Australian History

Australia is a complex society rooted in the history of our indigenous Aboriginal peoples, and of our colonial British forbears.  We are now witnessing a move to identify and work closely with our Asian neighbours as we recognize the reality of our geography and the multi-cultural nature of modern Australia. 

The Australian Psychoanalytical Society

The Australian Society is made up of three branches; one in each of the three largest cities in Australia - Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. APAS oversees the work of the Branches in training Candidates maintaining both a connectedness and a consistency between the Branches whilst respecting their autonomy and difference. We currently have 78 members and 19 candidates across the three branches and train candidates under the Eitingon Model. 

The Australian Society is a member of the European Psychoanalytic Federation. This is based on our cultural links with Europe. For many years we have also had strong bonds with the Indian and Israeli Societies who are geographically closer and with whom we run a biannual conference in Mumbai.  
The proposed fourth IPA region in the Asia-Pacific presents a wonderful opportunity for us. Australian analysts are making significant organisational as well as clinical contributions to this important IPA initiative. 

Aboriginal settlement

Our vast country has been inhabited by indigenous peoples for sixty thousand years. Hundreds of Aboriginal nations speaking many different languages were the original custodians of this continent with deep and enduring connectedness to their ancestors’ myths, legends and to their land. In writing this introduction to our Society we acknowledge the traditional custodians of the Land and of their Elders past and present.

European Settlement

The First Fleet from Britain arrived in 1788, carrying convicts from Britain’s overflowing gaols.
Although the continent had been inhabited for 60,000 years these white settlers regarded it as ‘Terra Nullius’ – nobody’s land. The traumatic consequences of this tragic dispossession of the original inhabitants are slowly being acknowledged and worked through in the Australian community
The perilous journey to Australia took many months at sea, and subsequent fleets brought more convicts, military and as time passed, more free settlers.
Until the mid-1900’s Australian immigration was limited to Caucasians and mostly from Britain, a policy reaction to non-European, mostly Chinese, immigration into the gold-fields in the 1850’s. 
More recent years however have seen successive waves of immigration from all continents bringing a rich cultural diversity and an increased emphasis on the resolution of conflictual forces within society.



The History of Psychoanalysis in Australia

Interest in Freud’s writing and in psychoanalysis began in Sydney in the early 1900’s.  Freud, Jung and Havelock Ellis were invited to read papers on psychoanalysis to the Australian Medical Congress in Sydney in 1911.  None were able to attend, but Freud submitted a paper 'On Psychoanalysis’. Freud mentioned this invitation in a letter to Ferenczi (1911): “Two days ago a new continent announces itself. The secretary of the Neurological Section of the Australian Congress disclosed itself as a subscriber of the Jahrbuch and asked for a short account of my theories which are still quite unknown in Australia”. 
In the 1930’s Roy Winn and Paul Dane, two local Sydney psychiatrists, trained as analysts in London and returned to work as pioneers of psychoanalysis in Sydney. In 1938 six analysts applied to migrate from Europe with the support of Ernest Jones in London. Only two were granted visas; Clara Lazar Geroe and Andrew Peto.  Dr Geroe arrived in Melbourne in 1941from Budapest having been analysed by Michael Balint. She immediately commenced analysing candidates and teaching in the newly established Melbourne Institute for Psychoanalysis. Andrew Peto remained in Hungary tragically losing his wife in the Holocaust. He arrived in Sydney in 1949. 
Initially the Melbourne Institute functioned as a part of the British Psychoanalytic Society. The Sydney Institute was founded in 1951 and the Adelaide Institute in1958. In 1973 the Society became an independent Component Society of the IPA with Branches in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney.   
We have benefited by the immigration of overseas analysts. In addition some Australian colleagues returned after psychoanalytic training in London and other centres abroad.  

The Australian context

The Australian population is 24 million. Most Australians live in major cities along the South-Eastern Australian coast. Successive waves of post-World War II migrants; first predominantly European, then Asian and now including African, has created a true melting pot. We have benefited enormously from this rich cultural diversity, however in our professional practice we see the outworking of traumas suffered not only here but also brought by refugees and migrants. 
While public mental health services primarily focus on a biomedical approach to treatment and emphasis in psychological treatment is on short term treatments, outreach programs across the Society in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney have revealed a renewed interest in depth psychotherapy and psychoanalysis.    

The Australian Psychoanalytic Society Today

We can now confidently say the Australian Society is flourishing.  Last year nine Candidates qualified as Members – the largest number in the Society’s history. We currently have nineteen Candidates. 
Each Branch runs popular introductory courses in psychoanalytic thinking. The Adelaide Branch has assisted Psychiatry Trainees undertaking Advanced Certificates in Psychotherapy, by providing introductory seminars in Psychoanalytic theory and concepts. Melbourne offers two programs: ‘Models of the Mind’ and ‘From Theory to Practice’. Sydney runs a year-long intensive course in psychodynamic psychotherapy, in addition to group seminars and supervisions for psychotherapists. 

In 2014 the Sydney Branch developed a Consultation and Referral Service (The Winn Clinic) which includes a low fee scheme for psychoanalytic treatment. In 2017, the Clinic fielded 223 inquiries about psychoanalytic treatment, the Sydney members completed 121 Consultations and 72 patients were successfully referred. The Clinic provides a portal to the community. By referring patients to other organizations, it reinforces the connections between psychoanalysis and other psychotherapy and psychiatric organizations. The Clinic provides training cases for our own candidates as well as other psychoanalytically oriented training programs. Melbourne is currently developing a service along similar lines.

 The scientific life of each Branch includes monthly clinical meetings.  We are proud of our e-journal, Psychoanalysis DownUnder (   

2018 Conference and invitation to IPA members to visit us

Each year we invite overseas analysts to our conferences to facilitate an exchange of ideas and interconnectedness with the wider analytic world, as well as with the public at Open Days. Most recent visitors have been: Franco De Masi, Stefano Bolognini, Rudi Vermote, Virginia Unger and Jeffrey Eaton. In September 2018 our guests and keynote speakers will be David Tuckett and Paola Morietti.

We warmly invite you to join us for the conference and consider a holiday in our wonderful country.

Here is a link to a brief video from our 2017 Australian Psychoanalytical Society Conference in Melbourne. The conference theme was “An Open Gate; forms of psychoanalytic listening’. (




1. Wat Kujarra Jukurrpa (Two men dreaming) 1986 Jampawarnu Paddy Jaaljarri Gibson
2. The Bridge in Curve, Grace Cossington Smith, 1930.
3. Aboriginal rock art, Arnhem Land, North Territory, Australia, estimated 40-60,000 years old
4. Untitled, Maurice Namatjira, early 1960s
5. The Pioneer, Frederick McCubbin, 1904
6. Collins St., 5pm, John Brack, 1955
7. Seafood paella, John Olsen, 2007
8. Kanaputa, Pintupi Women's Collaborative, 2010