The following detailed history of ARPS has been taken from ARPS Journal: Radiation Protection in Australasia Volume 30 No 1 and was written by Ronald Rosen.

ABSTRACT

The origins of the Australasian Radiation Protection Society (ARPS) can be traced to two separate phenomena, which began in the early 1950s. One was the gradual increase in the differing uses of ionising radiation. The other was the increasing knowledge of the interaction of ionising radiation with living tissue. Recognition of the consequent need to improve radiation protection led to the development of legislation and the successive appointments of part-time radiation protection personnel, predominantly in larger institutions.

The University of New South Wales (UNSW) was the first Australasian university to establish a full-time position of radiation protection officer, to which the author was appointed in 1961. Over the next few years similar appointments were made elsewhere. The author was aware of the need to bridge the communication gap that existed among his peers, and between them and their overseas counterparts.

In 1973 during a tour of duty in Britain he attended a meeting of the Association of University Radiation Protection Officers. Impressed by that event, on his return he contacted his Australian university colleagues. With their encouragement in 1974 he convened a meeting at UNSW at which the Campus Radiation Protection Officers Group was formed. The Group prospered, and increasing interest was expressed by non-university radiation protection personnel. The Committee agreed to make its forthcoming AGM open to all persons interested in radiation protection. Thus at that Meeting, on 13 May 1975, the Australian Radiation Protection Society was formed, a constitution adopted and a committee elected.

Initially the Committee established a newsletter, publicised the formation of the Society, assessed applications for the different grades of membership, and planned the first AGM. Pursuing each need of the developing Society was demanding but exciting. Initial national items of interest to members were the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry and the proposed introduction of metric units for radiological quantities.

The Society gained international status in 1977 when it became the Australian associate society of the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA). Later it incorporated New Zealand membership, thus becoming Australasian.

Foremost among the Society’s highlights was the hosting of the 1988 IRPA International Congress in Sydney, with consecutive ICRP and IAEA events. Other highlights include the introduction of a system of accreditation in radiation protection; the gradual upgrade of the quality of the Society’s publications; and the extensive educational and professional benefits derived by members and others from the Society’s annual conferences.

Over the years the Society has expanded its activities and grown in status. Its success is due to the enthusiasm and work of its committees and the support of members.

The Oration opens with a tribute to Boyce Worthley. It closes positively in the belief that ARPS merits a bright future.

PROLOGUE

The first formal presentation on the morning after a Conference dinner is a daunting task for members of the audience and for me. But this is a team effort. Your task is to listen. My task is to present the Oration. If you finish before me, just wait for me to catch up. You will know we are approaching the end when you hear mention of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I thank the Conference Organising Committee for inviting me to present The 2012 Boyce Worthley Oration.

BOYCE WORTHLEY

The Australasian Radiation Protection Society, to indicate its maturity, decided in 2003 to inaugurate a series of annual orations. In so doing, it chose to honour the memory of the late Boyce Wilson Worthley, of Adelaide, who lived from 1917 to 1987. I had the privilege of meeting him on several occasions, and discussing technical and professional matters with him. I was fascinated by his technical competence, his flair for mathematics, his worldly knowledge, and his ability to acknowledge an alternate point of view. He had an outstanding academic record; was one of the early radiological physicists of South Australia, and was one of Australia’s most respected hospital physicists. His scientific work was summarised by R.M. Fry in the first of these Orations. Boyce had many duties, of which radiation protection was only one. Underlying his technical, professional and leadership achievements were his personal characteristics. He was a sincere man, acutely aware of his responsibility, and anxious to use his skills for the wellbeing of other people. He had a deep sense of purpose, and brought good humour to his personal relationships. He was independent in his views and modest about his accomplishments. Persons who are today engaged in radiation protection admire those excellent attributes.

RETROSPECTION

Historically the following narrative brings together a record of the significant events and decisions which laid the foundations for this Society, and which established guidelines that have influenced its subsequent development. So how did this Society begin, and gradually accumulate a history? The founders of this Society, in their various occupations, applied the principles and practices of radiation protection to the then current and evolving uses of ionising radiation. So our Society can be seen to have originated in the shared interests of its founders in radiation protection.

The literature indicates that by the early 1950s the variety of uses of radioactive sources and x-ray equipment was beginning to increase significantly. Likewise, as described by P.A. Burns in the 2011 Oration, at about that same time there was a significant increase in the understanding of the mechanism of the interaction by which ionising radiation reacts with living tissue.

By the late 1950s, radio-isotopes were being used increasingly as tracers in research; for equipment control in industry; and for diagnosis and therapy in clinical medicine. Industrial radiography was burgeoning; supervoltage radiotherapy plants were being introduced; the design of clinical x-ray facilities was being improved; analytical x-ray equipment and techniques were becoming more sophisticated; and Australia was found to be endowed with rich deposits of radioactive ores. Radiation control legislation was slowly being adopted by the States and Territories; and codes of safe practice were becoming available.

In many institutions, radiation protection was then conducted on a part-time basis, by practitioners whose major role was in some other field.

CAMPUS RPO GROUP

Universities were at the forefront of new developments. The University of New South Wales was the first to realise the benefits of appointing its own full-time radiation protection officer. In 1961 this speaker was appointed to that position. The campus radiation protection program developed there was viewed favourably by other universities, and several years later similar appointments were made, notably of F.P.J. Robotham at the University of Melbourne; T.N. Tan at Monash University; L Munslow-Davies at the University of Western Australia; and D.F. Robertson at the University of Queensland.

Although these colleagues corresponded with one another, and interacted with other health physicists, the author was aware of the professional isolation which university radiation protection officers experienced in Australia. He was keen to know how overseas colleagues dealt with problems encountered in tertiary educational establishments.

 

In 1973, with the support of my University, I undertook a tour of duty in Britain, including attendance at the Annual Conference of the Association of University Radiation Protection Officers, and visits to fourteen selected universities. I was warmly welcomed at the Conference, where there was ready interchange of technical information, and I was impressed by the extent of mutual friendships among the members. At the university visits I learned of their individual radiation protection programs, their instrumentation and their technical facilities.

On my return to Australia, the views of colleagues were canvassed, and all of them strongly supported the idea of holding a meeting “where we could meet each other, compare notes and talk over any problems we might have in common”. Accordingly an inaugural meeting of Australian university radiation protection officers was convened at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, on 21 May, 1974. It was attended by 21 persons representing every Australian State. The program incorporated 11 technical presentations, and included a discussion of the future role of the group. An interim committee comprising Rosen (Chairman), Robotham (Secretary) and Robertson were elected to guide the activities of the group.

The Minutes of that meeting stat:

“Encouraged by the success of the meeting and the interest shown by twenty–three parent organisations, the radiation protection officers tentatively decided to meet again in a year’s time in Melbourne. In the interim delegates were to keep in touch by means of a periodic newsletter.”

In June 1974 Robotham issued a newsletter entitled Australian Radiation Protection Epistle, copies of which, as he later thought, would rapidly became collector’s items.

Meanwhile radiation protection officers in other employment expressed interest in joining the Campus group. However, because of the special financial support given by a host university, and travel assistance given by individual universities to their officers, it was not permissible to accept the other radiation protection personnel into the group. The interim Committee recognised the need for a more broadly based group, and accordingly the views of the Campus Group members were sought. I wrote:

“It appears to me that the role of achieving cooperation among radiation protection officers could best be fulfilled by a national radiation protection society, which could also serve other worthwhile purposes in the scientific and lay community. Because of the relatively small number of practising health physicists in Australia, and the large distances separating them, it is unlikely that present numbers would be sufficient to support two separate and independent viable radiation protection societies. Having taken the lead in radiation protection matters, the existing Campus Group should continue its initiative and seek to form a national radiation protection society.”

During this period Boyce Worthley was consulted as to the likely success of a combined group. In his forthright manner, he replied: “You’ll just have to suck it and see”.

ESTABLISHMENT OF ARPS

Accordingly it was decided to make the forthcoming Melbourne meeting “open to anyone working or interested in the field of radiation protection”. The meeting, convened by F.P.J. Robotham, was held at the University of Melbourne on 12 and 13 May 1975. The program included ten scientific presentations and a technical visit. In the Business Session, the major item was a discussion of suitable alternatives for the form of a society of Radiation Protection Officers, and the possible timetable for any subsequent action. Extensive discussion ensued, including the unanimous adoption of the following two motions.

“Some form of national Radiation Protection Group be established.”

“An independent Radiation Protection Society be formed.”

Copies of a draft constitution were distributed and considered in detail. It was not possible to complete examination of the draft within the allotted time span. The meeting was adjourned and reconvened on 13 May 1975. The Minutes recorded the establishment of the Australian Radiation Protection Society as follows.

“... it was proposed by Mr G. Thomson that the draft constitution as amended be adopted as the Constitution of the Society. This motion was seconded by Dr Robertson and was carried unanimously. Thus the Australian Radiation Protection Society was formed, and those 29 persons listed in these Minutes as present at the meeting are Foundation Members of the Society in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution”.

That list of Foundation Members is presented here:

  • Dr R Rosen University of NSW, Acting Chairman
  • Mr FPJ Robotham University of Melbourne, Acting Secretary
  • Mr LB Arkles Repatriation General Hospital, Heidelberg
  • Dr IF Bubb Caulfi eld Institute of Technology
  • Mr JCE Button Australian Atomic Energy Commission
  • Mr P Cardew Radiation Branch, NSW Health Commission
  • Mr JE Cook Australian Atomic Energy Commission
  • Mr W Cornelius Australian Radiation Laboratory
  • Mr L Munslow-Davies WA State X-Ray Laboratory
  • Mr RM Fry Australian Atomic Energy Commission
  • Dr D Gebbie Australian National University
  • Mr PA Gungnaird Royal Melbourne Hospital
  • Mrs HS Goodman CSIRO Atmospheric Physics
  • Dr D Kairaitis NSW Institute of Technology
  • Mr EJ Kearley Victorian Industrial Hygiene Division
  • Prof N Kennon University of Wollongong
  • Mr G Kerrigan WA Institute of Technology
  • Mr B King WA State X-Ray Laboratory
  • Mr V Leach Australian Radiation Laboratory
  • Mr IS Leith Australian Radiation Laboratory
  • Dr PJ Mathew CSIRO Mineral Physics
  • Mr JM McGilvray Queensland Institute of Technology
  • Mr C Maxwell CSIRO Animal Physiology
  • Mr A Melbourne Victorian Industrial Hygiene Division
  • Dr AA Noujaim University of Alberta, Canada
  • Dr DF Robertson University of Queensland
  • Mr T Tan Monash University
  • Mr GA Thomson Gordon Institute of Technology
  • Dr J Westphalen South Australian Institute of Technology

The persons listed below were elected to the Foundation Committee. These names, and those to be mentioned later, are included here, firstly as a token of appreciation of the effort they devoted to the Society, and secondly so that any reader might recall them.

President: R. Rosen
Vice-President: J.C.E. Button
Secretary:  F.P.J. Robotham
Treasurer: T.N. Tan
Members:  I.F. Bubb

H.S. Goodman

I.S. Leith

L. Munslow-Davies

D.F. Robertson

The tasks of the Committee, enthused by members at the Foundation Meeting, were to introduce the activities of the Society, and formulate the procedures by which they were to be implemented. Foremost among these was the need to bridge the gap in communication between the Committee and the members. F.P.J. Robotham was appointed as the Newsletter Editor, and notice of the formation of the Society was submitted to eight Australian and two overseas journals. He published the first Newsletter of the Australian Radiation Protection Society in June 1975, comprising eight A4 pages. Its stated purpose was “to help people working in the field of radiation protection to keep in touch with one another”.

To bridge the gap in information among the members, and between them and others in the radiation protection world, Rosen and Button had agreed to convene the Society’s first conference in Sydney in 1976. Rosen felt obliged to investigate the suggested possibility of holding it in conjunction with a Congress of the Australian Institute of Physics. The unanimous decision of the Committee members however was that the new Society should show its independence and convene its own conference.

THE EARLY YEARS

The members of the Committee were widely dispersed (Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne), so it was difficult to achieve a committee quorum. Consequently much of the business was conducted by correspondence. These were exciting times for the Committee Members, having to pursue matters well outside their normal occupational ambit. For me, an unusual item was writing to the Deputy Commissioner of Taxation, requesting income tax deductibility for subscriptions to the Society. His positive response was welcome.

The first meeting of the Committee was held on 21 October 1975. The business transacted included the election of five Members and one Associate Member. The Committee resolved that future applicants would need to provide further professional information to enable their grade of membership to be appropriately determined. The Treasurer reported a credit balance of $46. 63, and was authorised to open a Society bank account. Mr D.W .Taylor of Monash University was appointed as the Society’s first Auditor. The Newsletter Editor was asked to write again to the Melbourne conference presenters requesting their papers for publication. The Vice President reported on favourable progress on possible affiliation with the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA).

The Society’s first conference was held at the University of New South Wales on 10-12 May, 1976, and was attended by 68 participants. In the 12 technical sessions, 24 scientific papers were presented, covering the following wide range of topics:

    • Safety in the nuclear industry;
    • uranium and mineral sand mining;
    • radiation safety legislation;
    • accident experience;
    • medical and industrial uses of radiation;
    • radiation dosimetry;
    • radioactive waste disposal;
    • instrumentation;
    • fallout;
    • non-ionising radiation.

      The keynote address was delivered by Professor J. Tadmor (Israel) on the topic “Risk and Safety in the Nuclear Industry and Conventional Norms of Society”. This paper evoked a report in the Sydney Morning Herald on 11May, provocatively headlined “How Much is a Human Life Worth to the World?” The Society thus gained unexpected publicity which was to be of political concern at the imminent Annual General Meeting. A summary of the scientific program was published later that year. Although the full proceedings of the Conference were tape recorded, the effort involved in transcribing the papers and discussion far exceeded the expectations of the organisers, and the proceedings were not published until September 1978.

      Committee Meeting No.2 was held in conjunction with the Conference. The records show that by that time, the Committee agendas were becoming fairly standard, comprising mainly items previously identified. One additional item was the requirement, prior to each annual general candidates for each of the office bearer positions. For operational convenience, it was important to ensure that there would be at least a quorum of committee members in one city. Meetings of the Committee were held as the need arose, and especially whenever there was an opportunity for interstate members to participate. At least one such meeting was held at each annual conference. In those days, there were no mobile phones, email, telephone or television conferencing, and no iPhones.

      On the first evening of the Conference registrants enjoyed a delectable buffet dinner in a private home sponsored by the Australia–Israel Scientific Exchange Scheme. The formal Conference Dinner was held on the following evening. To minimise conference labour costs, the families of the two convenors assisted with registrations, served refreshments, and attended to other duties. This arrangement became a feature of other early conferences.

      At the Society’s first Annual General Meeting held on 11 May 1976, the President reported that during the year the Ranger Uranium Environmental Inquiry had utilised much expertise provided by some members in a variety of roles. The Society itself however had remained politically independent. He also advised that the Society gained its first official external recognition when he was invited to be its representative on the Metric Conversion Board‘s “Panel on Units for Ionising Radiation”. This topic was to become of continuing interest to the members. The Secretary, F.P.J. Robotham, reported that the past year had been one of consolidation and quiet progress for the Society. As Newsletter Editor he also reported that Issue No.2 was still awaiting some Papers which had been presented at the Melbourne Foundation Meeting. Following the presentation of the Treasurer’s Report by T.N. Tan, the members agreed to new annual subscription rates of $10.00 for Members and $6.00 for Associate Members. Vice President Button commented on the success of the scientific program of the present conference, for which most papers had been obtained by invitation. At the Committee Election, Robotham and Goodman retired. T.N. Tan became Secretary, and I.F. Bubb became Treasurer. A.P. Cardew and M.W Carter joined the Committee. Mr Button was appointed as Editor of the Newsletter.

      Vice President Button reported on his correspondence with the President of IRPA regarding possible affiliation of the Society with IRPA. After discussion the members unanimously agreed to seek such affiliation.

      Members also expressed concern about the aforementioned article that had appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald, and its inference that the Society was in favour of nuclear power. The President was asked to write a “Letter to the Editor” refuting that implication. That letter was published in that paper on 27 May 1976.

      The President reported that the Metric Conversion Board proposed to recommend that new S.I. units for radiation quantities be officially adopted in Australia on 1 January 1978. After much discussion the Society agreed to endorse the proposal. Also at that meeting, the Committee agreed to investigate the suggestion made by A.W. Fleischmann that local meetings might be held to supplement the Society’s annual conferences.

      CONTINUING GROWTH

      The Society continued to develop. In 1977 a permanent external Secretariat was established, and it continues to provide excellent service.

      The first day of February 1977 was momentous and memorable, when advice was received that our Society had been accepted as an Affiliate Society of IRPA. That was a major milestone in the history of our Society, because that acceptance recognised that the levels of competence required for membership met international standards. Consequently the professional standing of our members was equal to that set by other national societies. Furthermore this Society became the sole internationally recognised professional radiation protection organisation in Australia, and also entitling this Society to be represented by delegates at each General Assembly of IRPA. We have been represented since on various committees of IRPA, receiving newsletters and correspondence from IRPA and its affiliates.

      On 16-18 May 1977, the Second Annual Conference, convened by T.N. Tan, was held at Monash University, Melbourne. It attracted 60 attendees, and incorporated a successful public forum on the then contentious issue of the mining and export of uranium. This conference also established the tradition of including a trade exhibition of radiation instrumentation. At the Annual General Meeting the President (R. Rosen) said that resulting from affiliation with IRPA, the names of the Society’s members would be included in the IRPA Membership Handbook. He reported that at the Fourth International Congress of IRPA, this Society had been represented by three delegates, B, King, A. Halm and S. George. Halm and King were this Society’s nominees respectively on the IRPA Rules and Nominating Committees. The Secretary (T.N. Tan) reported a year of remarkable growth, with the election of 16 new Members and 6 Associate Members. The Treasurer (I.F. Bubb) tabled the audited Financial Statement which showed a credit balance of $373.00. The Newsletter Editor (J. Button) reported that three issues of the Newsletter had been published. There was considerable discussion on the proposed introduction of new S.I. units for radiological quantities, especially as the ICRU had not offered a new unit to replace the “rem”.

      Having served as President for the maximum term of two years, I confidently handed the leadership of the Society to James Button. At the Conference Dinner, I presented a pewter trophy to the Society, in appreciation of the honour of having served as Foundation President. The cup continues to be passed to successive Presidents.

      At one of the four Committee meetings held that year, the need for another grade of membership for persons not holding formal academic qualifications was considered. The Committee appointed M.W. Carter to represent the Society at discussions on the proposed formation of an Australian Occupational Health Society. Our Society sponsored a one-day meeting in Sydney on 11 October 1977 to discuss the implications of the proposed introduction in Australia on 1 January 1978, of new S.I. units for the measurement of both ionising radiation and the activity of radioactive material. Among the 25 attendees was the Executive Member of the Metric Conversion Board. In the event Australia became one of the first countries to adopt the new units.

      The Society’s third Annual Conference, convened by A.P. Cardew, was held at the University of Sydney in May 1978. It attracted 50 attendees, and 21 papers were presented. The fourth Conference was to be held in Canberra in July 1979, when there was a severe breakdown in national telephone and postal services and in air transport. However James Button came to the rescue with citizen band radio, and 35 persons managed to attend. At that Conference, convened by P.L.T. Ilbery, 20 papers were presented, and A.P. Cardew was elected President.

      The fifth Conference, convened by G.E. Smith, was held in Melbourne in May 1980. It attracted 82 participants and 21 papers were presented. James Button was re-elected President.

      By the end of May 1980, the number of members had grown to 123, and a total of 19 meetings of the Committee had been held. Five conferences had been convened, with a total of 295 attendees and the presentation of 112 scientific papers. The Newsletter was continuing to serve the membership, and the Society was flourishing. Hence this seems to be a convenient juncture at which to leave this narrative, and to consider subsequent highlights in the development of the Society.

      SUBSEQUENT HIGHLIGHTS

      Foremost among the Society’s highlights were the hosting of the Seventh International Congress of IRPA in Sydney in 1988, and the later establishment of a system of professional accreditation in radiation protection.

      IRPA7

      When this Society hosted the Seventh International Congress of the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA7) in 1988, it orchestrated a triple event, unique in the history of radiation protection by arranging for IRPA7 to be followed by a related conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on radiation protection in Nuclear Energy. Interposed in the weekend between each of these two consecutive week-long events was a function to celebrate the diamond jubilee anniversary of the 1928 formation of the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP). It was a highlight shared by both conferences. Radiation protection in Australia benefitted considerably from the overall experience, and ARPS demonstrated very clearly that it had then come of age.

      IRPA7 began at a regular Committee meeting held in Sydney in April 1983, when visiting Committee Member J. Fitch remarked that 1988 would be the year of both the Australian Bicentenary Anniversary and also of the 7th International Congress of IRPA. The Committee adopted her suggestion that the Society should offer to host the Congress in Australia, and that it should incorporate the Society’s regular annual conference.

      As the Bicentennial Year would be a very busy time, especially in Sydney, a Working Party, consisting of M. W. Carter and myself proceeded expeditiously to make tentative arrangements and to prepare the various documents that could constitute a formal Bid Proposal.

      At the Annual General Meeting held in August 1983, the Society endorsed the proposal to submit a formal invitation to IRPA to hold its Seventh International Congress in Sydney in 1988. The Society nominated me as its candidate for the role of Convenor, which IRPA persisted in calling the Vice-President for Congress Affairs.

      • Preliminary planning for the Congress involved many items. The basic ones were:
      • Formation of a temporary Congress Steering Committee
      • Selection of tentative dates, venues and a Professional Conference Organiser
      • Preparation of a draft budget
      • Description of this Society and of radiation protection activities and scenic attractions in Australia.

       Multiple sets of the formal bid portfolio were sent to the Executive Officer of IRPA in October 1983.

      In May 1984 nine members of this Society attended the IRPA-6 Congress held in West Berlin. They actively promoted this Society’s bid against a competing bid from Canada. For some members this was their first experience at political-type lobbying. This was necessary particularly as strong representations were made by an IAEA officer to persuade IRPA to hold its 1988 Congress in Europe in conjunction with the IAEA, so that both those entities might jointly recognise the sixtieth anniversary of the formation of the ICRP. Hence it was with great delight at the IRPA General Assembly held on 9 May 1984 that our Australian bid was adopted by a voting majority of 86 to 43. So began an extended period of intensive work.

      With the concurrence of the IRPA President, the Sydney persons listed below were appointed as Members of the International Congress Organising Committee (ICOC), with their primary responsibilities as shown.

      Chairman R. Rosen
      Scientific Secretary J.C.E. Button
      Treasurer A.P. St. E. Cardew
      Member (till 17.1.87) M.W. Carter
      Exhibition Co-ordinator (from 15.10.86)  A.W. Fleischmann
      Member (from 14.1.88) E.D. Hespe
      Publications Co-ordinator D.J. Higson
      Secretary-General D.A. Woods

      A parallel Program Committee (ICPC) under the Chairmanship of Hans Brunner (Switzerland), and with strong support of Jim Button as Scientific Secretary, proceeded to plan and manage the scientific program for the Congress.

      Meanwhile the IAEA was finally persuaded to hold its own radiation protection conference in Sydney, in tandem with IRPA7, and at the same venue.

      The major items which the Steering Committee and the ICOC implemented, and which far exceeded those of a regular annual conference, included the following:

        • Acquisition of official government letters inviting IRPA to hold IRPA7 in Sydney
        • Acquisition of a letter from the Department of Foreign Affairs regarding the issue of visas to all bona fide registrants
        • Attendance at overseas conferences to promote IRPA7
        • Formation of a Limited Company (IRPA7 Ltd) to be responsible legally for the financial affairs of the Congress
        • Appointment of a Professional Conference Organiser
        • Distribution of a total of 36,000 first and second announcement brochures
        • Announcement of the Congress in 108 national and international journals
        • Liaison with an international program committee
        • Co-ordination with the IAEA for the physical and program arrangements for the IAEA conference
        • Provision of simultaneous French/English translation
        • Publication before the Congress of the 518 scientific papers bound in 3 volume sets for issue to registrants
        • Provision of a function to celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the formation of the ICRP, in the Sydney Opera House and in the distinguished presence of the Governor General of Australia
        • Control of a budget of almost half a million 1988 dollars
        • Answerable to an international Council
        • Co-ordination with two external technical Workshops
        • Provision of various social functions
        • Registration of 648 participants from 58 countries with 153 registered accompanying persons

           

          In the weeks leading up to the Congress, and particularly during its operation, members of the ICOC devoted much of their waking time to the needs of the Congress. Consequently there was a feeling of satisfaction and great relief when it was over.

          Even though this was the first international congress of IRPA to be held in the southern hemisphere, external reviews indicated that it had been scientifically, socially and financially successful. This Society gained a high international reputation, due largely to the extensive and dedicated endeavours of all the team members.

          Professional Accreditation

          The second major highlight, namely professional accreditation in radiation protection, had its official origin at the Society’s 1990 Conference, which was held jointly with the Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine (ACPSEM). In a joint Workshop Session, attendees recognised the need for the health physics profession in Australia to provide a system by which applicants could demonstrate their competence to act professionally in each of the legally specified roles of Radiation Safety Officer and Accredited Radiation Protection Expert. That need, motivated primarily to preempt the imposition of professional standards by external legislators, led to the formation of a Joint Working Group consisting of the following persons.

          • Mr J.C.E.Button
          • Dr R.Rosen (Convenor)
          • Mr M.W.Carter
          • Mr L.T .Collins
          • Miss V A Evans
          • Mr A.W.Fleischmann
          • Mr L. Sim
          • Mr B.W. Thomas
          • Mr D.A. Woods

          The Group identified the objectives of accreditation, and produced a list of competencies to be required of accredited persons. To cater for the differing requirements of potential candidates, detailed syllabuses for ionising radiation at both a basic level and at an advanced level of accreditation were developed, together with a study guide which related each syllabus item to nominated pages in standard texts. Fifteen volunteers participated in a basic level pilot examination, which proved to be highly successful. A corresponding syllabus for non-ionising radiation at the basic level was also developed. Much effort had been devoted to the preparation of this material.

          In 1993, with some misgivings, the Working Group was superseded by a new joint National Competency Standard Task Group, which emphasised the need for professional accreditation to be competency based, rather than attribute based. Under the new leadership of T.van Doorn, and later B.J.Thomas, the Group appointed D.Waggett to provide a comprehensive set of five modules, one of which was radiation protection. By June 1996 that document had been revised and endorsed by both organisations.

          In September 1997, R.J.deGroot and D. Stroud, representing this Society and the College respectively, were invited to bring the labours of their predecessors to fruition. They produced a “Candidates Kit”, which has since been refined and accepted by both organisations. To administer the Scheme, both organisations agreed to the establishment of an independent Australasian Radiation Protection Accreditation Board (ARPAB). The Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists was included as a third sponsoring organisation. The Board comprises two representatives of each of the three sponsoring organisations. It was formally incorporated in 2000, under the chairmanship of D. Stroud. Soon thereafter a Panel of Examiners was established and internally authenticated.

          Since then the Board has held theoretical and practical examinations, and has accredited some 24 persons. In addition, the Board has conducted special workshops, and is soon to recognise skills in ionising radiation protection at the advanced level.

          Potential candidates are encouraged to apply for accreditation, for the mutual benefit of applicants, prospective employers and this Society.

          INNOVATIONS

          Several innovations have contributed to the evolution of our Society. The Constitution has been amended to include incorporation of the Society; the addition of the membership grade of Fellow; a Code of Ethics has been adopted; and the name of the Society has been changed from “Australian” to “Australasian”, to include members resident in New Zealand. The Society logo has been modified to incorporate symbolism for both ionising and non-ionising radiation. Attendance at Committee meetings has been The Society produces “Issues Papers” on radiation safety items of topical concern, and it offers advice to industry, to government and to cognate international organisations. State Branches or Groups have been established in New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, Queensland and Victoria, with mixed success.

          I would now like to introduce you to the two original “highlights” of the Society, which have been its continuing mainstay ever since its formation, namely the Society’s publications and conferences.

          PUBLICATIONS

          Bridging the communication gap with members has always been an essential part of this Society’s activities. The gradual rise in the quality of its publications has reflected the dedication of successive Editors, who have also fulfilled the role of publisher. Following Rob Robotham, Jim Button in January 1977 revised the format of the Newsletters which were issued intermittently, depending on the supply of items and availability of the Editor. Following the publication of six of those Newsletters, their content was expanded in November 1979 to include publication of technical papers, especially those presented at the Society’s conferences. The name of the publication was upgraded to “Bulletin”, and each issue was embodied in the now characteristic light blue covers. Seven of these Bulletins were published with an average content of 134 pages.

          In January 1983 Ches Mason acceded to the post of Editor. He introduced a new series which had double type-set columns, with the regular publication of four issues each year. He added the Society logo to the front cover, and established an Editorial Board. During his six years as Editor, he produced 36 issues of the Bulletin. Colin Roy became the Editor in 1988, and continued for ten years, during which he edited 37 issues. These included seven special issues which were dedicated to papers arising from three Society Technical Workshops, namely ELF Radiation, Air Monitoring, and Mineral Sands. In 1999 Ron Cameron accepted the post of Editor. Commencing with Volume 16, the publication was retitled “Journal”, and the cover displayed the new logo of the Society. He introduced a new editorial policy, having a preference for refereed papers.

          Cameron Jeffries has been the Editor since 2003, and he currently continues to maintain the high standard of the Journal. His editing assistance to authors is much appreciated. At the time of writing, the most recent issue is Volume 29, No.1.

          The clarion call of each Editor has been a request for the submission of more manuscripts.

          In 1989 David Paix sensed that the Bulletin needed to be supplemented by a parallel publication which would disseminate news items to members. So he introduced a new Newsletter titled “Emanations”. Each eight page A5 issue contained topical items ranging from news of members to book reviews and conference notices. The series lapsed however after only five issues.

          In response to the enduring need for a newsletter, Don Higson initiated a NSW Branch Newsletter in July 1995. This proved so popular that copies were soon distributed to all members of the Society. In March 1998 it became a Society Newsletter, each issue of which was eagerly awaited by members. For convenience, in 2003 the Newsletter became incorporated as a separate section within the Journal. Editorship of the Newsletter was transferred in 2004 to Andrew McEwan who was able to include much news from overseas. In 2010 Don Higson resumed the post of Newsletter Editor.

          As an extension to its information disseminating role, our Society established its own website in 2008, with “Public” and “Members Only” sections. It supplements the Newsletter for those who might access it.

          ANNUAL CONFERENCES

          This Society has held a scientific conference each year to facilitate the face-to-face exchange of technical information, in both formal and informal settings. Initially the conferences were held alternately in Sydney and Melbourne, but as more experience was gained, members in other cities volunteered to convene the event.

          Convening a scientific conference involves a multitude of tasks. As the complexity of the conferences increased, convenors appointed a small committee to assist with much of the work. These unsung heroes not only carried out the preparations, but also ensured the smooth running of the scientific program and associated social events. At one stage, a Society “Conference Planning Guidebook” was introduced to facilitate contained the accumulated wisdom of successive organising committees. However it was later superseded by the annual appointment of a Professional Conference Organiser. In the early years there was a plentiful supply of conference papers.

          To dignify conference proceedings, it was usual for each conference to be opened by a notable scientist or politician. The first Paper was then delivered by a distinguished speaker who delivered the technical “Conference Keynote Address”. Following the presentation of each successive paper, the discussion which ensued, both in the auditorium and informally afterwards, has often been extremely rewarding, and in some instances has led to the development of friendships among persons who reside in widely different locations. Other informal discussion and the exposition of technical problems have enabled a network of personal contacts to be developed, the substantial positive value of which can only be conjectured.

          At one stage, to assist chairpersons to politely curtail loquacious speakers, a simple device was built to indicate to speakers the various time phases of their presentations. It was faithfully passed to several successive convenors. The inconvenience of its long electrical cables however eventually led to its demise.

          The main role of the scientific program coordinator has been to arrange the scientific program; supervise the provision of presentation facilities and production of the pre-conference “Book of Abstracts”; liaise with authors; and to appoint session chairpersons. Some technical papers are more suited to be presented in poster format. This has allowed attendees more time to assimilate the information than would be the case with oral presentation. At some conferences, technical workshops on topics of special interest have been held. An additional incentive for attendance at some conferences has been the opportunity to visit a nearby facility having special radiation protection interest. At some conferences a social program is arranged for accompanying persons.

          From 1977 onwards, each conference included a Trade Exhibition in which suppliers of radiation equipment, radio-isotopes, technical books, and service providers have hired stalls to display their wares. Mutual benefit to registrants and commercial companies has resulted from this arrangement.

          The Society’s conferences have provided an opportunity for attendees to present the results of their scientific labours, and to expound their philosophical views on a range of radiation protection topics. Many persons have benefitted from the experience. To promote improvement in the quality of the technical content of papers, and in the dynamic process of oral delivery, prizes have been awarded for outstanding presentations. Occasionally advice on these skills has been given.

          Despite the widespread geographical residential distribution of members, their support as shown by their attendance at the Society’s conferences has been very gratifying. At most conferences there have been registrants from overseas, whom the Society has been pleased to welcome. Some of these visitors have voluntarily commented on the general high standard of the scientific presentations in comparison with similar conferences held in their own countries.

          Besides the scientific program, each conference also included the concurrent Annual General Meeting of the Society, and the Conference Dinner. Much could be written about conference dinners, including the originality of the venue, the menu, and the choice of after dinner speaker or entertainment. Suffice it here to say that the dinners have proven to be popular, and some aspects have become talking points for many years afterwards.

          Due to astute planning by conference treasurers, most conferences have yielded a small profit. The accumulation of these funds has been used occasionally to subsidise the cost of invited speakers.

          Anecdotal evidence indicates that each ARPS conference has been judged to have been highly successful, both in terms of its scientific content, and its social program. The blend of these two aspects, coupled with the substantial input of the conference organising committee, the good will of attendees and the nature of the venue, all combined to give each conference a particular character of its own.

          For the benefit of members who have not been able to attend a conference, and as a record for posterity, a summary report on each conference has usually been published in the Society’s journal. For these same reasons, and others, conference presenters should be strongly encouraged to submit their papers for publication, preferably in the Society’s journal.

          Over the years there has been a gradual change in emphasis of the topics of papers presented at our conferences. To some extent this reflects the emergence of items of national interest, such as uranium mining, and the increasing use of nonionising radiation devices and interest in clinical dosimetry.

          EPILOGUE  Back to top

          Having now surveyed the evolution of our Society, we have the opportunity to reflect on where we have come from, to acknowledge the work of our predecessors, to consider the present, and hopefully to inspire a new generation of radiation protection personnel. This Society is fortunate to have been served by dedicated office bearers and committee members, only some of whom have been named here. The governance of the Society is currently in good hands. The Committee would benefit from your input. I invite you to suggest new ideas and offer to assist the Committee, or better still, join it. Now is the time for you to come forward so that our Society will be able to meet the technological and sociological challenges that lie ahead.

          Our Committee, in looking to the future, offered to host the 2020 IRPA International Congress in South Australia, but was outvoted. Perhaps a more imminent IRPA Regional Conference might be more pragmatic.

          The theme of this Conference is “Bridging the Gap”, and the logo chosen to depict that theme is the Sydney Harbour Bridge. At the ceremonial opening of that Bridge on 19 March 1932, a speech was delivered by the chief design engineer, Dr John Bradfield. Now in conclusion, to indicate that I believe that our Society has a bright future, I can do no better than to repeat with minimal change his closing sentiments. Accordingly I leave you with this inspiring message.

          “There is something within the hearts and minds of any people which kindles with pride at some great national achievement, and the Australasian Radiation Protection Society is I think something of which we can be proud. May it inspire future radiation protection personnel to express in their work and in their lives that spirit of co-operation and service so necessary for Australia’s welfare, and using to the full our glorious worldly heritage, strive to excel in all that is noblest and best.”

           

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