The inaugural meeting of a group of “isolated paediatricians” occurred in May 1981 at the Australian College of Paediatrics (ACP) Annual Scientific Meeting in Canberra. The isolated paediatricians were the pioneers of specialist paediatric services in rural Australia and recognized their shared education and social needs.
This informal group met each year at the ACP Annual Scientific Meeting and soon created a special Isolated Paediatrics Group educational meeting.
In the early 1990s an Executive formed and the Australian College of Paediatrics invited the Isolated Paediatricians Group to become the Regional Paediatricians Group (RPG) with a formal affiliation with the Australian College of Paediatrics.
The RPG grew in numbers as more regional paediatricians began serving rural and regional Australia. A web page was developed on the RACP website and a regular satellite educational day and formal dinner were incorporated into the APS Annual Scientific Meeting.
In 1997 following several requests from metropolitan general paediatricians who considered they had similar educational and social needs, the group expanded to include those metropolitan paediatricians and became the Regional and General Paediatric Society (RGPS).
In 2001 following amalgamation of the Australian College of Paediatrics with the RACP the RGPS became a Special Interest Group of the Paediatrics & Child Health Division of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians. The RGPS had committee representation on the Divisional Committee, Annual Scientific Program Committee, Paediatric Policy Committee, Specialist Advisory Committee-General Paediatrics and Rural Workforce Committee.
The RGPS activities included advocating for general paediatrics, political lobbying for general paediatricians and representing rural paediatrics through membership of the National Rural Health Alliance.
In 2008 the RGPS developed a vision to expand into a body that encompassed a broad cross section of health professionals with interest in child health, similar to the New Zealand Paediatric Society. The RGPS became the Australian Paediatric Society with rural and metropolitan divisions and not only represented child health but also the speciality of general paediatrics. Although there was some interest from members and some interest from within the RACP Division of Paediatrics, the concept did not progress because of lack of resources. The attempts to develop such a society were left to too few, and the executive began to feel the APS was losing its core reason for existence – to represent the issues arising in rural child health at a crucial time with workforce, training and other issues becoming more prominent.
Hence in 2011, the APS has gone back to our strength – representing rural child health while supporting and welcoming those paediatricians in suburban areas that see their educational, social and advocacy needs aligned to those of the regional paediatrician.