In 1985 the treatment of sleep apnea took a great leap forward with the development of CPAP for home use. There were two sleep support groups in Australia at that time. In NSW, the Sleep Apnea Research Association (SARA) was formed with the support of the Sleep Disorders Unit of Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, and in South Australia, Apnea Incorporated was formed with the assistance of the Royal Adelaide Hospital Sleep Clinic. Activities included seminars and awareness programs, information distributed via brochures and telephone enquiries, regular newsletter production and small fundraising events.
By 1994 sleep apnea support groups had started in Victoria, Queensland, Tasmania and the ACT. In November 1994, a meeting was held in Sydney with representatives from all the groups. At this meeting, it was unanimously agreed to form a national group with the name Sleep Disorders Australia (SDA).
SDA Branch Committees in all states now act primarily to assist the members in the same way they did in 1985, through awareness programs, information distribution, newsletter production and fundraising events. Sleep apnea education and awareness programs have been put together, and talks are delivered by all state groups. Information now includes other sleep disorders, such as Insomnia, Narcolepsy, Idiopathic Hypersomnia and Restless Legs Syndrome.
All branches agree, however, that there is much more SDA can and should do on behalf of its members. Issues include federal and state lobbying for assistance to sufferers, education programs for patients and relatives, self-help groups to assist with problems, and occupational health and safety awareness for employers in relation to sleep disorders.