History of Spine Society by Rob Fraser

Although the Spine Society of Australia was formerly constituted in 1990, its roots can be traced back to 1970. In that year a Spinal Symposium took place in Ballarat, immediately after the Combined Meeting of the Orthopaedic Associations of the English Speaking World which had been held in Sydney. Chaired by Ronald Beetham, the Symposium had 35 registrants with a prominent international surgical faculty that included Harry Farfan, from Montreal, who three years later became the Founding Chairman of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine. At the Ballarat meeting the attending Australians decided to form a society named the Facet Club, which first met in 1971 with Alan Dwyer as the Founding Chairman. Subsequently meetings were held each year and these were generally small and informal.

Delegates of spinal symposium in Ballarat Victoria 1970. At that meeting the Australian delegates decided to form the Facet club (which later became the Spine Society of Australia).

At the 1989 Meeting in Adelaide members voted to change the name of the Facet Club to the “Spine Society of Australia” with the aims of broadening the membership base and encouraging spinal research and education. A steering committee chaired by Robert Fraser prepared a constitution which was subsequently endorsed by the membership during the first ASM in Sydney in 1990. That document stated the objectives of the Society which included:

  • To form an educational organisation dedicated to the exchange of ideas and dissemination of scientific and clinical knowledge concerning spinal disease and disorder.
  • To advance the quality of and encourage research into the management of spinal disease and disorder.
  • To improve the means of communication and support for young men and women involved in the medical and scientific study, investigation and treatment of spinal disease and disorder.


In recognition of his role in helping to establish the Facet Club, Ron Beetham was made a Life Member. Sir George Bedbrook, who had an international reputation for his work on spinal cord injury, was made an Honorary Member. Within two years the Membership (including Corresponding Members) had reached 130, the Society’s unique identity was symbolised by a distinctive logo used on letterhead and Society ties, the Rob Johnston and Spinal Research Awards had been established and abstracts from the Annual Scientific Meetings were published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. Most important of all goodwill and co-operation had been established between various disciplines interested in spinal disorders.