Australian Respiratory Council

History of ARC

The Australian Respiratory Council has a long and distinguished place in the history of public health in NSW. Founded before World War 1 as the, National Association for the Prevention and Cure of Consumption, it opened the first tuberculosis treatment dispensary in Australia in September 1912.

Over the years the name of the association has changed to reflect the evolving mission and work of the organisation. The names of the organisation over time have been: The Anti-Tuberculosis Association of New South Wales (1930s); the Community Health and Anti-Tuberculosis Association (1970s) and the Community Health and Tuberculosis Australia (1980s) reflecting the associations refocus on respiratory disease in the international context, with particular interest the Indo-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, the organisation 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, the organisation operated a state-of-the-art TB research and diagnostic institute in Sydney and were invited to provide technical assistance and TB detection service in several Asia Pacific countries.

From 1981, when the government took over the responsibility of mass TB screenings the organisation continued to serve the community through a mobile general screening service. In the early 1990s ARC consolidated its role in the support of research grants and scholarships in the area of TB and other respiratory diseases.

Research funding continues today through the ARC Research Support Grants. ARC’s early years of providing technical assistance to build capacity relating to TB in the region has been expanded and is a major focus of the project work today. The work and achievements of the organisation are detailed in the annual reports published online. For an 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 list on the Resources page.