The Institute of Actuaries of Australia has a heritage which dates back to 1897. In that year, the Actuarial Society of New South Wales was formed. The inaugural meeting of seventeen members took place in Sydney on 19 October 1897. Prior to this date, a handful of actuaries had been involved in helping establish and manage several important financial institutions in the colonies of New South Wales and Victoria.

Initially, actuaries served the public interest by helping to ensure the soundness of life insurance offices and friendly societies and acting as arbiters of equity in life company bonus distributions. Actuarial fields of activity broadened following World War II to include superannuation, investment and, from the 1970s, general insurance.

By 1919, actuaries resident in other States and New Zealand had joined the Actuarial Society of New South Wales and the name was changed to the Actuarial Society of Australasia. The Society published its first bulletin in 1945 and the first of the now biennial conventions was held in 1953.

Further name changes occurred up to 1963 when The Institute of Actuaries of Australia and New Zealand was incorporated. When New Zealand actuaries formed their own society in 1977, the name changed to The Institute of Actuaries of Australia.

The Institute was instrumental in the introduction of actuarial education at Macquarie University in 1968 and the introduction of Australian Fellowship examinations in 1980 meant Australian actuaries no longer needed to pass UK final examinations in order to qualify and it marked a new maturity for the actuarial profession in Australia.

Rebranded in 2011, the Actuaries Institute continues to represent and support its members and the actuarial profession.