While the applications of photogrammetry for mapping and photointerpretation commenced in Australia before World War II, the membership of Australia in the International Society of Photogrammetry (ISP and later named ISPRS) did not commence until after the War, when the National Mapping Authority was Australia's representative. The Australian Photogrammetric Society (APS) was formed in about 1966 and then became the member of ISP. APS was based on an executive that managed the communications with the local and international bodies and was initially jointly funded by the Institution of Surveyors Australia and the Australian Institute of Cartographers. The executive was centred in Melbourne from its formation, but it was subsequently transferred to Sydney in the 1980s. The name of the APS was also changed to Australian Photogrammetric and Remote Sensing Society (APRSS), following the name change of the international body in 1980.
As well as the executive of APS, state based groups were formed which were intended to attract the individual members to the society and hold technical meetings in each of the states' centres. Some of these groups were small and not very active, but to my knowledge there were viable groups which held regular technical meetings in Sydney and Melbourne for many years. An Australian Photogrammetry Conference was held in Sydney at UNSW in 1991.
The executive of APRSS was ambitious to demonstrate the strength of photogrammetry and remote sensing in Australia and hence set a program for greater involvement in ISPRS. Its first achievement was to manage a Working Group in Commission IV from 1976-1980 led by Doug Glendenning from WA. Then the executive successfully bid for ISPRS Commission I with John Trinder from NSW as President from 1980-1984. The third step in their plan for the future was for Australia to bid for a Congress in 1988, which was not successful. Another bid to hold the Congress was not made for some years. Australia was also responsible for ISPRS Commission V from 1992-1996 with John Fryer from NSW as President and who was also been responsible for a number of working groups over the period 1980 to 2012. As well, John Trinder has spent 16 years on the ISPRS Council between the years 1984 to 2008, holding various positions, including President from 2000-2004 and became an Honorary Member of ISPRS in 2008. Australia will host the ISPRS Congress in Melbourne in 2012 with Cliff Ogleby from Victoria as a member of ISPRS Council and as Congress Director.
An Association of Remote Sensing commenced in Australia in the 1970s, operating independently of the APRSS. The Remote Sensing Association was managed by an executive and its main responsibility was to convene the Remote Sensing conferences, that were held every two years, the locations of which are listed below. Tony Milne, Bruce Forster and Dennis Puniard were past chairmen of the Association. As well, Australia played a significant role in the Asian Conference of Remote Sensing in various locations throughout Asia and joined the Asian Association of Remote Sensing (AARS) as an Associate Member in 1986 and as an Ordinary Member in 1990. The latter followed representation by Bruce Forster for a change in the statutes to allow a near, non-Asian country, and in particular Australia and New Zealand, to become full members. Bruce Forster was awarded the Professor Boon Indrambarya Gold Medal at ACRS in Singapore in 2001 for contributions to Asian region remote sensing. Both Bruce Forster and John Richards were awarded an Order of Australia in 2009 for services to remote sensing.
APRSS and The Association of Remote Sensing jointly formed the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Association of Australasia (RSPAA) in 1992 and subsequently the biannual conferences were named the Australian Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Conferences. RSPAA then became the Ordinary Members of ISPRS and AARS until RSPAA was amalgamated with other spatial societies in Australia to form the Spatial Sciences Institute (SSI) in 2003. SSI then became the Ordinary Members of ISPRS and AARS. In 2010 the SSSI was formed in which the RS&P; Commission was established. The Commission through the SSSI is now the Ordinary Members of ISPRS and AARS.
While the RS&P Commission is small in comparison with some of the other Commissions in SSSI and also in comparison with comparable groups in many other countries, the Commission can be proud of its history, having made significant contributions to the local and international scenes in the fields of remote sensing and photogrammetry for many years. The success of the 34th International Symposium of Remote Sensing of the Environment in Sydney in April 2011, and the expectations of a successful ISPRS Congress in Melbourne in 2012 are further demonstrations of the role Australia is playing in the international scene. It is hoped that this legacy can be built on by subsequent generations of remote sensing and photogrammetry professionals.
Chair, SSSI RS&P Commission