Original Research

Psychiatry in Australia

Robert M Kaplan
South African Journal of Psychiatry | Vol 10, No 2 | a143 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajpsychiatry.v10i2.143 | © 2004 Robert M Kaplan | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 August 2008 | Published: 01 October 2004

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Psychiatry has been practised in Australia in one form or another since the peopling of the continent, originally with the practices of the Aboriginal shamans, and later with the psychiatric treatment necessitated by convict transportation.

Over most of the last half-century psychiatry has been administered by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists.

There are over 2 000 psychiatrists in Australia, and num- bers are expected to increase in future.

As in many other countries, there is ongoing pressure between the private and public sectors, with endemic under- funding of public and community services.

Despite its small number of practitioners and relative isola- tion from major centres, Australian psychiatry has a distin- guished record in the field of research. The most famous dis- covery, by John Cade, was the use of lithium for treatment of mania.

Recently governments at state and federal level have acknowledged the effect of psychiatric illness on patients and their families. This has led to the development of pro- grammes to improve public information and eliminate preju- dice.

It is anticipated that the practice of psychiatry will flourish in Australia and that the country will remain a leading centre of excellence in psychiatric research and training.


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