COCA History

Frederick George Roberts founded the Chiropractic and Osteopathic College of Australasia in 1959. Prior to this time F.G. Roberts was a Natural Health Practitioner embracing Chiropractic, Osteopathy and Naturopathy and had clinics in Ballarat, Geelong, Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Maryborough, Bundaberg, Mackay, Adelaide, Perth and Fremantle. He visited all these clinics regularly and gave public lectures on natural healing. From 1959 onwards his interest turned more to Chiropractic.

The Melbourne based College was originally located in South Yarra, moved to South Melbourne in 1965 and to East Malvern in 1974. In the mid 60’s the term Osteopathic was dropped from the title of the College, even though the osteopathic component of the curriculum remained virtually unchanged. The original chiropractic component of the curriculum was styled on that of the Western States College of Chiropractic, the Indiana Chiropractic College and the Palmer College of Chiropractic.

In 1964 F.G. Roberts lead a deputation of chiropractors to the then Minister for Health, Sir Ronald Mack MLC, seeking registration for chiropractors. The Minister advised the deputation that a training institution of acceptable standards would have to be established before registration could be considered. It was at this time some of the leading graduates of the early years of the college, including Dr.Janus Fawke, became involved in its stewardship.

The course went through a rapid educational evolution improving its standards year by year until in 1970 it became a four (4) year full-time program of over 4000 hours duration. From the period 1959 to 1979 the College graduated about two hundred practitioners. Many of these graduates are still involved not only in practice, but at high levels in chiropractic administration, politics, academia and research. The College closed its undergraduate program in 1979 and transferred its students, equipment and some staff to the Preston Institute of Technology program. This is now the Royal Melbourne of Institute of Technology course.

However, the College maintained its company structure and acted as a repository for the records of its undergraduates.

Independently in 1990 the Chiropractors and Osteopaths Musculo-Skeletal Interest Group (COMSIG) evolved from regular clinical meetings at Ringwood Clinic, a multi-disciplinary clinic in Melbourne. In 1987 the Directors of the clinic, Bruce F. Walker D.C. and Alison Hogg MB.BS.(Hons), FRACGP, decided to invite a range of guest speakers (on musculo-skeletal topics) to give an address every 6 weeks.

Various practitioners involved in musculo-skeletal healthcare spoke at Ringwood Clinic including physiotherapists, orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons to mention a few, and these talks were also presented in conjunction with chiropractic and osteopathic speakers. The lunchtime meetings proved very popular attracting local practitioners of all persuasions and although all groups were represented, by far the greatest interest was shown by the chiropractors and osteopaths in Melbourne.

Buoyed by the success of these Ringwood Clinic meetings Bruce Walker and Associate Peter Werth B.App.Sc. (Chiro) arranged the initial COMSIG meeting in Box Hill which consisted of case presentations from various Melbourne based chiropractors and osteopaths.

Eventually, COMSIG required larger venues and an organisational structure. After several successful meetings attracting groups of 60 to 70 practitioners the COMSIG organisation was formalised and gained the invaluable assistance of David de la Harpe B.Sc., B.App.Sc.(Chiro), MB.,BS., Shane Carter B.App.Sc.(Chiro) and Simon Clement D.O. to the committee. COMSIG acted independently of the Chiropractors Association of Australia (CAA) and the Australian Osteopathic Association (AOA).

Later in 1990 COMSIG underwent a name change and incorporated under the company structure and banner of the long established Chiropractic & Osteopathic College of Australasia. From this seminal beginning the College has grown into the leading provider of vocational development, seminars and conferences for both professions in Australia. By the end of 2008 the College had in excess of 1000 members nationwide.