established.
  • The AVA Benevolent Fund is established.


  • First outbreak of the Ebola virus.
  • Australia is declared free of equine piroplasmosis.


  • Special Interest Groups are formalised within the overall structure of the AVA.
  • A fortnightly printed newsletter is produced for AVA members.
  • Damadian builds the first whole-body MRI scanner. 


  • The Australian Equine Veterinarian Journal is launched.
  • AVA Meritorious Service Awards are established.


  • Murdoch University offers Veterinary Science.
  • Equine Veterinarians Association’s annual conference becomes the Bain Fallon Memorial Lectures.
  • Koala wearing the AVA tie sits on the podium of the Palace of Congresses in the Kremlin in Moscow for the final session of the World Veterinary Association where Perth is selected as the site of the 1983 Congress.


  • The Australian Association of Pig Veterinarians is formed.
  • Australia is declared free of contagious equine metritis.


  • First female AVA President is elected, Helen M Jones.
  • Robert William ‘Bill’ Gee becomes the first Australian President of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). He is also the first person from the southern hemisphere to hold this position.


  • Enzootic bovine leukosis outbreak.


  • The Australian Government Department of Health transfers animal and plant quarantine functions to the Department of Primary Industry. Incorporating the Bureau of Animal Health, the new organisation is called the Australian Agricultural Health and Quarantine Service (AAHQS). 
  • The Australian Sheep Veterinarians Group is established.  
  • The Australian Greyhound Veterinarians group is established.


  • Group photo of all AVA Presidents from 1945-1985:
  • The AVP Student Prize is first awarded. 
  • The Australian Veterinary Acupuncture Group is established. The group holds its first conference in Melbourne.
  • The Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) is opened. This is Australia’s first high-biocontainment research facility and the first in the world to receive accreditation as an international Collaborative Centre for New and Emerging Diseases by the World Organisation for Animal Health.


  • The gender balance of veterinary students is 50:50. 
  • The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is established. 


  • World population reaches 5 billion.


  • Australia declared free from bovine brucellosis. 
  • The Northern Australia Quarantine Strategy (NAQS) is established. Government veterinarians continue to work with other highly trained staff to manage the unique biosecurity risks facing northern Australia.
  • Helen Scott-Orr is appointed the Chief Veterinary Officer of New South Wales, the first woman to hold a position of chief veterinary officer in Australia.
  • The Australian Companion Animal Health Foundation is formed. 


  • The first digital radiography system appears (the CCD slot-scan system). 
  • The AVA Hip Dysplasia Scheme is established. 
  • The Australian Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) is established, and holds its first annual conference in Melbourne.
  • The Australian Veterinary Conservation Biology group is formed.


  • The AVA joins with the New Zealand Veterinary Association for the first Pan Pacific Veterinary Conference in Sydney.
  • The Australian Association of Holistic Veterinarians is established.
  • The Australian Veterinary History Society is formed.


  • The Australian Embryo Transfer Society is established (later known as ARV).
  • The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (AVPMA) is established. 
  • The Australian Veterinary Dental Society starts to produce a quarterly newsletter.
  • A Members' Directory and Policy Compendium is created by CEO John Cornwall, making information about the AVA’s structure and policies available to members.


  • The last recorded case of Avian influenza in Australia. 
  • Hendra virus kills horse trainer Vic Rail as well as 20 horses in Hendra, Queensland.


  • The Animal Welfare Trust is formed.
  • The AVA Pets and People Education Program (PetPEP) is established. 


  • The AVA has 4272 members, 282 students.
  • ‘Dolly’ the sheep is cloned.
  • Dr Peter Doherty, once a government veterinarian, wins the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Rolf M. Zinkernagel.


  • Australia is declared free of Bovine tuberculosis. 
  • The new AVA centaur logo replaces the Coat of Arms. 


  • The Veterinary Surgeons Award is established – providing the first terms and conditions of employment specific to veterinarians.
  • The Australian Veterinary Practice Management Association (AVPMA) is established.
  • The International Veterinary Officers Coalition (IVOC) is established with AVA, BVA, AVMA and CVMA. 


  • The Joint Expert Technical Advisory Committee on Antibiotic Resistance (JETACAR) is founded. JETACAR comprised experts from veterinary medicine, human health and primary industry. It is tasked with assessing the scientific evidence of a link between the use of antibiotics in food-producing animals, the emergence and selection of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and their spread to humans, and to recommend future risk management strategies.
  • The Parkville Veterinary Research Institute opens.
  • The Australasian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC) is established.


  • Animal Health Australia (AHA) commenced operations. AHA is an independent not-for-profit dedicated to informing government and industry about national action required and delivering solutions that enhance, strengthen and protect animal health and the biosecurity system.


  • The AVA recruits Australian veterinarians to assist in the UK FMD outbreak.


  • The last reported case of Bovine tuberculosis.
  • The Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement (EADRA) is ratified. This is a world-first legally binding cost-sharing initiative between Australian governments and livestock industries that facilitates rapid responses to emergency animal disease incidents.


  • A photo of 'all' AVA presidents is taken:
  • The Unusual and Exotic Pets (now UPAV) and the Australian Veterinary Behaviour Special Interest Groups are established.


  • The first Unusual and Exotic Pets conference is held in Mona Vale, Sydney. 
  • The Pascoe Oration is launched at Bain Fallon to recognise the legendary EVA President, Professor Reg Pascoe.


  • The Companion Magazine (produced by the ASAV special interest group) is published for the first time.
  • Veterinary Science is offered at Charles Sturt University, with 45 enrolled students.


  • The first stand-alone Australian Pig Veterinarians Conference is held in Melbourne.
  • The AVA's 85th Anniversary: '85 Years of Advancing Veterinary Science'.
  • Veterinary Science commences at James Cook University with 72 places offered.  


  • Equine influenza outbreak and eradication. Outbreak declared 24th August and last infected premises declared 24th December.
  • The Australian Cattle Veterinarians group introduce BULLCHECK – a ‘gold standard’ of VBBSE (Veterinary Bull Breeding Soundness Evaluation).


  • Gender balance of veterinary students is 80:20 female:male.
  • Veterinary Science is offered at Adelaide University with 47 enrolments.
  • Dr Ben Cunneen and Dr Alister Rogers die from Hendra virus (2008-2009).


  • Black Saturday Bushfires sweep across Victoria, resulting in 173 fatalities.


  • Last reported case of anthrax in Australia.
  • West Nile virus (arbovirus neurological disease) is diagnosed in equines in Australia (2010-2011).


  • Dr Deborah Middleton and coworkers at CSIRO develop the Hendra vaccine. 
  • H7 Avian influenza outbreak.
  • Graeme Garner, a government veterinarian for 30 years, is awarded an Order of Australia for services to veterinary science, particularly in the field of veterinary epidemiology and the development and promotion of Australia’s animal health. He went on to be awarded the highest honour of the World Organisation for Animal Health, the OIE Gold Medal, in 2018.


  • Lyssavirus (bat- borne and rabies related) is first diagnosed in an equine.


  • The worst Ebola pandemic recorded in history occurs in West Africa.
  • The World Buiatrics Congress is held in Cairns, Queensland.
  • Equine Veterinarians Australia sue Racing NSW, in the NSW Supreme Court, over Racing NSW’s unilateral moves to license and regulate veterinarians working in racing.


  • The AVA has 6133 members, 2956 students.
  • The national AVA Graduate Mentoring program is launched.
  • Australia’s first National Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Strategy is released. The strategy is developed in partnership with industry and government to guide action by governments, veterinarians, health professionals, farmers and communities to reduce the emergence of resistant bacteria.


  • The Mental Health First Aid Course becomes available for AVA members.


  • The AVA Practice Management Group becomes the Veterinary Business Group.
  • The Australian Sheep Veterinarians Special Interest Group becomes the Sheep, Camelid and Goat Veterinarians Special Interest Group.
  • The Federation of Asian Small Animal Veterinary Associations (FASAVA) Congress is held on the Gold Coast, Queensland.


  • The Australian Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Mark Schipp is elected the 28th President of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).


  • The AVA Return to Work (RTW) program is established.
  • The 2019-2020 Australian bushfire season (known as ‘Black Summer’) brings some of the worst bushfires Australia has ever seen, burning over 18 million hectares of land. At least 3500 homes and thousands of other buildings are lost. 34 people die in the thousands of fires between September 2019 and March 2020.


  • The COVID-19 pandemic changes life as we know it – globally.
  • The AVA’s first exclusively online conference, 'VetFest', is held.
  • The Australian Veterinary Students Group (AVSG) is established. 
  • The AVA Employer of Choice (EOC) program is established.
  • The AVA Diploma of Leadership and Management is established.
  • The Coronavirus vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech is administered to the first patient in the United Kingdom.
  • Australia’s second National Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Strategy – 2020 and Beyond is released. The 2020 AMR Strategy represents the expert views and strong collaboration of stakeholders from across governments, and the animal and human health, environment, agricultural and food sectors.
  • A group of former Chief Veterinary Officers and senior government veterinarians from the Commonwealth and every Australian state and territory develop a position statement and strategy to pursue action on climate change.


  • The AVA has 8889 members (including 2400 student members).