100 Years of our Veterinary Community

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


100 years of advancing veterinary science, the health and welfare of animals, disease prevention and veterinary services. 


  • The AVA holds its first meeting and elects its inaugural president, Professor JD Stuart.
    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. 


  • The first AVA Conference is held.
  • 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 Veterinary Surgeons Act of NSW is established.

  • Australia’s first formally recognised female veterinarian, Bell Bruce Reid, retires.
  • Rinderpest (cattle plague) outbreak – controlled within 64 days.
  • Construction begins on the Sydney Harbour Bridge.


  • 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. 
  • All Australian states now have their own veterinary laboratories to undertake diagnostic and research work.


  • 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 first Kendall Oration is given by WAN Robertson. 
  • The circle absorption anaesthetic system is introduced by Brian Sword. 
  • The first electron microscope is developed by Max Knoll and Ernst Ruska. 
  • 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.
  • Sydney Harbour Bridge opens.
  • Dr Rudolph Schindler invents the flexible gastroscope – a modified version of earlier rigid scopes.


  • 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. 


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


  • 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.
  • Australian inventor, Charles Rothauser creates the world's first plastic, disposable hypodermic syringe at his Adelaide factory. 
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • Prime Minister Harold Holt disappears whilst swimming at Cheviot Beach, Victoria.


  • 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 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.
  • The Australian College of Veterinary Scientists is established, providing post graduate recognition. 
  • The AVA has 1647 members. 
  • American scientist Raymond Damadian discovers that MRI can be used for medical diagnosis - cancer tumours emit different signals compared to healthy tissue.


  • 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.


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


  • 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 Sheep Veterinarians Group is established.  
  • The Australian Greyhound Veterinarians group is established.
  • 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). 


  • 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.


  • 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. 
  • 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.


  • Dr Peter Doherty, once a government veterinarian, wins the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Rolf M. Zinkernagel


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


The Veterinary Surgeons Award is established – providing the first terms and conditions of employment specific to veterinarians. 


  • The Australian Veterinary Boards Council (AVBC) is established. 


  • AVA assists to recruit Australian veterinarians to assist in the UK FMD outbreak.


  • Dr Deborah Middleton and coworkers at CSIRO develop the Hendra vaccine. 


  • The national AVA Graduate Mentoring program is launched.


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


  • The COVID-19 pandemic changes life as we know it – globally.
  • AVA’s first exclusively online conference – VetFest is held.


  • The AVA has 8793 members (including 2400 student members).