Megavoltage treatment introduction in Australia

Australia was one of the first nations to utilise MV radiation therapy equipment, with three among the first dozen clinical linear accelerators being installed in Australia in 1956 and 1957 (Thwaites and Tuohy, 2006). The number of MV teletherapy systems in Australia now exceeds 200. The expansion of services over the years is estimated in the figure below, using data aggregated from multiple sources.

I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the presented data, but would estimate that the discrete data points (indicated by markers in the figure) are accurate within ±2 systems. The pre-1970 numbers were tallied using data presented in the 1975 issue of The Radiographer and from Queensland Radium Institute log books; assuming no machines were decommissioned prior to 1970, and that no equipment was omitted from the detailed histories presented by the authors of those articles. The numbers presented for the years 1986-2009 were extracted from figure 25 of Wigg and Morgan’s 2001 workforce report and Lyn Oliver’s 2009 CSM presentation titled “The history of medical physics in Australian radiotherapy” (using WebPlotDigitizer, in both cases). The most recent numbers were taken from the Tripartite National Strategic Plan for Radiation Oncology (2012) and the Review of the Radiation Oncology Health Program Grants Scheme (2016).

The Tripartite National Strategic Plan projected the number of systems required to meet a target utilisation rate of 52.3% (for radiation oncology in the treatment of patients with cancer) as 208 in 2017 and 267 in 2022.


  • Bailey MM, Chambers JMS and Manny ML, 1975. Down the maze: Radiotherapy in New South Wales, The Radiographer 46: 8-11
  • Graham R, 1975. Then to now: Radiotherapy in Victoria, The Radiographer 46: 12-15.
  • MP Consulting, 2016. Review of the Radiation Oncology Health Program Grants Scheme.
  • Oliver L, 2009. The history of medical physics in Australian radiotherapy, Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Oncology 53(S1): A95.
  • Poller J, 1975. Radiotherapy in Western Australia 1902-1974, The Radiographer 46: 24-25.
  • Radiation Oncology Tripartite Committee, 2012. Planning for the Best: Tripartite National Strategic Plan for Radiation Oncology 2012-2022.
  • Thwaites DI, Tuohy JB, 2006. Back to the future: the history and development of the clinical linear accelerator, Physics in Medicine and Biology 51: R343-R362.
  • Tweddell J, 1975. The History of Radiotherapy in Queensland, The Radiographer 46: 4-7.
  • Wigg DR, 1988. Radiation Oncology in Australia: An Increasing Crisis, Australasian Radiology 32(1): 24-37.
  • Wigg DR, Morgan GW, 2001. Radiation oncology in Australia: Workforce, workloads and equipment 1986–1999, Australasian Radiology 45(2): 146-169.
  • Wilson M, 1975. Radiotherapy in Tasmania: A tale of two cities, The Radiographer 46: 16-20
  • Woodger EG, 1975. South Australia Radiotherapy over 45 years, The Radiographer 46: 21-23