|College History - Page 2|
Page 2 of 3
Throughout the 1950s, with the introduction of linear accelerators and the increasing uses of radionuclides, the need for in-house hospital physics expertise assumed much greater importance and numbers grew. There was some increase in communication between us as we realized we were all facing similar problems.
(Without going into unnecessary detail, for this account is about the Journal, the situation in biomedical engineering was not too dissimilar. There had long been engineers in hospitals of course and there were university engineering academics who advised hospitals in various problems of a biomedical engineering character, but the appointment of specific biomedical engineers to hospitals was similarly slow.)
Early in 1959 I wrote to all the physicists working in this field in Australia and New Zealand, of whom I had knowledge, including those at Australian CXRL and New Zealand DXRL, asking them to advise me of any others not on my list, and requesting each to indicate main areas of interest. The result was a total of about sixty names, and in December 1959 I issued to all sixty the Australasian Newsletter of Medical Physics No.1 which just listed the names and locations of the individuals and their areas of interest, so at least we knew about one another.
Giving the Newsletter a numeral No.1 implied there would be further issues and the invitation was extended to all recipients to write brief accounts of work in progress, investigations in progress or completed, and references to any published work. And so began the long road to the Journal APESM.
Evolutionary progress was slow. We had no formal organization. The Newsletter was an important Australas. Phys. Eng. Sci. Med. Vol. 30, No 1,2007 communication link particularly because of the great distances between capital cities and the rare opportunities for official travel. The Newsletters were published quarterly in cyclostyled format on foolscap, the whole enterprise being funded, including secretarial assistance, by the Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute, whose support was gratefully acknowledged.
The need for a basic organization was explored by correspondence and at the Annual Conference of the College of Radiologists late in 1960, in Sydney, nine physicists met, carrying the opinions of forty, to discuss forming some form of Association. It reflects on the level of in-house support for travel that of the nine only three were from States other than NSW and none was from New Zealand.
A history of the formation of the Associations leading eventually to the establishment of the College has been well documented by David M. Kershaw (1998) and need not be laboured here. Kershaw well captures the difficulties experienced in trying to find a uniting identity for the varied interests, not helped by the inability to have face to face discussions (this was a time before videoconferencing).