Our History

The Gold Coast Medical Association (GCMA) evolved from the South Coast Local Medical Association (SCLMA), which held its first meeting in 1949. At that time, there were less than 20 general practitioners operating in the region. The Foundation Members were: Dr Wallace (Wal) Mackay (elected interim President at the inaugural meeting on 24/2/49), Dr Ernest Culpin (elected foundation President at the first AGM on 29/9/49), Dr William Matthews (foundation Vice-President), Dr Thomas Gaven (elected interim Secretary and then foundation Treasurer), Dr Owen Lloyd (elected interim Treasurer and then foundation Secretary), Dr Rudolph Levy, Dr William Nette, Dr Albert Golden, Dr Doris Squire, Dr William Beet, Dr James Bogle, and Dr John Follent.

Initially affiliated with the Queensland Branch of the British Medical Association, the formation of the SCLMA was part of a State-wide push to get country and regional doctors more involved in BMA activities.

From the outset, the local members identified their aim as being “the promotion of the scientific,medico-political and medico-ethical interests of the members”. Underlying this philosophy was their desire to form “a bond of union between members of the medical profession …and a medium through which their opinions may be ascertained and expressed”.

In the very first year of its existence, the Association began campaigning in favour of a Pharmaceutical Benefits scheme, highlighted to the Branch the opportunity for a pathologist to establish locally, became involved in publicity and public relations concerning medical issues (presumably the national health schemes proposed at that time), and established a regular schedule of educational presentations for members.These activities set the Association’s agenda for the future. Its ongoing program of public campaigns, educational meetings, social events, awareness-raising activities and the championing of local medico-political causes generated strong growth in membership numbers.

 Throughout the Association’s 60-plus year history, it has faced a succession of significant issues and challenges, not the least of which include: Formation of the national health scheme, Pharmaceutical benefits contributory scheme, Provision of after-hours services, Casemix, Quality Assurance, Shortage of rural doctors and locums, Public waiting lists for surgery, Managed care, Bulk billing, The advent of the “super-clinics”, Punitive increases in indemnity premiums, Chronic under-funding of the Gold Coast Hospital, Proposed construction of a new hospital away from the Southport Medical Precinct, … and the list goes on.

Through all of these changes and challenges, and the various ups and downs within the Association itself, the GCMA has remained true to its original ideals and is still today the only organisation that represents the broad spectrum of medical services and specialties available in the region.

In line with the technologies now available, the GCMA website serves as another vital link between members, providing a convenient and immediate source of information about the services available in the local community.

Communication and Awareness

The GCMA disseminates regular press releases to local print, television and broadcast media in order to create public awareness of health matters and medico-political issues. The Association has been a leader in the field of community awareness and publicity campaigns since 1985, setting the standards for other local medical associations to follow.

In recent years, major campaigns instigated by the GCMA include the Gold Coast Hospital crisis,which resulted in a public rally attended by 2000 people, as well as public campaigns on youth suicide, menopause, bowel-scan awareness, palliative care, mental health first aid, a "Walk the Talk" campaign to highlight the exercise programs of its members and encouraging their patients to exercise, and an Organ Donation awareness campaign.

On 4 November 2000 the inaugural GCMA Health Expo brought together Gold Coast private health providers, institutions and related medical fraternities direct to the general public. “Good Health” seminars provided attendees with information on topics such as cancer prevention, dental health, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and women’s health. These Expo's have been held in subsequent years. In 2012, the event was held in conjunction with the Gold Coast Council's Women's Health and Wellbeing Expo that attracted large numbers over the two days.

The initial communication link between GCMA and local practitioners was MediLink. This publication was later expanded into a full colour magazine titled The Medical Link which is distributed to all local medical practitioners within the Gold Coast region. It is now in its 13th year of publication and keeps members informed of all association activities, new health services available in the local community, developments on National issues relevant to the medical profession and other items of more general interest.

Local and National Political Issues

Severe under-funding of the Gold Coast Hospital has been a cause championed by the GCMA since the hospital opened in 1960. In addition to securing major grants and funding allocations from time to time, the GCMA has served as a respected voice on other key issues such as: Fluoridation of local water supplies and Support for junior doctors at the Gold Coast Hospital.

On a national basis, the GCMA, through its close ties with the Queensland branch of the AMA, has provided frontline feedback on: Bulk billing; Government proposals to restrict provider numbers for graduates; Professional liability and insurance; HIV testing for pre-operative patients; Managed care; and Introduction of new advertising laws.

Over the years, the GCMA Committee has established and maintained regular lines of communication with local, State and national politicians, as well as various media representatives, and is regarded as the pre-eminent local authority on health and medically-related issues.

Fundraising and Sponsorship

While not a fundraising organisation, the GCMA has been inspired by the enthusiasm of individual members participating in Gold Coast marathons and Triathlons that have raised considerable funds for a host of local charities, including the Alcohol Rehabilitation Program, Lifeline, the Disabled Sport and Recreation Association and, in more recent years, the Gold Coast Care for Children Fund.

GCMA also sponsors awards for excellence in study by medical and nursing students at both Griffith and Bond Universities.

Medical Conferences

In 2009, the Gold Coast Medical Association combined with the Fiji Medical Association and the Fiji College of General Practitioners to present a medical conference in Fiji, strengthening ties between these associations.

In 2011, GCMA presented an inaugural Gold Coast Medical & Health Sciences Conference. In 2012, the two-day conference will be combined with the annual Griffith University Research conference.

Click here to view Members of the Gold Coast Medical Association Executive 1949 - 2013

(thanks to Dr Alistair Dick for the information from his publication "The Gold Coast Local Medical Association - The First Fifty Years")

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