Our History

NATA was established in 1947 following a conference on the coordination of testing services attended by representatives of all State and Federal governments in 1945. It is the world’s first and most experienced laboratory accreditation body whose role is to provide a national testing service to Australia and span all technical, industrial and geographical areas of the country. As such, NATA is the authority in the assurance of technical standards in Australia, and a leading authority on the world stage.

It is a founding member of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC) and the Asia Pacific Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (APLAC). APLAC has amalgamated with another regional accreditation cooperation, the Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (PAC); and on 1 January 2019 the Asia Pacific Accreditation Cooperation (APAC) was established. APAC includes many of Australia's principal trading partners in South East Asia, America and the Pacific, and like ILAC, does much to assist with the elimination of trade barriers related to testing in the region.

NATA’s means of operation, relying on a vast pool of volunteers who provide a 'peer-review' basis of accreditation, is still a key part of NATA’s structure. This approach, combined with the use of technical advisory committees and industry-derived evaluation criteria, helped ensure the future success and continued relevance of NATA to the present day.

The introduction of annual membership fees saw NATA take financial responsibility for its future, with government funding dropping from 100% of NATA income, to about 70 per cent by 1972. The figure now stands at little more than five per cent and funding is quarantined for international representational activities. In 1988, NATA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Commonwealth Government, which formally recognised NATA as Australia's national provider of laboratory accreditation services.

NATA’s growth during the 1980s included the establishment of branch offices to better service the needs of clients and the community, and NATA started comprehensive training programs for its assessors, laboratory managers and quality practitioners. NATA's training courses were popular both domestically and internationally and have since been further expanded to meet demand.

The international profile continued to grow strongly throughout the 90s and into the next decade with the establishment of several mutual recognition agreements, spurred on by NATA's active involvement in ILAC and the continuing use of NATA's training courses by overseas organisations.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s NATA was a world leader and introduced new accreditation programs including programs for pathology laboratories, veterinary testing laboratories and forensic science laboratories. NATA also led the way internationally introducing programs for medical imaging facilities and sleep disorders services.

NATA continues to grow and expand its range of accreditation and related activities and significant features of NATA’s activities in recent years have included:

  • The creation of a wholly owned subsidiary Proficiency Testing Australia in 2006;
  • Development of closer links with State and Territory governments to mirror NATA's relationship with the Commonwealth and to recognise their roles and needs as major stakeholders in NATA's activities;
  • Renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding with the Commonwealth and various State governments and.
  • The development of a corporate strategy 2019 - 2021 and a significant cultural change necessary to meet the demands of a changing marketplace

NATA’s history has been documented in two books which were written by NATA’s long-serving and highly respected staff members Keith Stanton and Paul Davies. These can be accessed through the links below: