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Our History

Fifty years ago, a passionate rheumatologist called Les Koadlow decided we could do better.

Newly diagnosed patients kept coming to his clinic totally overwhelmed, isolated and confused about where to start. 

A stalwart believer in the benefit of ‘real people helping real people’, he set up the Rheumatism and Arthritis Association of Victoria – a place for those living with musculoskeletal conditions to get informed and get supported.

This is our story. 

1968 | The Rheumatism and Arthritis Association of Victoria (RAAV) is formed by Dr Leslie Koadlow AO (rheumatologist and Medical Director of the Royal Talbot Rehabilitation Hospital), his secretary Alice Petty and patient Mollie Riches.

1969 | RAAV registers as a charitable body.

1973 | Support groups are formed in rural and metropolitan areas for people with arthritis.

1976 | The Living with Arthritis courses begin running in community health centres.

1977 |  World Rheumatism Year. RAAV is incorporated under the Hospitals and Charities Act and we receive our first Victorian Government funding for salaried staff.

1978 | Public speakers start providing presentations to community groups.

1980 | RAAV establishes a unique warm water exercise program with trained volunteers leading classes.

1983 | Information sheets are translated into several different languages, as well as Braille. We start providing workshops for health professionals, produce the film Any Ache or Pain and launch the first National Arthritis Week awareness campaign.

1984 | Volunteers are trained to run arthritis self-management classes and exercise classes in the community.

1985 | Our name changes from RAAV to Arthritis Foundation of Victoria.

1986 | We became one of the first organisations in Australia to run The Arthritis Self Help Course, developed by Kate Lorig of Stanford.

1988 | Arthritis Update magazine replaces News Review as the official member publication. We begin recruiting and training volunteers to take calls on the help line.

1990 | Our mission expands to include all musculoskeletal conditions including back pain and osteoporosis. We develop an internationally-acclaimed osteoporosis self-management course.

1993 | A partnership is developed with the University of Melbourne and Royal Melbourne Hospital to establish the Centre for Rheumatic Diseases. A new program for juvenile arthritis, Youth and Family Services, begins, providing peer support for families, teenagers and children with arthritis.

1994 | We host the Asia-Pacific Arthritis Youth Forum and move to our permanent headquarters in Kooyong Road, Elsternwick.

1995 | Arthritis Foundation of Victoria incorporates Osteoporosis Victoria.

1996 | The Smart Moves curriculum package for primary schools is developed.

1998 | Our first website goes live 2000 A busy year, we produce a CD and web-based stretch break program for Victorian workplaces and launch the Healthy Bones Bus, a mobile information and education resource funded by the Victorian Ladies Bowls Association.

2001 | Move it or Lose it, a television show featuring exercise classes for people with muscle, bone and joint conditions is developed and airs on Channel 31.

2002 | The Australian Government declares musculoskeletal health a National Health Priority Area.

2005 | The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare recognises that there are over 150 types of musculoskeletal conditions.

2008 | We award the inaugural Helen Moran Gift to emerging researchers.

2009 | Nordic walking exercise courses begin.

2011 | We launch the Rheumatology Help Line, staffed by nurses, and the Arthritis Map, an online local service directory.

2012 | The website is redeveloped to make it more user-friendly. Page views double over the next two years.

2013 | We published the landmark report A problem worth solving: the rising cost of musculoskeletal conditions in Australia and lobby the Victorian Government to form the Musculoskeletal Clinical Leadership Group to guide government policy.

2014 | We convene the Victorian Pain Forum, bringing together health professionals to develop a state wide strategy for the sector. Social media platforms Facebook and Twitter start being used to raise our profile. Our website now attracts over 1.3 million page views annually.

2015 | Our new research strategy is launched. A partnership with YMCA to deliver warm water exercise classes in Victoria begins, as well as a partnership with Bowls Victoria to roll out the MOVE with Bowls program.

2016 | The organisation begins a new era, with a new voice as MOVE muscle, bone & joint health representing 1 in 3 Australians who live with muscle, bone and joint conditions and the health professionals who care for them.