The idea of APRS was born in 1989 when some Australians attended an IAPR sponsored meeting in Finland and had discussions with IAPR member organisations. That same year, Prof Mike Duff from University College London (who was IAPR secretary at the time) was invited speaker at an IREE conference on Image Processing in Canberra. He encouraged the formation of an Australian Pattern Recognition body as there was such interest in the area here.

The society was launched at a Special Interest Group meeting at Monash University in February 1990, as part of the Australian Computer Science Conference. A constitution was drafted that month and about 40 initial members were recruited, most in Victoria and Melbourne. By 1991 the society had almost doubled in numbers and the first national conference, DICTA-91, was held in Melbourne in December 1991. The following year, State branches were introduced so that local meetings could be organised, and these currently operate in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. Other states have nominated representatives as contact persons for APRS liaison.

Since 1991, specialist workshops and national conferences have been held in alternate years: DICTA-93 in Sydney, DICTA-95 in Brisbane, DICTA-97 in Auckland, ICPR-98 in Brisbane, DICTA-99 in Perth, and DICTA-02 in Melbourne. Limited numbers of conference proceedings are still available for purchase. Past workshops have covered Commercialisation of Image Processing Research, Spatial Data Manipulation, and Colour Image Analysis/Visualization.

The APRS produces a newsletter approximately quarterly which is distributed with the IAPR world newsletter. Members enjoy discounts at technical meetings sponsored by APRS and regular meetings organised by State branches. Total membership has now reached nearly 200.