Australia in the 1980s

Medical advances

In 1980, Candice Reed, Australia's first ever test-tube baby, was born at the Royal Women's Hospital, Melbourne.

In 1982, a bionic ear, developed at the University of Melbourne, was successfully implanted for the first time.

In September 1981, Australia's first death from Acquired Immunity Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) occurred when a 72-year-old man died in Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. In November 1982, the first case was diagnosed. In 1984, a federal task force was set up to coordinate the campaign against AIDS.

In February 1981, the antivenene for funnel-web spider bites was developed by Struan Sutherland in the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. In the same year, a national genetic engineering centre was established at the Research School of Biological Sciences at the Australian National University in Canberra. CSIRO's radioastronomers discovered pulsars in the Magellanic Clouds.

The symbol for World AIDS Day

A snapshot of 1988

  • January
    • The first Aboriginal television station, Imparja, began transmission in Alice Springs.
    • Australia's Bicentennial celebrations began and the First Fleet re-enactment vessels arrived at Botany Bay.
    • The new Parliament House on Capital Hill in Canberra was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II.

  • June
    • Kay Cottee became the first woman to sail single-handedly and non-stop around the world.
    • The $2 coin went into circulation replacing the old $2 note.


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