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Our History

Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA) arose as a branch of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE), based in Switzerland, founded in 1990 and with member organisations in 38 countries, mainly Europe and the Americas. 

The aims of ISDE were to publicise the relationship between the condition of the environment and human health, promote environmentally friendly behaviour amongst physicians, patients, and the public, and to cooperate at all political levels in the reduction of harmful environmental influences on health. 

After initial contact between Professor David Shearman and ISDE, it was agreed that the most promising base for an Australian initiative was to explore becoming a branch of ISDE. David Shearman visited Geneva to discuss this option with Dr Siblerschmidt, Executive Officer of ISDE. The creation of an Australian branch of ISDE was agreed upon and Professor Shearman identified a potential chairperson in Dr Bill Castleden.

The call to action in Australia commenced with an Editorial in the Medical Journal of Australia by Tony McMichael and Charles Guest in November 1999 “Doctors and the “environment” a call to arms for medical practitioners in Australia. An advertisement for the formation of DEA was placed in the same issue of MJA and recruitment commenced in 2000. 

In April 2001 DEA was Incorporated in the State of South Australia and became a registered organisation. 

The Mornington Meeting – October 2002 

At this inaugural meeting in 2002 the following key medical professionals joined David Shearman and Bill Castleden to plan the structure and vision of Doctors for the Environment Australia.

  • Colin Butler
  • Grant Blashki
  • Kevin Chamberlin
  • Roscoe Taylor

This founding group of doctors determined the health aspects of climate change were DEA’s priority for action. There were concerns that the name Doctors for the Environment Australia did not include the word health so it was decided to have a subsidiary title “promoting health through care of the environment”. 

DEA’s fight against climate change and to promote health by caring for the environment had begun.


A detailed look into DEA’s first decade - written by co-founder David Shearman.