Formation and Early Development

The Mapping Sciences Institute, Australia began life in 1952 as the Australian Institute of Cartographers. Although AIC was incorporated in Victoria, under Victorian law, it was a national organisation and achieved its growth through the establishment of “Divisions” in the States and Territories. The first of these was the Victorian Division (1953) followed by NSW (1954) and the ACT in the following year. Much later, when the Northern Territory Division began operating in 1985, the national coverage was complete. However, the Western Australia case was unique. Here, the Institute of Cartographers, Western Australia, had been formed in 1951 before the advent of the AIC and their amalgamation did not take place until 1970.

The Divisions operated to a large extent independently of each other, but the National Council, comprising representatives from all Divisions, met twice a year to determine policy.


A normal function of each Division was to distribute its own newsletter to its members, but as far back as 1954, the journal “Cartography” was issued nationally. This has continued to be produced uninterrupted until the present time, although its name was changed to “Journal of Spatial Science” in 2004.


Divisions showed considerable enterprise in arranging seminars, workshops and technical visits for the professional development of their members. Then, in 1974, the national Council sponsored the first of what was to become an unbroken program of biennial Australian Cartographic Conferences.

Involvement in the International Cartographic Association

Australia, represented by the AIC, was admitted as a member of the International Cartographic Association in 1964. Byrne Goodrick, of the ACT Division was elected as a Vice President in 1980 and Don Pearce of our Western Australian Division became its Secretary-Treasurer in 1984 and continued in this role for many years. Numerous other members have led or served on various Commissions and Working Groups.

The highlight of our involvement was the staging of the International Cartographic Conference in Perth in 1984.

More recently, our Professor William Cartwright held the position of ICA President from 2007 to 2011.

Interaction with Similar Organisations

The AIC always had a close relationship with the Institution of Surveyors, Australia, with many members having dual membership. The relationship culminated with the holding of a joint national conference in Canberra in 1982. We have also maintained close ties with the Australian Map Circle (now the Australian and New Zealand Map Society Inc) and recently with the International Map Industry Association. Joint national conferences have been conducted with both.

MSIA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute, pledging mutual support.

Name Change

With the aim of broadening the membership-base and to circumvent the perceived ambiguity of “cartography”, the name of the Institute was changed to “Mapping Sciences Institute, Australia” – in 1995.

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