90 year anniversary

We’ve come a long way in the 90 years the Guild has been serving its members, a long way as a profession and as a member-based organisation.

90 Years The Pharmacy Guild of AustraliaAs we celebrate our 90th anniversary this year, it is a good time to reflect on the advances – and the challenges – that have marked our development to become the Guild we know today.

When he set out to establish the Guild in 1928, Alexander McGibbony was told: “…you evidently do not realise that you are attempting the impossible”. Ever since he achieved the “impossible”, the Guild has not been reluctant “to attempt the impossible” in pursuit of the best outcomes for our members and for our patients.

We have fought battles, formed alliances, and gone it alone when necessary; never afraid to fight for the community pharmacy profession and the people our members serve. We have branched out into associated companies to ensure a sound financial footing for the Guild and these companies have grown into important individual entities in their own right.

One of the biggest innovations in the profession that the Guild has overseen has been the introduction of the five-year Community Pharmacy Agreements, which are aimed at optimising the distribution of pharmacy services around the country and providing business certainty for community pharmacies.

The first agreement came into effect in 1990 and we are now entering the negotiating phase for the seventh agreement which will be vastly different from our initial 1990s deal and will be one which will reflect the changing environment in which pharmacies operate today.

And that changing environment is a huge challenge which we are tackling head-on by helping to realign the focus of community pharmacy through business innovations, provision of services and collaboration with other health professionals.

To see a snapshot of how we have got to where we are now, I recommend reading the timeline included as it gives a broad overview of the extent of the Guild’s work and the scope of our operations which have brought us here today.

George Tambassis
National President
The Pharmacy Guild of Australia

90 years - condensed timeline


7 November 1927 – Registration of the Pharmaceutical Service Guild lodged in the Federal Arbitration Court, appointment of provisional committee and 260 potential members lodged applications to join. Alexander McGibbony is elected as Inaugural National President (1927-1947).

11 January 1928 – 9th biennial meeting of Australasian Pharmacy Conference held in Hobart, final seal of approval was given to Pharmaceutical Service Guild.

August 1928 – First meeting of the Federated Pharmaceutical Service Guild Federal Council with membership reaching a third of Australian pharmacists. Charles (Les) Butchers is appointed Federal Secretary (1928-1941).

Early 1930s – The first Guild-endorsed products, available in member pharmacies only, are released.

Mid 1930s – Guild successfully lobbies Scullin Government to exempt pharmacists from the most onerous provisions of the introduced sales tax laws.


1938 - President of the Industrial Commission of NSW, Justice Browne, tabled his report into the management, control and operations of pharmacy chain stores in the NSW Legislative Assembly.

1940 - A new Pharmacy Act was passed to restrict the ownership of retail pharmacies by companies.

1941 – Tom Allen is appointed Federal Secretary (1941-1947).

1947 – Sir Eric Scott is elected as National President (1947-1971) and Tom Evans is appointed Federal Secretary (1947-1973).


1950 – The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme begins.

1955 – Official opening of Guild House, Melbourne, the first steel-framed multi-storey office building erected privately since World War II, and Guild headquarters.

1957 – Sir Eric Scott (National President) returns from an extensive two-month survey of supermarkets and self-service stores in US and Canada, in an effort to analyse the possible threat to pharmacies.


1959 - The range of drugs on the PBS is greatly expanded and the Government introduces for the first time a patient contribution fee of 50 cents to be collected by pharmacists for supply of medications to non-pensioners.

Early 1960s – The Bachelor of Pharmacy is introduced in Australian universities.

1962 – The Gold Cross sign becomes the registered trade mark of the Federated Pharmaceutical Service Guild.

1963 – Guild Insurance Limited is established.


1968 – The Federated Pharmaceutical Service Guild officially changes its name to The Pharmacy Guild of Australia to coincide with the 40th anniversary.

1970 – The Guild hosted its first international conference in Sydney.

1971 – Alan Russell is elected as National President (1971-1982).

1972 – Responding to member letters, the Guild proposes to form a national marketing company.

1973 – Don Gibbons is appointed Executive Director (1973-1981).

1974 - National Secretariat moves from Melbourne to Red Hill location in Canberra.

1977 - On 25 October 1977 the Guild's new national headquarters in the Deakin ACT precinct is opened by Health Minister Ralph Hunt.


Late 1970s-Early 1980s – Recognising nearly 60 per cent of pharmacy undergraduates are female, the Guild begins targeting female pharmacists in ownership campaigns.

1981 – David Kindon is appointed Executive Director (1981-1984).

1982 – Margaret Bickle of NSW becomes the first female elected to National Council and Jim Matthews is elected as National President (1982-1990).

1984 – Robert Davies is appointed Executive Director (1984-1991).


1988 – The Guild’s ACT Branch is formed.

1989 – Over 2000 pharmacists marched on Parliament House to protest the Hawke Government’s “crucifixion” of the industry.

1990 – The Guild signs the First Community Pharmacy Agreement. Colin Johns is elected as National President (1990-1994).

1991 – The first Australian Pharmacy Professional conference is held.

1992 – Fred IT Group is established as NU Systems Pty Ltd. Stephen Greenwood is appointed Executive Director (1992-2006).

1993 – Guild forms the Australian Society of Consultant Pharmacists. Generic substitution begins in pharmacies.

1994 – Guild Financial Services, incorporating GuildSuper and Child Care Super is established. John Bronger is elected as National President (1994-2005).

1995 – Signing of the Second Community Pharmacy Agreement. The inaugural Women in Pharmacy conference is held in Sydney.

1997 – The first professional payment for pharmacy services, the community-based Medication Management Programme, was announced.


1998 – The Quality Care Pharmacy Program is launched. Maryland Pharmacy, NSW, becomes the first pharmacy accredited in October 1998. Gold Cross Products and Services is established.

1999 – The National Secretariat relocates from Deakin to Pharmacy Guild House in the Parliamentary Triangle which is opened with much fanfare on 24 November 1999 by Health Minister Dr Michael Wooldridge. 1999 also sees the launch of the QCPP Pharmacy of the Year competition.

2000 – The Guild signs the Third Community Pharmacy Agreement.

2001 – The first meeting of the NT Branch of The Pharmacy Guild of Australia occurs on the 16 October. The final link in the chain.  The Guild now has a Branch in every state and territory of Australia.

2004 – Taking the supermarket fight to the public, the Guild sends marketing kits to all pharmacies.

2005 - The Fourth Community Pharmacy Agreement is signed almost five months behind schedule. Kos Sclavos is elected as National President (2005-2013).

2006 – Guild signs PBS reform deal to lower cost of generics, transparency on medicines pricing and fair remuneration for pharmacy. Kieran Schneemann is appointed Executive Director (2006-2008).


2008 – The Guild leads the industry in launching various eHealth projects. ScriptMAP analysis tool is launched at APP. Wendy Phillips is appointed Executive Director (2008-2012).

2010 - The Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement is signed.

2012 – David Quilty is appointed as Executive Director (2012 to current).

2013 – The Pharmacy Under Threat petition, of 1.2 million signatures, is delivered to the House of Representatives. Pharmacy Board of Australia finds vaccination services are within the current scope of practice of pharmacists. George Tambassis is elected as National President (2013 to current).

2014 – The Discover More. Ask Your Pharmacist consumer awareness campaign is launched.

2015 – The Sixth Community Pharmacy Agreement is signed. The Guild’s online member portal, MyGuild, is launched. Payment portal system for all professional programs instituted.

2016 – Glucojels celebrate their 75th birthday.

2017 – The Guild joins with Pharmaceutical Society of Australia to deliver training modules to assist pharmacies in preparing for the rescheduling of codeine products. Community pharmacies in all jurisdictions now able to deliver flu vaccinations. Guild signs the first Pharmacy Compact with Government to free up funds from the Pharmacy Agreement.

2018 – The Guild looks towards the future of community pharmacy with further work on the Community Pharmacy 2025 strategic planning project. Removal of sunset clause covering location rules is legislated.

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Page last updated 27 April 2018