Over four days in late July 1925 the representatives of eleven companies met and agreed to form the Australian Dental Trade Association (ADTA). This meeting of representatives from manufacturers and suppliers resolved and accepted, "that in order to promote the interest of the dental trade in Australia it is necessary to form an association of dental traders to stabilise the conditions of trade". Ninety years later we celebrate the commitment of those individuals in addition to the people and businesses today that have ensured that ADIA continues to be the peak business organisation representing manufacturers and suppliers of quality dental products and services to dental professionals.
In 1925 the objectives of the association included obtaining data on the market for dental products and it is therefore significant that, in our ninetieth year, with the ADIA Australian Dental Industry Intelligence Report we again publish the most authoritative assessment of the Australian market for dental products.
In the year before the 1929 stock market crash, an event which triggered the Great Depression, the association's conference noted the need for an assessment of market conditions which were deteriorating. Today, we publish the ADIA Dental Industry Business Conditions Survey to provide member businesses with a quarterly insight into current business conditions and future expectations.
In the midst of the Great Depression of the early 1930s the association met infrequently but had become more active towards the end of that decade. The real possibility of war was recognised and at the 1939 conference a resolution was passed that, "members be requested to give every assistance to their employees to take on military service".
When war broke out, the business of the association was suspended and the importation and distribution of dental products was taken over by the armed services, primarily the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).
After the war, the Bureau of Dental Standards was formed to measure and classify dental products. Based at Melbourne University's dental school, this organisation was based upon the American Bureau of Standards and, to some extent, was the forerunner of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the Australian Government regulator of therapeutic products. The association continued to grow throughout the 1950s and 1960s, along with the relationship with the Australian Dental Association (ADA) which was founded three years after the ADTA. The strengthening cooperation between ADTA and ADA was reflected in the formation of the Australian Dental Research Foundation (ADRF) in 1970. A joint ADTA and ADA initiative, this body remains the primary funding body for dental and oral health in Australia.
Another area of ADTA and ADA cooperation has been in the conduct of trade shows, with the first trade show convened by ADTA in conjunction with an ADA congress occurring in the late 1930s. This practice continued until early into the new millennium. Exhibitions in those days were modest affairs and in the 1980s there were around fifty booths, growing to more than one hundred and fifty by the turn of the twentieth century an event that seems small by today's association managed exhibitions, which include more than four hundred booths. Australia's premier event, the ADX Sydney dental exhibition was first convened in 2008. Held biennially, it today attracts more than eight thousand stakeholders from across the dental community.
In 1985, the association's sixtieth year, the name the 'Australian Dental Industry Association (ADIA)' was adopted, recognising the fact that the association's membership was growing beyond dental product manufacturers and suppliers. A new constitution was adopted and the organisation registered under the Associations Incorporation Act 1981 (Vic). This framework served ADIA well; however, to accommodate appropriate levels of corporate governance and financial oversight required for a growing national organisation, the association became a company limited by guarantee operating under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) in 2014.
Recognising that the fortunes of Australia's dental industry were tied to that of the sector's growth globally, ADIA was a founding member of the association of International Dental Manufacturers. Since its first meeting held in 1988, in Washington DC, (United States of America), IDM has matured into an independent umbrella organisation to globally represent as an association the common interests of member bodies, including ADIA, and through them, support the interests of the global dental industry as a whole.
The introduction of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth) and in 2002, the subordinate regulations for medical devices greatly changed the legal framework for the manufacture and sale of dental products. Today, the TGA presents the dental industry with arguably an unnecessarily complex set of regulatory standards.
With increased government oversight of the dental industry's operations, ADIA took a number of steps to strengthen its policy advocacy activities. In 2012 ADIA joined the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (AusChamber), the nation's foremost grouping of large industry associations augmented by each of the state and territory chambers of commerce. Also in that year, ADIA inaugurated the Dental Industry Meets Parliament initiative where at a small round-table forum convened by ADIA in Parliament House, Canberra, ADIA has met with a range of senior politicians ranging from the current Prime Minister, two Health Ministers through to a range of junior ministers and parliamentary secretaries.
Today, ADIA members supply more than 95% of all products used in contemporary Australian dentistry. A surge in applications over the past five years sees membership at record levels and the association has never been financially more secure.