Our History

From small beginnings to worldwide leaders

The ACPCC was originally founded as the Victorian Cytology Service (VCS) in December 1964 as a joint venture initiative between the Victorian State Government, the Cancer Council and Prince Henry’s Hospital. We were established to provide cervical cancer screening services to Victorian women following the introduction of the Pap smear. In 1965, we began operating from Prince Henry’s Hospital where we stayed until 1991.

In 1991, VCS was incorporated and moved from the hospital to Faraday Street in Carlton, Victoria. This was also the year that the National Cervical Screening Program was established as a joint initiative of Australian State and Territory Governments.

Over our 57-year history, ACPCC continued to expand its services. In 2012, we established VCS Pathology. This was followed by Digital Health in 2017 and Population Health in 2018. 


On 8 November, 2021 we changed our name from VCS Foundation Ltd to the Australian Centre for the Prevention of Cervical Cancer. This name change ensures that we are recognised as Australia’s leading organisation in cervical cancer screening and prevention — an important step in our goal to eliminate cervical cancer as a public health problem in our region. On the same day, we also launched the Australian HPV Reference Laboratory.

Some of our pioneering achievements include:

  • In 1989, we established the first Pap Test Registry in Australia to support an organised approach to cervical cancer screening.
  • In 2008, we established and operated the world’s first HPV vaccination program register on behalf of the Australian Department of Health.
  • We were a driving force in providing evidence to support the Australian Government’s decision to transition from 2 yearly Pap tests to 5 yearly HPV tests in the renewed National Cervical Screening Program, which commenced in December 2017.
  • In 2018, we became the first laboratory in Australia to achieve accreditation for processing HPV self-collection tests after undertaking a rigorous in-house validation process. Self-collection is the most important tool in Australia’s belt to achieve elimination of cervical cancer by 2035.
  • In 2021, we launched the Australian HPV Reference Laboratory to enhance and monitor the performance of HPV tests, technology and laboratory procedures to help reduce HPV-related disease.


Restructure of organisation to VCS Foundation VCS Population Health introduced


VCS Digital Health introduced

VCS ICT Platform canSCREEN upgraded for commercial market

Restructure of VCS workforce to support the renewed NCSP

12722025 smears reported from 1965 to the commencement of the renewed NCSP

Renewal of the National Cervical Screening Program launched in December 2017


VCS Shortlisted in tender for the operation of the National Cancer Screening Register but ultimately unsuccessful

ICT platform canSCREEN developed to support the future growth of the Victorian Cervical Cancer Screening Register and National Human Papillomavirus Register

Compass Main Trial recruitment target of 36,300 unvaccinated women born on, or before June 30th 1980 reached in May.

Total workforce prior to Renewal = 181


12,006,312 Pap smears reported over the life of the service

VCS Celebrates 50 years of service

Compass Main Trial tor recruit 121,000 women commences

VCS hosts PCC2015, the third such conference.2015


VCS appointed operators of the South Australian Screening Register added the service


Boys added to the HPV vaccination program. VCS takes on some functions of the Bowel Screen Program in Victoria. Planning commences for a renewed cervical screening program.

Compass Pilot Study commences

National Bowel Screen Cancer Registry Follow Program (PFUF) added to the service


VCS Pathology Established

VCS rebranding and logo refresh


VCS hosts PCC2011, the second such conference.

VCS releases first data showing a decrease in high grade abnormalities after introduction of the HPV vaccination program.


20th anniversary of VCCR.2010


Preventing Cervical Cancer Conference (PCC) bringing togeher Australian and International experts

Renewal of National Cervical Screening Program announced.


VCCR co-locates with the National HPV Vaccination Program Register.

VCS contracted to establish and operate the National Human Papillomavirus Program Register


National HPV Vaccination Program implemented.


NHMRC Guidelines for the Management of Asymptomatic Women with Screen Detected Abnormalities.


Implementation of MediPath LIS for histopathology.2005


Planning started for determining a suitable site for VCS once RWH moves.


CIS now had a decision support tool offering the reporting scientist or pathologist the appropriate clinical recommendation.


Due to another Victorian laboratory losing its NATA accreditation, test volumes increased markedly for a period.


CIS project completed July 2000. Victorian BreastScreen Registry relocated to new premises on 26 July 2000.


On 17 August 1999, the core functions of the new CIS commenced.

Dr Marion Saville appointed Director2000


Mandatory for pathology laboratories to meet performance targets.


VCS was providing a public cytology service for the Royal Melbourne Hospital.


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BreastScreen handled approximately 220,000 phone calls and made 158,000 appointments for women.


Performance measures for Australian laboratories reporting cervical cytology introduced.


VCCR and VBR required increased space.1995


First NHMRC Guidelines Screening to Prevent Cervical Cancer: Guidelines for the Management of Women with Screen Detected Abnormalities.


VCS commenced a contract to provide the Victorian BreastScreen Registry (VBR).


Cancer Council Victoria and Victorian Cervical Cytology Registry introduced the "Organised Approach to Preventing Cancer of the Cervix"


On 3 September 1991, VCS was incorporated.

National Cervical Screening Program established as joint initiative of Australian State and Territory Governments.

VCS moved from Prince Henry's to 265 Faraday Street Carlton


The Commonwealth agreed to pay $1.5 million, matched by the State Government, to improve the Service in a number of areas.1990


Bill passed. Amendment to Cancer Act 1958 Cancer (Central Registers) Act 1989. VCCR established under direction of Heather Mitchell - the first state-based Pap test Registry.


Review of cervical screening in Australia commissioned. Working Party on Central Registry at ACCV and proposal to establish Registry. Extensive community consultation.

Dr Gabriel Medley Appointed Director


Report of Anti Cancer Council of Victoria Working Party on Mass Screening for cervical cancer recommending formal statewide database.


A survey by the Anti-Cancer Council showed that 20% of Victorian women had never had a cervical smear.


May 1985 was a record month for smears, 29,442 were received.1985


There were the first reports of occupationally related illnesses at the Service.


Sir Lance Townsend, founding chairman died.


On the 28th May 1982, the Minister for Health, The Honourable T. W. Roper visited the Service and personally supervised the registration of the three millionth smear.


Despite a recommended two-yearly screening interval, Victorian women appeared to have set their own “mean interval” of 3.5 years.


Univac V77/600 mini-computer replaced virtually all existing clerical activities1980


In December 1979, VC(G)S celebrated 15 years.

Medical staffing continued to be a cause of concern since at no time since the inception of the Service had a stable medical staff structure been achieved.


There was a reorganisation of medical staff with four Pathologists employed within the Department of Anatomical Pathology.


RMIT established a degree course in applied science, which included Anatomical Pathology 1.


The introduction of Medicare bulk billing allowed other laboratories to provide an apparently “free” service.


The screened population coverage reached over 90% in some age groups.1975


Staff efficiency was calculated to have doubled since the inception of the Service.


The Clinical Cytology II subject commenced at RMIT.


The average smear cost for the year was $1.16.


137,717 smears were received, with 487 “positive” cases.


Punch cards were used for ‘normal’ and ‘abnormal’ records, which were transferred onto magnetic tape.1970


The Service moved into new premises on the third floor of the new clinical school at Prince Henry’s Hospital.


Staff were divided into Cytotechnologists, Senior Cytotechnicians and Cytotechnicians (screeners).


Screeners were mostly girls straight from matriculation.


Over the first 18 months, 70,878 smears were examined, which was approximately 7% of the adult female population in Victoria.

Total workforce at the commencement of the service = 19.5


Victorian Clinical Gynaecology Service established operating from Prince Henry's Hospital1965


Victorian Cytology (Gynaecological) Service was formed on 9th December 1964.
Dr Michael Drake appointed Director


Our Vision

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