125 Year Anniversary | AMA (WA)
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AMA (WA) 125th Anniversary

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This year the AMA (WA) celebrates its 125-year anniversary. The WA Medical Association was formed in 1898, and WA was accepted as a branch of the British Medical Association (BMA) the following year. It was 1962 before the BMA was replaced by the Australian Medical Association (AMA).  

While the AMA (WA) has grown and evolved over the years, our core business and foundations remain the same. Our primary work is to advocate for doctors and student doctors, to continually improve the working conditions of doctors, and engage doctors in policy making for a world-class health system. And we support doctors holistically with a range of dedicated business services in insurance, finance, education, medical products, recruitment and training.

We recognise that student doctors and doctors in training are our future, and they face unique challenges. While the expertise of our senior cohorts – private practice specialists, GPs, and public hospital doctors – help to push the organisation forward as a leading voice in medicine and healthcare.

This year, we reflect on how far the AMA (WA) has come while looking forward to how we can achieve new successes for our members, and for the medical industry. And, as always, we are Stronger Together.


The first official meeting to form a WA Medical Association was held on 5 August 1898, with a sub-committee created to progress affiliation with the British Medical Association. Dr Alfred Waylen was unanimously elected President.


At the WA Medical Association’s fourth general meeting on 7 April 1899, the Western Australian Branch of the British Medical Association was established.


Branch member Dr GF McWilliams (left) in the field during the South African War. He was the founder of the St John Ambulance Brigade in Western Australia.


Perth Children’s Hospital opened. The first three honorary consultants at the hospital had all been Presidents of the BMA WA – Dr Athelstan Saw in 1906, Dr W Trethowan in 1907 and Dr A.E. Officer in 1909.


The Spanish Flu influenza pandemic. Many of the regulations to limit the flu’s impact, including closure of the railway from the eastern states to Kalgoorlie and isolation measures, were the result of BMA WA President Dr Atkinson’s actions.


A BMA Medical Library was set up, initially at Perth Public Hospital after 20 years of deliberations and with funding from the BMA WA. 


The first formal WA BMA office was established at Shell House, St Georges Terrace, Perth.


BMA WA member Dr Andrew Clarke was the only Western Australian doctor to be killed in action during the Second World War. His photo is proudly displayed in the Council Room at the current AMA (WA) office, unveiled in 1995 by the Governor of Western Australia, and is a tribute to the only BMA WA member who died in action in WWII.


At the BMA congress held in Perth, a resolution is made to prioritise Aboriginal health and to impress upon State and Federal governments the urgency of the health aspects of Aboriginal people.


BMA WA purchase a building at 8 Kings Park Road, West Perth. It’s named BMA House (later AMA House) and remained as the home of the Association for more than 25 years.


The University of Western Australia medical school is opened by his Excellency Sir Charles Gairdner in Victoria Square on 10 April 1958 after persistent agitation, lobbying and fundraising by the BMA WA. 


The BMA WA annual prize is inaugurated, to be presented to the top medical student in WA. The first prize is awarded to Dr Charles Grenville Picton-Warlow.


The BMA Branches formally merge into the Australian Medical Association. Dr Dixie Clement was the last President of the BMA WA, and the first President of the Australian Medical Association (WA) Branch.


The first industrial agreement applying to all doctors by the teaching hospitals was developedMetropolitan Teaching Hospitals Salaries and Conditions of Service Agreement. 1975, Medical Superintendents and Clinical staffs. Nine years later, the AMA (WA) secured formal recognition to represent industrially medical practitioners employed in public hospitals. 


The new AMA House opens, a redevelopment of the site at 8 Kings Park Road, West Perth.


About 200 doctors from across Western Australia pack out a meeting to unanimously support a new method of describing GP services and to break away from the old time-tiered system.


Monthly journal Medicus is launched, replacing its predecessors the Monthly Bulletin and the Branch News. The following year Medicus won the inaugural Federal AMA award for Best Branch Publication.


The AMA (WA) purchases its new headquarters at Stirling Highway Nedlands, with the office officially opened by the Governor of Western Australia the following year.


The inaugural AMA (WA) Awards are established to acknowledge an individual who is notable in their field. The first AMA (WA) Award was presented to Professor Richard Joske in his role as ‘teacher of doctors’.


The AMA (WA) Foundation is launched, a benevolent institution ‘representing the medical profession on the pursuit of humanitarian excellence in our community’. Officially launching the Foundation was the Archbishop of Perth, the Most Reverend Dr Peter Carnley.


The AMA (WA) elects its first female President, Dr Rosanna Capolingua.


The AMA (WA) calls for a euthanasia debate, led by President Dr Simon Towler.


The AMA (WA) was instrumental in brokering a deal for more medical training places, with 40 more student places each at the University of Western Australia and the University of Notre Dame.


The first Hospital Health Check survey of junior doctors is launched. The Hospital Health Check goes on to become a leading advocacy tool to improve conditions for junior doctors.


As COVID-19 emerges in Australia, AMA (WA) takes a leading role in the crisis.


Following some of the highest ambulance ramping rates ever recorded, the AMA (WA) hosts an Emergency Care Summit with the WA Health and Mental Health Ministers and major stakeholders – the first of its kind in Western Australia. The Summit is continued the following year.


The inaugural MEDCON inter-college medical conference is launched. The conference brings together doctors from all specialties and career stages and becomes Australia’s premier national medical conference.


The AMA (WA) responds to Continuing Professional Development (CPD) changes implemented by the Medical Board of Australia and launches a CPD Home service for doctors to manage their self-education – the only non-college to successfully do so.