Faculty history

Faculty of Health Sciences Cumberland Campus


We acknowledge and pay respect to the Wangal people of the Eora Nation; on whose ancestral land the University of Sydney Cumberland Campus is built. As we share our knowledge, teaching, learning and research practices within this University may we also pay respect to the knowledge embedded with the Aboriginal custodianship of 'Country'.

Faculty history

The Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney has a proud history of working with its network of researchers, industry and community partners around the world to produce some Australia’s leading clinicians and foremost thinkers in the health and social policy fields.

Local Indigenous History

Wangal Country lies south of the Parramatta River from Cockle Bay to Rosehill - the area known as the Wann. The Cumberland Plain Woodland located adjacent to the Cumberland Campus is remnant of the former landscape of the Wann. Stone artefacts have been found at a likely Wangal campsite nearby Haslam’s Creek, Lidcombe.

The lifestyle of the Wangal people was closely dependant on nature and they successfully lived on this land for thousands of years.

The most well known Wangal man was Bennelong who lived alongside the Europeans. His ability to quickly learn English provided a vital link between the Europeans and those Aboriginal clans who survived the smallpox epidemic. Towards the end of his life Bennelong returned to traditional life and died as a respected Elder mourned by his people.

Faculty beginnings

In 1970, a report of the then New South Wales Advanced Education Board recommended that a corporate College of Advanced Education be established specifically to:

  • foster the development of paramedical education in New South Wales
  • provide courses and to grant awards to students
  • encourage effective teaching and professional development of the teaching staff
  • provide and maintain physical facilities for this teaching and research.

Commencement of operations

Cumberland College of Health Sciences Official Opening Ceremony, 1979

Cumberland College of Health Sciences Official Opening Ceremony, 1979

On 1 July 1973, the College formally commenced operation when its establishment was gazetted by the State Government. Incorporation within the Higher Education Act was constituted on and from 1 October 1974.

The College assumed the responsibility for courses in physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy and orthoptics. Post-registration nursing courses previously conducted by the NSW College of Nursing were included from 1975.

Initially named ‘New South Wales College of Paramedical Studies', when the Colleges of Advanced Education Act was passed in 1975, the name was changed to ‘Cumberland College of Health Sciences'.

Cumberland College of Health Sciences

Exercise and sport sciences demonstration at Open Day in 1980s

Exercise and sport sciences demonstration at Open Day in 1980s

Under the direction of Founding Principal, Dr Jeffrey Miller AM, the College pioneered the development of basic nursing studies in an academic setting and it convened the first National Health Sciences Education Conference.

After the beginning years of operation in five inner city campuses with rented premises, a site at East Street, Lidcombe was ready for occupancy from 1st July, 1978. It was on 26 October 1979, that His Excellency Sir Zelman Cowen AK GCMG KStJ QC, the then Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, officially opened the College.

From 1979 the College grew rapidly. The first Master's degrees were awarded, and additional specialty courses in Diversional Therapy, Medical Radiation Technology, Rehabilitation Counselling and Community Health began during the 1980s.

In 1984, the College commenced teaching the Aboriginal Health and Community Development course, and in 1985, it introduced the first interdisciplinary graduate diploma program.

In many respects the attainment of institutional accreditation status at the end of 1986 was the culmination of the College's first decade of endeavour for academic excellence. This is now recognised internationally.

The fifteenth anniversary of the establishment of the College was commemorated by hosting an International Conference on Health Sciences Education.

Established as the Faculty of Health Sciences

E Block under construction

E Block under construction

In 1989, State government legislation, in response to the Federal Government’s introduction of a Unified National System of Higher Education, dissolved the corporate college and re-established it as an Academic College of The University of Sydney with effect from 1 January 1990.

On 28 October 1991, the academic activities and staff of the College were established as the Faculty of Health Sciences in The University of Sydney and founding Dean, Professor Judith Kinnear was appointed. From 1990 a highlight of the amalgamation was involvement in PhD programs.

As from 1 January 1994, the School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences was integrated into the University’s Faculty of Nursing.




  • Graduates Association established
  • Designated as a collaborating centre of the World Health Organisation
  • Opening of the Sports Clinic at Cumberland Campus
  • School of Physiotherapy recognised as the largest in the world
  • World's first bachelors degree in Orthoptics commences
  • Faculty's first graduate entry master's program (Master of Rehabilitation Counselling) commences


  • World's first masters degree in Health Information Management commences
  • Australian Stuttering Research Centre established
  • National Centre for Classification in Health (NCCH) established in School of Health Information Management
  • Yooroang Garang established at Cumberland Campus

2000 onward

  • First higher degree research students graduate
  • Bachelor of Health Sciences undergraduate program launched
  • Graduates Association amalgamates to form Health Sciences Alumni Association



  • First Indigenous PhD Graduate, Dr Reuben Bolt
  • The Faculty jointly hosts the Symposium on the world report on disability with the World Health Organization
  • The Centre for Disability and Research Policy is established