P.S. Did You Know….
The Department was established in 1921. Early initiatives focussed on lung diseases in miners; communicable disease and cancer research; and various public awareness campaigns including how to preserve cows’ milk.
The Department has served 42 health ministers, had 13 heads of department and seven name changes since 1921.
The National Fitness Scheme in 1939, encouraged Australians to be physically fit so they could defend both their country and their principles in the second World War.
The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) started in June 1948 and provided the community with a number of life saving and disease preventing drugs.
The Government introduced the PBS we know today, on 1 March 1960. At that time, the scheme provided the community with access to an expanded range of drugs, and introduced a patient contribution (or co-payment) of five shillings.
Dr H W Wunderly, head of the TB Division, was knighted in 1954 for his work in setting up a national scheme to control tuberculosis, which reduced the rate of tuberculosis-related deaths from 25 per 100,00 in 1949 to 11 per 100,000 in 1953. The use of x-rays to detect the disease in its early stages was an essential part of this campaign.
The Department purchased its first computer in 1965 to handle the large number of claims by chemists under the PBS.
Government expenditure on medical benefits, pensions, services to school children, campaigns and technology increased from $143 million in 1960-61 to over $426 million in 1970-71.
The Government introduced Medicare, a national health insurance scheme, in 1984.
Following the October 2002 Bali bombing, the Department worked with the Health Insurance Commission (now Medicare Australia) to ensure victims did not face out-of-pocket costs for health care conditions caused by the bombing.
The Department had a major role in the coordination of the national health response to the Asian tsunami, which included supplying nine medical teams comprising doctors, nurses, paramedics and other health care professionals in tsunami affected regions.