General Practitioners   of Australia

connecting GPs across this vast land
The Australian Medical Association

     "The Australian Medical Association (AMA) is the most influential membership organisation representing registered medical practitioners and medical students of Australia"1.

    The AMA had its distant origins back in England, when the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association was founded in 1832 in Worcestershire. This had been set up to
  • unite and represent medical practitioners (physicians and surgeons and other medical practioners)
  • defend their interests from the charlatans of the day (blood-letters, barbers, apothecaries, etc)
  • establish medical ethics for the medical profession
  • raise the standards of medical practice
  • encourage medical research
  • restore balance by taking focus away from the major cities (London, Edinburgh, Glascow)
Some of the early achievemnts included petitioning the government to form the General Medical Council and the Medical Register and requiring certain standards by law for practitioners. They had championed the causes of public health in matters such as sanitaion, bringing great improvements to the health of the country. They helped change the medical education for doctors, nurses and midwives.

In 1856 the Provincial Medical and Surgical Association expanded its focus and took the title of the British Medical Association. This title had been used by a former group which had disbanded. The aim of the BMA is "to promote the medical and allied sciences, and to maintain the honour and interests of the medical profession".

In colonial Australia, some of the doctors were members of the BMA. It was some time before doctors organised themselves to form the AMA. Various local groups formed such as

  • Medico-Chirurgical Association of Australia 1844
  • Port Phillip Medical Association (PPMA) 1846-1851
  • Victoria Medical Association (VMA) 1851
  • Medical-Chirurgical Association of Victoria 1852
  • Castlemaine Medical Association 1853
  • Mt Alexander Medical Association 1854
  • Bendigo District Medical Association 1854
  • Ballarat Medical-Chirurgical Society 1855
  • Medical Association of Victoria (MAV) 1868
  • Victorian branch of the BMA 1906
  • Australian Philosophical Society, later the Philosophical Society of New South Wales and later still the Royal Society of New South Wales
  • Queensland Medical Society (QMS) 1871
  • South Australian branch of the BMA
  • South Australian Medical Association 1872-1881
  • NSW branch of the BMA 1880
  • SA branch of the BMA 1880
  • Medical Society of Queensland (MSQ) 1882
  • Queensland Medico-Ethical Association
  • Queensland branch of the BMA 1894
  • Launceston sub-branch of the Victorian branch of the BMA
  • South Australian Medical Association lasted 5 years
  • WA branch of the BMA 1911
  • Tas branch of the BMA
  • Federal Committee of the BMA 1912
The beginnings of the AMA were in 1858 when a series of meetings were held. A code of ethics based on the Americal Medical Association was accepted and the Association was formed. Although there was a promising start, numbers fell and the Assocaition was wound up in 1868. In 1912 the BMA agreed to the formation of the Australian branch of the BMA. It formed an Australian Council in 1933. This Council had the power to act on behalf of all the state groups. Some state groups did not totally give up their full powers, making it difficult for the Council to act infdependently. The need to run some decisions past the BMA (in England) also slowed processes down. In 1937 it was decided to look at forming an independent national organisation. It was 1962 when the AMA was finally registered.

Stated Aims
     "The AMA exists to promote and protect the professional interests of doctors and the health care needs of patients and communities"1.

Relationship with General Practice
    The AMA's stated aims relate to all Australian doctors and membership is open to all members of the medical community. This works well for general practitioners where there is a common goal and the AMA has been a strong advocate in many issues over its short (50+ year) life. There have been a small number of occasions where there has been a difference between what specialists want and what GPs have wanted.

When time permits, a list of issues for which the AMA has advocated for general practice will be added below.


1. About the AMA, AMA's website, accesd 13/3/2016

Nagle, D., Sena-Becke, T. (Ed.), More Than just a Union - A History of the AMA, undated, accessed 13/3/2016