The Australian Respiratory Council has a long and proud place in the history of public health in NSW. Founded before World War I as the, National Association for the Prevention and Cure of Consumption, it opened the first anti-tuberculosis dispensary in Australia in September 1912.
Over the years the name was changed to reflect the changing mission of the organisation. In the early 1930s it became The Anti-Tuberculosis Association of New South Wales. The name was changed to Community Health and Anti-Tuberculosis Association in 1973. In mid-2001 the name was again changed to Community Health and Tuberculosis Australia (CHATA) reflecting the associations refocus on respiratory disease in the international context, with particular interest the Western Pacific Region.
After lengthy consideration, the association became known as the Australian Respiratory Council (ARC) in 2006, broadening its focus to incorporate the spectrum of respiratory disease, with particular interest in those diseases affecting the socially and economically disadvantaged communities.
In the 1940s, CHATA, began using mobile chest x-ray units for the detection of TB throughout NSW. By the 1950s there were eight mobile units taking 500,000 chest x-rays annually in NSW and other parts of Australia. Over the next twenty years, CHATA operated a state-of-the-art TB research and diagnostic institute in Sydney and was invited to provide technical assistance and TB detection service in several Asia Pacific countries.
From 1981, when the government took on the responsibility of mass TB screenings CHATA continued to serve the community through a mobile general screening service. In the early 1990s CHATA consolidated its role in the support of research grants and scholarships in the area of TB and other respiratory diseases. This research funding continues today with the Harry Windsor Research Grant Scheme and the Ann Woolcock Fellowship. ARC’s early years of providing technical assistance to build capacity relating to TB in the Asia Pacific Region has been expanded and is a major focus of program development work today.
For a brief outline of our history, click here to read A Century of Service.
For a more in depth history of ARC/CHATA and TB in Australia click here for information on Peter J Tyler’s book, No Charge No Undressing.