Paediatrics & Child Health Division

The Paediatrics & Child Health Division represents 5,400 Fellows and trainees of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP). We aim to improve the health and wellbeing of neonates, infants and children as well as adolescents and young adults (known as young people) through education and training, research, and policy and advocacy.

We advocate on behalf of our members and are committed to promoting the study of paediatric medicine by encouraging excellence in skills, expertise and ethical standards through training and professional development.

The Division promotes the health and wellbeing of neonates, children and young people, with a focus on:

  • Health promotion
  • Managing disease relating to growth and development
  • Palliative care
  • Social impacts on health
  • Protection, development and behaviour, and public health
  • The rights of a children and young people

The Paediatrics & Child Health Division is governed by an Executive, Council and a number of Committees.

The Division includes the Chapter of Community Child Health.

What is 'Paediatrics & Child Health'?

Paediatrics & Child Health is a branch of medicine focussed on the health and medical care of neonates (birth to four weeks) to children of 17 years of age.

Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine is an upcoming medical specialty with a focus on the health and care of young people aged 10 – 24 years.

Training in Paediatrics & Child Health

There are a number of training options in Paediatrics & Child Health.

Find out more about Paediatrics & Child Health Division programs:

Latest news on Paediatrics & Child Health

Read the latest news and communiqués from the Division.

Get involved

You can get involved in the Division and connect with other Paediatric Medicine Fellows and Trainees in a number of ways:


The Presidential Medallion

Description and meaning of the Coat of Arms

PCHD Medal

The central shield is divided by a chevron. The red and white checks indicate the colours of the surgeons’ bandages. In the lower area is a mother breastfeeding an infant, indicating the unity of mother and child in paediatrics and shared responsibility with the obstetrician. In the upper area are two herbs, fennel and dill, of great antiquity in paediatric medicine. The shield has a border of ermine, as in the arms of Australia, to indicate the College as a federal body and the states bound together in unity.

Above this is a 'helm close', as granted to corporate bodies, and above this again the crest shows a black swan standing on its nest, defending its young, holding a gold staff of Asclepios keeping illness at bay. The swan is a national bird, found in every state and one of the supporters of the arms of the City of Canberra, where most early College meetings were held. Around the swan’s neck is a silver seven-pointed star as in the Australian flag, a point for each state.

The supporters represent the earliest authors of paediatric works. Thomas Phaer (also Phayer, Phair), MP, scholar and physician (circa 1535) wrote The Boke of Chyldren, the first paediatric text in English. Felix Wurtz was the second of three generations of surgeons of the same name and wrote Der Practice Wund-Artzney, the first text on paediatric surgery, as an appendix to a German edition of Hortus Sanitatis (circa 1550). Each is dressed in the robes appropriate to his profession, time and place – Thomas holds a copy of his book and Felix a fleam (a medieval form of surgeon’s scalpel).

The motto 'Qualis Surculus Talis Arbor' was created for this coat of arms, with the original idea being 'as the twig is bent the tree will grow', suggesting genetics, nutrition, obstetric care, orthopaedics etc. This was clumsy in direct Latin translation – after careful consideration it was suggested the motto should be officially translated as follows: 'As is the twig, so is the tree.'

History of the Coat of Arms

The current Paediatrics & Child Health Division Presidential Medallion depicts the Coat of Arms of the Australian College of Paediatrics (the 'College'), which amalgamated with the Royal Australian College of Physicians in 1999, becoming the Paediatrics & Child Health Division.

In 1962, Dr Peter Jones, a member of the then Australian Paediatric Association, had suggested that a coat of arms should be developed for use in formal correspondence. He took the lead on this project, corresponding with the College of Heralds in England to complete the design and have it formally approved, and by 1964 it was adopted and in regular use by the time the Association became the Australian College of Paediatrics in 1978.

We are grateful to Dr Jones for his enthusiastic contribution and for supplying this detailed information that explains the design and heraldic meaning of the various components of the coat of arms.

In 1978, the Presidential Medallion was struck bearing the image of the coat of arms. To this day, it is still worn by the RACP Paediatrics & Child Health Division President during formal proceedings, such as the convocation of new paediatric RACP Fellows.

For further information, see 'A History of the Australian College of Paediatrics', 1950 to 1980, by D G Hamilton. A copy can be found in the RACP History of Medicine Library.


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