The Congress was opened on 19 April 2001 by Dr Michael Wooldridge MP, the Australian Minister for Health and Aged Care.
Her Excellency, Dr Marie Bashir AO, a member of the Medical Women's Society of New South Wales, officially opened the scientific sessions of the Congress on 21 April 2001.
Dr Michael Wooldridge has been Australia’s Minister for Health since 1996. He has brought to this role particular commitments to public health, immunisation and biomedical research. His work has already been widely recognised both within Australia and overseas.
In 1998, Dr Wooldridge was admitted as a Honorary Fellow of the Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine, the first politician from any political party to be honoured in this way.
In 1997, Dr Wooldridge was invited to be Chairman of the World Health Organisation’s Western Pacific and East Asian Region and, in 1998, he was appointed global chair of the United Nations Agency U.N.-AIDS.
Prior to entering Parliament in 1987, Dr Wooldridge worked as a trainee in surgery at Melbourne's Alfred Hospital and practised locally as a GP.
Dr Wooldridge attended Monash and Melbourne Universities and holds degrees in Science, Medicine and a Masters degree in Business Administration.
In Parliament, Dr Wooldridge has pursued a wide range of social policy issues and has held a diverse range of Shadow Ministries including Aboriginal Affairs, Education, Employment and Training and Community Services, Senior Citizens and Aged Care.
He has also held senior positions in the Liberal Party, including the Deputy Leadership of the Opposition from 1993 to 1994. Following the March 1996 election, Dr Wooldridge was appointed to Cabinet as Minister for Health and Family Services, a portfolio he retained after the 1998 election under the revised name of Health and Aged Care. He is also a member of the Cabinet Expenditure Review Committee and chairs the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Biotechnology.
He is married to Shelly and has two young sons.