Australian Federation of University Women

New South Wales

AFUW - NSW Incorporated is an association of women graduates from universities throughout the world



JUNE 2005

President's Message
AFUW – NSW Survey Results
  Comments From Surveys
  Survey Conclusions
A Message From The SAAP Co-Ordinator
The Margery Murray Fund
AFUW – NSW Awards
Annual General Meeting
Special Request To Members
33rd Triennial AFUW Conference
Sophia Holland Lecture
Another Aspect Of The IFUW Advocacy Network
Reports From Branches


I begin with a report of a most successful quarterly meeting of AFUW – NSW that took place in Armidale on 20 April, and of the social activities that accompanied it. It was splendid that so many of our members came—by train, car and aeroplane ¬ from Sydney and other parts of the state. The sun shone every day, and the autumn colours were stunning.

Members visited the New England Regional Art Museum, lunched in its café, and went on a guided tour of the Old Teachers’ College, now part of the University. In the evening a number attended a meeting of the Armidale and District Historical Society, and learnt of World War II defences, to the east along the Great Dividing Range, designed to impede an enemy advance from the sea. Excavation is in progress.

The following morning a number of members took the Heritage trolley bus tour of the city that concludes with a visit to the University campus, where all members were scheduled to lunch in the main dining room at Booloominbah.

Meanwhile, members of the Central Committee, and a number of observers, travelled to the University in the morning for a business meeting, that took place in the F.H. Letters Room in the Dixson Library. Prior to the meeting a number drank coffee or tea in the student cafeteria, and the comment was made ‘How nice it was to be on campus and mixing with university students’.

The business meeting went very well. The main items of General Business were discussion of the Survey of Members, which indicated that members valued intellectual presentations at meetings, fellowship, the opportunity to support Australian women students, and women students of other countries in this order. A more detailed report of the survey appears in this Newsletter.

Other matters discussed were the structure of the NSW organisation, and the need to increase membership. In the evening the Armidale Branch invited all visitors to its bi-monthly meeting in the Armidale Club in town. A staff reporter of the Armidale Express was present, and a full page of photographs with commentary appeared in the local newspaper. The meal was excellent, and an historian from the University gave a fascinating talk on Buddhism.

So successful was this excursion, that it was decided to hold the Annual General Meeting of the Branch for 2005 in Newcastle. This will take place on 15 October—see elsewhere for details—and I would urge as many people to attend as possible. At this meeting the Branch will need to consider the difficult issue of the Marjory Murray Room in the Mechanics’ Building in Pitt Street, whose lease expires shortly. Mary Kane, Ivy Edwards and I will meet with professional staff of the University of Sydney shortly to discuss financial issues related to this bequest.

Susan Davies


Earlier this year, AFUW-NSW sent its members, through the Presidents and Secretaries of the local branches, and in the Newsletter, a survey to complete. The purpose of the survey was to determine what members liked about AFUW-NSW, opinions of the state branch activities, and to look at new ways to fill the executive positions of AFUW-NSW. Approximately 26% (N=71) of the financial members associated with branches returned a completed survey and the distribution among local groups is as follows:
Branches % Branch Membership
% of Total Surveys
Armidale 8.5% 9.9%
Blue Mountains 3.3% 2.8%
Central Coast 6.7% 9.9%
Central West 15.9% 1.4%
Hunter 13.3% 14.1%
Inner West 5.9% 9.9%
North Shore 21.9% 26.8%
Northern Beaches 1.0% 1.4%
River 9.3% 4.2%
Southern Highlands 14.1% 14.1%
No branch   5.6%

Twenty-six per cent is a very good response rate for a survey with no follow-up cues. It demonstrates that people are interested in AFUW and want to contribute. With the exception of Central West and River, all branches were represented at a rate similar to their representation in AFUW-NSW. There is some level of confidence that the answers are representative of the whole membership in branches.

The results from the three questions follow:

1. Individuals were asked to rank the activities at the local branch (1 is most important, 2 next, etc.) that were more important in their decision to remain a member of AFUW. Answers were calculated for regional groups and groups from Sydney to test the often-heard opinion that certain activities were more important for one group or the other.

  Average Regional Sydney
Intellectual Presentations  1.6 1.5 1.7
Fellowship 1.9 1.7 2.4
Support Australian Students 2.9 3.0 2.7
Support Foreign Students 3.1 3.3 3.1

People join and continue membership in branches for the intellectual presentations. Fellowship is a higher priority for regional branches than Sydney branches.

2. Individuals were asked to rate AFUW-NSW Activities as to whether the activities should be maintained or can be terminated.

(Ranked 1 or 2 – Want to maintain, Ranked 3 or 4 - Can be terminated, Ranked 5 – Don’t know)

  Average Regional Sydney
AFUW/IFUW Membership 1.3 1.3 1.4
Newsletter 1.8 1.9 1.6
State Fellowships 1.8 1.9 1.6
Information on AFUW 1.8 1.9 1.6
Information on Women 1.9 1.8 2.1
Information on Education 1.9 1.7 2.0
Info. on Increasing Membership 2.0 2.0 1.9
Host Overseas Visitors 2.1 2.2 1.9
SAAP 2.4 2.5 2.2
Information on Peace 2.4 2.4 2.5
Information on Health 2.4 2.4 2.5
Club room/office 2.5 2.8 2.1

Answers averaging between 1 and 2 are services that people want to keep and think are valuable. Items rated 2.1 or more have less support. Many services with ratings in excess of 2 are not well known and received proportionately more 5 (No opinion) ratings. There were several comments to the effect that they didn’t know anything about the particular item. It is difficult to know if the survey completers don’t support these services or if they simply don’t know about them.

There are some noticeable differences between answers from regional vs. Sydney branches. State level activities – fellowships, the club/office room, SAAP, hosting overseas visitors – have less support in the regional areas than in Sydney. Again, this could be a lack of knowledge or it could be a real difference in what people expect from AFUW-NSW. There were comments that some of the items not favoured were provided by other groups – primarily information on peace, health, and the status of women – and that AFUW should not be duplicating those efforts.

3. At the last AGM, Armidale members ran for state offices because no members from the Sydney region were willing to run for the offices. To look at how these offices can be filled in the future, members were asked to rank option for filling the executive positions and develop other options. Members were asked to rank their highest option as 1, next is rated 2, and 3 is worst option, or any option could be ranked NA which mean wouldn’t accept it under any circumstances. (In calculating the answers, NA was given a 10 because of strength of the statement.)

  Average Regional Sydney
Positions roll between branches 4.75 4.5 5.1
No State level branch, only local 4.44 3.3 5.8
Duties distributed between branches 4.65 4.2 5.1

None of the options were supported enthusiastically. But the one most favoured abolishes the state branch and each local branch would be directly affiliated with AFUW.

These answers produced the most divergent ratings between the regional branches and the Sydney groups. Regional branches are more willing to look at changes in the current structure with far fewer NA (wouldn’t consider this change under any condition) answers and have shown a clear preference to eliminate the state-level branch and be directly affiliated with AFUW. Members of Sydney branches like none of the options but distribution of duties is least unfavourable. No one provided new suggestions about how to solve this problem, just variations on the options given.


There were a surprisingly large number of comments (approximately 80% of the comment section) about membership. This is obviously a widespread issue of concern. Comments on people not being members, yet participating in activities, to suggestions on how to attract new, young members were mentioned. Although the regional members are less concerned about this issue compared to Sydney branches’ members, it is a widespread problem.


The unique draw for AFUW local branches is the emphasis on intellectual presentations. Individuals become members and remain members for that purpose primarily. Surprisingly, supporting female students either in Australia or overseas was not as highly rated. If AFUW-NSW believes that one of its major purposes is to support female education, more work needs to be done to make this a goal of the state branch and all of the local groups.

The most highly valued activities that AFUW-NSW currently provides are mostly linked to education – association with and information about AFUW-NSW, the newsletter, scholarships, and information on education. Information on increasing membership and the status of women were also thought to be valuable. The reasons that some items rated lower may be because of a lack of communication about their purposes and successes. If these activities are to continue, it will be necessary to communicate more widely to all members about these activities.

There are AFUW-NSW convenors for the Status of Women, Peace, Health, Membership, SAAP, and Education. At the last Central Committee meeting of AFUW-NSW, the Central Committee approved a motion asking the convenors to consider submitting their reports to the newsletter. The purpose is to better inform the membership of what is occurring in these areas nationally and how that affects state activities and possibly local activities.

The last question wanted to ensure that future elections would have interested members running for the positions. These questions demonstrate very different opinions when analysed geographically. Regional members want to remain members of AFUW/IFUW but are willing to eliminate the state level branch. Sydney members feel that few changes are needed since they liked none of the options and had no new options to suggest.

Membership concerns are very prominent given the number of comments about it. Members suggested several policy items, as well as practical ideas to increase membership. This is an area that needs some sustained thought and resources.

In closing, the survey did highlight some issues for thought and consideration:

  1. AFUW-NSW is involved in several areas that much of the membership either is ignorant about or does not value. As the membership numbers shrink and the population ages, it is important to be providing what the members want and not what is required by AFUW/IFUW. The work of many of the convenors is not well known and needs to be “advertised” to the members.

    However, there is also a very strong theme that education and AFUW/IFUW are valued. Providing scholarships, being part of AFUW/IFUW, information on education and AFUW/IFUW, and scholarship fundraising are all areas that have support among the members. Supporting education, whether for oneself through intellectual presentations and reading information on the state of education or the status of women, or providing scholarships to other women are dear to the hearts of our members. Is AFUW-NSW supporting this core value enough?
  2. Many members are very concerned about membership declines. This takes many forms: younger members are not joining, inflexible meeting times, fewer people attending AFUW-NSW functions, and a general lack of interest in AFUW. Since the members do value AFUW, they are concerned that not enough is being done to let everyone know the benefits of becoming and remaining a member.

    The executive is looking at this issue and will ask some members who are interested in this topic to develop some ideas on how to increase membership. Many of the comments from the survey have very concrete ideas and thoughts on what is needed.
  3. The final question is how do we administer the state branch? Some hard questions need to be asked: is the state branch necessary? What is its contribution to the members’ enjoyment of AFUW-NSW? Is it mostly an administrative body or does it make significant policy decisions? If the Central Committee is found to be a necessary and required function, then how is it best structured? We have been experimenting with phone meetings; splitting the responsibilities between the Executive (administrative decisions) and the Central Committee (policy decisions).

The executive is looking at how to best run AFUW-NSW in the context of the decisions being made at the national and international level. At the national level, they are reviewing the structure for administering AFUW, including its relationship with the state branches. As the AFUW executive develops its ideas, AFUW-NSW also has to examine its functions and react to the national program. Additionally, IFUW is reviewing its organisational and financial structure, given a significant decrease in funding because the United States organisation has terminated its affiliation with IFUW. To date, few real changes have been reported.

Thank you all for completing surveys; you have most of all shown your support for AFUW-NSW and given the Executive and the Central Committee much to contemplate.

If you have other comments or wish to see the comments from the survey, please send your thoughts or request to or to the AFUW–NSW office at PO Box A2231, Sydney South 1235.

Stephanie Cunningham Secretary


The IFUW Study And Action Programme is now known as IFUW Programme for Action but we still have a SAAP Co-ordinator. She is former President, Gaynor Reeves, who has always been active in this area of interest in AFUW – NSW. The title for the current triennium is Women: Agents for Change with three phases to its outworking – Education, The Information Society and Human Security and Peace.

In addition to the various projects undertaken separately by our Branches AFUW – NSW has always encouraged Branches to support common project/s, such as the support for a Cambodian university student and the IFUW Bina Roy Fund.

Gaynor writes: Would all Branch Committees and Treasurers please remember SAAP in their budgeting and forward their annual SAAP contribution to the AFUW-NSW Treasurer? It is important that we continue to support women overseas in their educational need.”



Until I was thinking about standing for election to the Central Committee of AFUW NSW about a year ago I knew nothing about the Marjorie Murray Room and the bequest which funds it. As the lease of the room is due for renewal very shortly there has been a lot of discussion about the room and the bequest, and most of the people to whom I have spoken about it have the same lack of information about the bequest and the same mistaken ideas about it that I had until recently. So here are the facts, from Mrs Murray’s will.

Mrs Marjorie (not Margery) Murray was a graduate in Science of the University of Sydney. Mrs Murray died in 1971 and the Margery (sic) Murray Room opened in Challis House in Martin Place in 1974, when Mrs Thalia Elwell was President of AFUW NSW.


Mrs Murray left her “furniture pictures drawings prints carpets rugs mats wireless and television sets” firstly to the National Trust to choose what they wanted. After that the remainder was offered to AFUW NSW to select any items they would like. The remainder was to be sold and the proceeds added to the estate, or the “Trust Fund” as it now became.

From this Fund there were legacies to various individuals and organizations. The final item is

“(e) As to the rest of my Trust Fund for the University of Sydney.”

The next clause, Clause 6, deals with how the University is to apply that money. It is as follows:

“6. WITHOUT creating any trust binding on the said University it is my wish that the University will use my property bequeathed to it under Clause 5 hereof as follows:-

(a) To apply the same to the New South Wales Association of University Women Graduates for the establishment (or if already established for the enlarging of improving or replacement) of club rooms for the use of members of the Association in Sydney with the request that my own name and that of my mother Mrs. Sophia Holland B.A, a very early graduate of Sydney University, should be in some way associated with the activities or club rooms of that Association but

(b) If the New South Wales Association of University Women Graduates should not be in existence at the date of my death or should be unwilling to apply such moneys for the purposes abovementioned then to apply the same to provide services or amenities for women students with the wish that my own name and that of my mother Mrs. Sophia Holland B.A. should be in some way associated with such services and amenities.”

In summary, the money was left to the University of Sydney to administer and AFUW receives the interest for the costs of the Margery Murray Room, subject to the supervision of the University. Should AFUW no longer wish to continue with the MM Room, the University will get the money for the purposes stated.

The present capital value of the Bequest is $237,021.63 and the current annual interest is $11,851. This pays the rent and the salary of the clerical officer who is employed for two mornings a week. Other expenses are met from the budget of AFUW NSW.

Carol Quinn Vice President

Our other Vice- President, Ivy Edwards, writes:

We welcome Sue Ewin as the new AFUW-NSW Inc Clerical Officer. Sue was educated in Queensland and has worked for several years in Sydney.

She has had experience as a Receptionist, Secretary and Administration Assistant. Sue commenced work on 31 May 2005 and looks forward to meeting members.
Sue's interests include pottery, theatre, swimming and reading.

The previous office secretary, Karen Whitton, was farewelled on her last working day, 28 April 2005, by a group of office-bearers and members at a very enjoyable luncheon at the Old Vienna Coffee House, Queen Victoria Building. Guests spoke warmly of their appreciation of Karen’s assistance and friendship and a presentation was made. We were pleased to welcome back Dr Jan Milburn, a former President of AFUW – NSW, who appointed Karen to the position in 1998. Members have enviously been receiving very happy emails from Karen sharing her current travels in North America.



From a very prestigious candidature, the Education Trust has selected SUSAN COULSON for the award in 2005. Susan graduated with a B Appl Sc ( Physiotherapy) from Sydney University M Appl Sc (Exercise and Sports) and is enrolled in a PhD in Physiotherapy which she expects to finish in 2005.

She has worked in her field both in Australia and the UK.

Her area of research is in using physiotherapy techniques in the treatment of facial nerve paralysis, a field in which she is the Australian specialist and in which she is achieving an international reputation. She will use the award to study and collaborate on the complex treatment of patients with facial nerve paralysis at Raboud Universityn Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands in February 2006 and attend the International Facial Nerve Symposium in Maastricht in The Netherlands.


The Education Trust has selected three graduands for these awards.

KATHERINE BARRY who will graduate from Macquarie with BSc Biology (Hons1) in Animal Behavior. She has achieved no less than Distinction throughout her course. There is already a .publication and a paper submitted to the Australasian Society for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Katherine has taught Zimbabwe Primary school children and raised money for their school as well as community activities in Sydney.

ALEXANDRA LEWIS will graduate BA English (Hons1 and University Medal) and has no less than Distinction in her academic record. She has been accepted for PhD studies at Cambridge in her field of trauma, fear and violence against females in Victorian Literature. Alexandra was active in student affairs, captained the Fencing Team and has volunteered with Rotary in a wide variety of community activities.

JOANNE SHEEHAN will graduate B Psych (Hons1) from Macquarie University. Her research topic is of high importance in an untapped area - psychosocial needs and outcomes of women undergoing breast reconstruction following surgery for breast cancer. Joanne is interested in Music therapy and has supported children from disadvantaged backgrounds at the Nono Nagle camp in Campbelltown and taught English at Camp Korea in South Korea.

As usual, selecting these young women was a challenging but enjoyable experience.

A morning tea has been arranged for members to meet and congratulate this year's Tempe Mann and Jamieson awards winners. This function will be held in the Margery Murray Room at 280 Pitt Street, Sydney, on Wednesday 22nd June at 10.30 a.m. There will be a nominal charge of $5 to defray expenses.

Could you please advise Shirley Manion (9481 8438 or if, despite the short notice, you are able to attend?

The University of Sydney has notified AFUW that the Tish Proctor Memorial Prize for the most proficient woman student in first year government is Stephanie Ellen Harmon. It will be awarded on 8th June, 2005.

The University’s School of English, Art History, Film and Media advised that The AFUW NSW Prize for academic work in 2004 has been awarded to Alys Moody and is to be presented on 19 May.

The University of New South Wales Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Award - the Australian Federation of University Women-NSW prize was awarded to Susan McIntosh.

Beverley Pavey, North Shore Branch’s representative on the Central Committee represented AFUW – NSW at a Prize Night on 26 April in the Io Myers Theatre on campus when more than 50 prizes were distributed.

In a letter of appreciation Susan McIntosh, from Cobbitty, thanked Mrs Pavey for attending and presenting the award:

“I am writing to you to express my appreciation to the Australian Federation of University Women for the NSW prize in the School of English. It was a wonderful and utter surprise to me, a somewhat academically rusty mother of two, to receive such an honour…it has left me buoyant with elation. I cannot tell you how great an encouragement this Award is to my studies.”


All members are advised that the Annual General Meeting and Luncheon will take place on Saturday 15 October, 2005, 11:00 am at the Capri Plaza Hotel, Cnr King and Steel Sts, Newcastle.

Lunch & Speaker: 12.30 - 2pm will be followed by a Central Committee meeting, 2 to 3pm.

Cost: $40.00 Morning tea and wine can be purchased in the restaurant.

Nearest rail station is Civic Station - a map will be forwarded to all people who register for the AGM and require one.

The fast train to Newcastle on a weekend is 7.21am ex Central and 7.55 ex Hornsby arriving at Newcastle at 9.54.
Further details will be given in the Annual Report in September.

The Speaker: Margaret Winn who has worked with Community Aid Abroad in the Third World.

Nominations for elected positions and notices of motions should be in the hands of the Secretary
by the appropriate date. Only financial members will be eligible to vote.

Inquiries:   Administrative matters: Stephanie Cunningham Secretary 6775 1941
Social matters: Hilary Alexander President, Hunter Branch 4942 3440


Subscriptions for the membership year, 2005– 2006, are now due.

The appropriate renewal form is enclosed.

All a subscriptions should be paid by 31st August, 2005.

AFUW – NSW records have been transferred this year to a new computer database. To check its accuracy it will greatly assist us if members will carefully fill in all the relevant details on the form.

In future members may request to have their Newsletter sent to them via email.

If you would like to do so, please complete the appropriate question on the renewal form and print very clearly the email address to which you want it sent.



AFUW-ACT extends an invitation to AFUW members and partners to attend the 33rd Triennial Conference to be held in Canberra 21-24 April, 2006.

The conference is the supreme policy authority of AFUW, so is an important part in the life of our organisation as members have the opportunity to come together to express their points of view on a range of policy and administrative matters. There will also be ample opportunity to network with old and new friends and listen to a range of stimulating speakers.

The conference will include two days of business meetings (Friday 21 and Monday 24 April) and, on the intervening weekend, two Public Days of talks given by several distinguished women to which attendees and the general public are invited. The theme of the conference is “The Role of Women in Peacekeeping”. It encompasses a peacekeeping role connected with both military and domestic violence and a response to natural disasters.

In keeping with the conference theme, the Conference Dinner will be held in Anzac Hall at the Australian War Memorial. Preceding dinner, there will be a specially designed tour of the War Memorial collection for us.

Canberra is a city of natural beauty and many attractions. The city is home to the Australian Parliament, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Museum of Australia, the Australian Institute of Sport, the Australian War Memorial, Australian Botanic Gardens and three universities - the Australian National University and the University of Canberra and the Australian Catholic University. We invite visitors to sample the many restaurants, enjoy a walk around Lake Burley Griffin and visit the many galleries and exhibitions on display. Nearby are several wineries where visitors can sample the district’s award winning wines.

You are encouraged to stay an extra night and celebrate Anzac Day with Canberrans. Activities include the Dawn Service, the Anzac Parade and wreath laying ceremony at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Australian War Memorial. Over 20,000 attended the Dawn Service this year, a very moving occasion.

More details will be provided in Graduate Women. For those of you with internet access, you may like to look at the AFUW site for information on the conference and other matters at

Rosemary Everett


The annual Sophia Holland Luncheon and Lecture took place on 21st May. 31 AFUW members and guests met in the beautiful surroundings of the University of Sydney’s Women’s College. The location itself was interesting, both for former residents to inspect new developments and for those unfamiliar with the College to view the Sulman and Power building. The Principal of the College, Mrs Yvonne Rate, kindly joined us for the event.

After champagne cocktails, a delicious and hearty lunch and a good deal of catching up with each other, we settled back to listen to our guest speaker, Ebru Yaman, editor of “The Australian” newspaper’s Higher Education Supplement. Ebru told us something of how she came to reach her present position. Her parents were among the early wave of Turkish migrants to come to Australia. Ebru felt she stood out in the schools she attended, because of the combination of her background, the fact that she spoke English (as did her family at home), and although her family came from a Moslem country they did not practise any religion.

Upon leaving school Ebru entered and then abandoned higher education. Eventually she discovered what she had been meant to do, a course in Creative Writing at Victoria College, and this led her into journalism.

Ebru did not visit Turkey and meet her extended family until 1996, when she had a child of her own. Her children speak a little Turkish, but it is difficult to fit language lessons into their lives, particularly as Ebru’s husband is not from a Turkish background.

The discussion which followed Ebru’s talk showed how strongly AFUW’s members feel about the changes to the higher education scene in Australia. Those who rose to their feet mentioned the decrease in funding to universities, the proposed introduction of voluntary student unionism, the comparison of the funding of sport with that of education, and the diminution of private donations and bequests to higher education. Our speaker offered no comfort, saying that she thought the funding scheme proposed by the present government would result in “the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer”.

We have to thank our functions organiser, Ivy Edwards, for arranging such a stimulating and satisfactory event: good food, good wine, good conversation. Ivy was gleeful in reminding us that this was her last function as organiser; the rest of us cannot be as cheerful at that prospect!

Carol Quinn


EDUCATION is the first platform in the new programme, Women: Agents for Change of the IFUW Programme for Action. Its document states that quality education should establish policies that:

  • Create secure learning environments that respect human rights and cultural diversity
  • Provide educational opportunities for all
  • Advance all forms of literacy; numeracy, media, legal, economic and information technology
  • Ensure gender equity at all levels of education
  • Promote the benefits and inclusion of all in the information society

In AFUW Inc Education is one of our standing committees of which the current convenor is Dr Jennifer Strauss. The Education Committee implements education-related resolutions from triennial conferences, prepares submissions in response to government inquiries and raises with relative federal ministers and departments matters of concern to AFUW.

Each state/territory should have a representative on this committee whose role is to facilitate state action on resolutions, provide input to submissions and monitor concerns within her own state.

During 2004 Merle Thompson acted in the role of NSW’s Representative on the Education Committee and has recently assumed this role more fully. She presented to the Armidale meeting a report of the committee’s activities over recent months. The report relates to three significant areas of interest:

1. Indigenous Education

The final Report on Indigenous Education, prepared by Erica Jolly of SA, was received in 2004 by Federal Council and the Education Convenor, Jennifer Strauss, prepared a plan of action. The plan recommended actions to be undertaken by S/TAs.

  • S/TAs, through their Education Committee representatives, should monitor developments in Indigenous Education and, where appropriate, lobby State government departments and institutions if matters of concern arise, or refer issues to the Education Convener and the AFUW President if Federal funding were involved. To date I have not become aware of any specific problems.
  • Re Universities. In 2003 a letter had been sent to the Deans of Education faculties/ schools of each university. It was requested that the Presidents of S/TAs should approach the Vice-Chancellors of each university in their state as a follow up from this earlier action.

Where a response had been received, the STA was asked to write again, thanking the University for its response and asking an additional question regarding their actions in relation to Indigenous education to support the fulfilment of the inclusive emphasis of New Learning: The Charter for Australian Education, published by the Australian Council of the Deans of Schools of Education. Only the University of Sydney and the University of Technology, Sydney were in this category. Letters were sent in October. Sydney University requested a copy of the Jolly report but did not provide additional information. No response has been received from UTS.

For universities where no response had been received in 2003, Vice-Chancellors were to receive the request for information originally made in the Letter to Deans, along with the additional question as above. It was decided to send this letter to both the Vice-Chancellors and Deans. Responses have been received from the majority of universities.

A table summarising the responses was prepared and provided to the NSW Central Committee. It shows a great diversity among universities in NSW in relation to each of the issues raised in the first letter, namely,

  • the degree to which they are supporting the maintenance of Indigenous languages and bilingual education programs;
  • whether they have specific programs for training Indigenous students as teacher-aides and teachers;
  • whether, and in what ways, their programs prepare all teachers to work with Indigenous students in pre-tertiary situations.

The majority had positive comments of proposed actions in relation to Indigenous education within the context of the New Learning: The Charter for Australian Education.

  • Re State Governments: As AFUW NSW had not sought the information from the State Departments of Education, as requested in 2003, a letter was sent to the Director General and a response has been received. This led to the Department requesting a copy of Erica’s report, as did some universities; Dr Strauss has provided these.
  • NSW was also asked to follow up on the State review of Aboriginal Education. My attempts to contact former colleagues who were involved in undertaking the review have so far been unsuccessful. More work is needed on this issue. It was not mentioned in the Department’s letter.

2. Review of Teacher Education

The Review is being undertaken under the auspices of the federal House of Representatives. Submissions were to address a series of questions and it was requested that these be related to research. AFUW was not in a position to undertake research on the wider issues but, as the report on Indigenous Education involves research undertaken by AFUW, Dr Strauss prepared a submission on this specific aspect of teacher education.

In 2000 I had been involved in a consultancy when NSW had a similar review. I provided the President and Dr Strauss with a paper of key issues and one of principles for teacher education which assisted in broadening AFUW’s submission.

3. Ministerial Discussion Paper on Universities

In the Newsletter I outlined the issues in the Department of Education, Science and Training’s Building Diversity enquiry and requested input from members to assist in preparing a NSW response. In the absence of such input I prepared comments on the discussion paper and provided material for inclusion in the AFUW submission. The Committee is very concerned about some of the issues in the discussion paper, particularly the proposal to remove the requirement that an institution must be involved in both teaching and research in order to use the term ‘university’.

Merle has also provided us with a report on Education Presentations at the Armidale Visit

Following the Central Committee meeting and lunch in the wonderful surrounds of Booloominbah, the White family pastoral mansion which provided accommodation for the early students of the University, members were treated to two presentations by PhD students of UNE who are working under the supervision of our President, Dr Susan Davies.

The first was by Jiantao Zhang who initially came to Australia when her husband gained a scholarship for post-graduate study. Her research is on the Beijing Institute of Education and the Chinese Teacher Retraining System. In learning of the progress of this system we also gained insight into Chinese history as we heard of the suspension of the system for the period of the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1977.

It is hard for an Australian to comprehend the size of the system as (in 2000 figures) there are 10m primary and secondary teachers – equivalent to half our population; well over 200m students and 251 Institutes of Education conducting teacher training. I recall that it used to be said that the NSW Department of Education was the largest bureaucracy in the southern hemisphere and it pales into insignificance in the comparison.

An impressive change is the increase in the proportion of teachers who are trained over the period from 1977 to 2000. In primary schools this increased from 47.1% to 96.99%, in junior secondary from 9.8% to 87.1%.

The Teacher Retraining System uses the definition: "Teacher education for in-service teachers is designed to enhance the professional quality and educational capacity of teachers who have already received a teaching certificate and are currently employed as teachers". ("The Decision Regarding Reform and Development of Adult Education" issued by the Education committee of the P.R. China in 1987)

Some of the Basic Features were impressive:

  • Teacher education for in-service teachers is a life-long process and compulsory.
  • All new teachers must undergo no less than 120 working hours before they become formal teachers.
  • Formal teachers are required to be retrained for a minimum of 240_working hours every five years
  • Teacher education for in-service teachers is a large-scale program throughout the whole nation.

The other presentation was by Robyn Hanstock, who is in the early stages of her research into the role of women in adult and community education. It is apparent that women were not given senior roles in this sector, or were not given credit. A previous history does not mention any women. We will be interested to hear more of her work in the future.


UNESCO is one of the organisations committed to the promotion of women’s education with which IFUW has regular representation and the opportunity to play a part in its decision making. IFUW President Griselda Kenyon attended an NGO consultation on Higher Education in Paris with the regular Paris IFUW representatives and sets down one or two useful points emerging from conversations:

Are NFAs making contact with their regional UNESCO groups? The head of regional developments in UNESCO thought there were areas where they and IFUW could work together. Can our NFA presidents take this further?

The second thing came from the Association of Commonwealth Universities. Dr. Jonathan Jenkins, who is head of awards, told me that he was having trouble meeting his equality targets because not enough women were applying for awards! So, for those of you in Commonwealth Countries, here is an opportunity!



We appreciate the efforts of our Convenor for International Relations, Christine Hosking, for teasing out information from the more recent IFUW reports on the internet.

UN Commission on the Status of Women – 49th Session –in New York in March

The report was presented by IFUW President, Griselda Kenyon. Ten members represented IFUW at the Commission from the US, Canada, Europe, and Bangladesh. There were at least 20 other IFUW members representing other organizations from all over the world.

“CSW was very overcrowded this year, as a lot of people were interested in the ten year review of the Platform of Action from Beijing and its five year follow-up; so there was very restricted access to the Government meetings. It was possible to follow the proceedings on closed circuit television… direct contact with delegates and access to copies of interesting speeches were almost impossible. Some governments had regular contact with their NGOs, others made very little effort.

The document reaffirming the Beijing process and asking for further action was issued, but agreement on it was held up for a week by the US insistence that it include an anti-abortion sentence. This successfully diverted attention from efforts to make the statement stronger about action for implementation, so at the end of the week, when the US gave way on the abortion statement, which would never have been agreed anyway, a very weak document was agreed, which was of course what the US wanted.”

“Of interest at the CSW meetings are the frequent parallels between the official resolutions of the CSW and IFUW policy, both past policy and most recent resolutions. We do draw attention constantly in our policy statements, the ever present and unresolved issues which contribute to persistent inequality for women. For example one CSW resolution (2005) concerned Economic Advancement of Women: our 2004 resolution is entitled Women in Decision Making Positions in World Financial Institutions. Another CSW resolution concerned Reduction of Demand for Trafficking: a concern we addresses in Commercial Exploitation of Women. A third from CSW concerned Mainstreaming a Gender Perspective into National Policies and Programmes which is a component of our resolution Women Essential to Peace.”

Contributions from first time attendees at the Commission on the Status of Women included:

Linda Hiebert Sekiguchi

A culture of peace must exist in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals) and fully implement the Beijing Platform for Action. Previous to the informative NGO consultation session, which laid out the issues of the Commission meetings, I had not understood the relationship between peace and the environment. However, this interdependence was soon apparent to me when I heard women speaking about the devastation of war, contamination of water sources, pollution left from military bases and troop presence, environmental degradation of refugee camps, and massive rebuilding efforts after conflict.

At the UN, women's involvement in securing peace and conflict resolution is viewed in the context of Security Council Resolution 1325 which, since October 2002, has been translated into 65 languages. At one NGO session, "Launching of the Peace Map," women's groups from all regions pinned flags on a world map and reported about their local initiatives for involvement at the peace table and in post-conflict situations. African women in particular have been assertive in securing some stability for their societies. For example, in Somalia the women created a sixth clan; Irish women first learned of Resolution 1325 at last year's CSW and returned home to fight for women's representation on the national reconciliation committee and local peacekeeping commissions. Israeli and Palestinian women are negotiating side by side, bolstered by the strength of Resolution 1325, for the inclusion of Palestinian and Israeli women in peace talks.

For me it was an honour to meet personally two women Nobel laureates, Wangari Maathai of Kenya who began her environmental movement by involving women in planting trees. This effort blossomed into a variety of regional development programs and became the impetus for the establishment of UNIFEM. Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala continues to advocate for indigenous women. With leadership from outstanding women like these and the efforts of the worldwide NGO community to implement Resolution. 1325, women are moving closer to equality, benefiting from development efforts, and creating viable models for sustained peace and security.

Shaila Mistry

Attending the 49th Session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women was an amazing experience of High Panels and workshops and other informal discussion groups. In addition to noting, recording and analyzing the proceedings before me, my purpose was to contribute in as many settings as possible. Observing the many intricacies of the balance of power at national and at personal level was very valuable. It was my privilege to be able to speak to many young people and become part of shaping a world that might be more conducive to their needs and requirements.

High Panels

It was interesting to observe the balance of power of nations both in interaction of world leaders as well as the critical interaction that was taking place in the corridors and meeting rooms of the United Nations. I conscientiously followed three themes firstly, the Mechanisms of Decision making and how these were being introduced and implemented into the infrastructure of each nation state. Secondly, the in-depth discussion of CEDAW, Beijing 10, MDG's and the linkages which was an education for me. Thirdly, economic security of women, with several member states recognizing the importance of trade and entrepreneurship and the role women have always played in the family and state economy.

Youth Perspectives

Much was presented at the High Panels and at Workshops particularly on gender equity and for the first time the importance of inclusion of working with men and boys I seized all opportunities to enter into discussion with the young from a diversity of nations and cultures, learning of similar and opposing philosophical views. They were focused and articulate in their mission to participate actively at all the different levels of the Commission. Despite the disparate cultures and background they hailed from, their common purpose was for greater peace .Other common themes included a desire to be included at all levels of decision-making, to determine their own future, freedom to live their lives, reproductive choice, a desire to improve what is good and denounce what is bad, intergenerational understanding.

The opportunity to attend was a privilege and the grand finale was to have my comments on the youth perspectives videotaped for future presentation to the General Assembly. The experience has given greater understanding of other cultures, peoples and political demagogy from a point of global vantage that was truly amazing. I thank IFUW for this privilege.



At our meeting in February Fran Karberry of Uralla gave a passionate address that touched many members’ hearts, about “our kids” Romanian Orphans. The orphanage is located at “the black hole” at Seuuret. Fran has travelled there for many years, and is obviously very committed to giving support to the somewhat depressed and isolated community. She informed us that the Bishop of Birmingham set up the Romanian Challenge Appeal, and his congregation have been find raising for the small community to assist in rebuilding the institution, providing necessary food, clothing, toys, books and schooling for several years.

Fran expressed frustration with the lack of social responsibility and financial support from Australian companies operating in Romania.

Fran described the living conditions at the orphanage and the very difficult political and economic environment in which the orphanage struggles to operate. When the European Parliament started to give attention to the orphanage in response to televised fund raising by the Irish singer, Daniel O’Donnell, it was closed.

After much advocacy it was allowed to reopen. Fran advised that the goal for the orphanage is sustainability, and hence a farm has been established to provide the children with financial support and training in agriculture, farming and mechanics. Summer and winter crops are rotated in an effort to gain domestic self-reliance and operational effectiveness.

In view of the impending membership of Romania to the European Parliament in 2007, the Romanian Government has released funding for teacher education and curriculum development and a new pressed roof. Fran’s talk engendered a strong sentimental reaction from the members, with an acknowledgement of what a remarkable country Australia is in terms of its provision and opportunities.

We were delighted to welcome twenty four visitors from the Blue Mountains, Hunter and Sydney metropolitan branches to our April meeting.

The Guest Speaker was Dr Denis Wright who is a senior Lecturer in the School of Classics, History and Religion, at the University of New England. His field is Asian Cultural History, with particular reference to Indian and South East Asian History and Islam. His topic for the evening was ‘Buddhism’. Denis emphasized the practical nature of Buddhism, which he described as being ideal for “skeptics and philosophical vagabonds”. Buddhism is often misrepresented, as it has been overlaid with beliefs drawn from mythology (multiple gods etc.), but this was not the original intention.

Buddhism arose in the sixth century BC and is founded on a number of propositions based on rational, dispassionate analysis. Buddha was objective about humanity and was not trying to analyse the world in terms of theology: for Buddha, there was no “god” in the sky. Under the caste system, the Brahmins were in control and claimed to be able to intercede on behalf of the people. The idea of an intermediary was unappealing to Buddha, who wanted to give people control over their own destiny; he believed in individual responsibility not blind faith.

Genuine happiness is obtainable in the world through recognition of Four Noble Truths. The failure to recognize transience is the cause of suffering — the First Noble Truth - which is a natural part of life. The cause of suffering - the Second Noble Truth - is related to desire. Materialism and the inability to be satisfied affects everyone from the highest to the least. The Third Noble Truth is related to the ego, the failure to realise that suffering can cease - all is Maya, illusion. Suffering is caused by ignorance and lack of ”mindfulness”; the Fourth Noble Truth indicates the path from suffering to contentment via acceptance of the human condition. The guide to acceptance is set out in the Eightfold Path. Understanding leads to “Right Action”, stilling the mind through meditation, a mental and physical discipline resulting in “mindfulness”.

Buddha did not conceive of himself as a god and was against idolatry. Buddhism is a religion of the here and now with loving kindness the aim. The karmic law of cause and effect is inexorable: action cannot be undone. We are responsible for our own behaviour and there is no absolution. Ultimate and unending calm is obtainable when all cravings for existence or extinction cease. Thus we attain Nirvana.


A most enjoyable Autumn Luncheon was held at the Greenwich Sailing Club on Thursday 17th March. Despite wet weather 50 people attended and were entertained by our speaker, Mr Paul Brunton, the Chief Archivist at the State Library. Paul has recently published his edited work on the letters of Miles Franklin. He talked to us about her fascinating life in USA and London as well as here in Sydney: then read excerpts from her diaries. What a treat!

Our Branch plans to hold a Raffle at each function and to specifically donate raffle earnings to the Virginia Gildersleeve Fund. We managed $100 this time.

We extend a warm welcome to all members to attend our Spring Luncheon in September, when we will have as our speaker, the biographer Jacqueline Kent who will speak about her published biography of Beatrice Davis (Angus and Robertson) and her work-in-progress on Hepzibah Menuhin.


We followed our March meeting, when Sarah Elliott told us of her experiences in Sierra Leone with MSF, with a talk by Lisa Stadtmueller, a Georgina Sweet Fellow of IFUW, on May 23rd. Lisa created a first for our meetings at Burwood RSL arriving with projector, screen and laptop and with fascinating pictures of electron-microsopy of clay particles in polymers that alter the compounds to make more effective materials for dental restoration - the practical application of nanotechnology.

She has an infectious enthusiasm for chemistry and how lucky the Sydney University students she has been teaching have been! She may stay in Sydney or may head to a small town near Yosemite National Park where she will write lots of papers while her husband leads a church.

Our AGM will be on July 25th at Burwood RSL when Jill Collier Principal of Sydney Secondary College Blackwattle Bay Campus will talk to us about this addition to secondary education in the Inner West


The Armidale branch deserve every accolade for the time and effort they put into organising the various functions for the April meeting. President, Ivy Edwards, and Secretary, Teresa Valenti, had a wonderful time networking with various new (to us) members of the AFUW as well as meeting up with old friends. Armidale itself was beautiful although unseasonably warm! From Tram Tours of Armidale, visits to the Art Gallery, which houses a major collection of iconic Australian Art, to wide ranging talks from WWII Tank Traps and Buddhism, as well as an impromptu lesson on the art of campanology everything went like clockwork. It was well worth the long train journey although we did keep ourselves amused with cards and conversation. As the trip was so successful, we are looking forward to attending more of the AFUW functions at Newcastle and the Central Coast.

The Branch is continuing to award various scholarships in its members’ local community. Awards were recently given to two female students at Meadowbank TAFE. Both women are now in their first year at University studying Speech Pathology and Animal Science respectively. The certificates and cheques were handed over at the Awards Night by our President, Ivy Edwards, who reported a very enjoyable evening and a dedicated Staff totally committed to enabling their students.

In May, members of the Branch attended a talk by Sheila Bruhn nee Allan on her experiences as a prisoner of war in Changi Gaol during WWII. It was a very personal account of a young girl surviving in the midst of hardship and adversity. Sheila is now approaching 80 and remembers the detail vividly. On exhibition was one of the famous quilts made by the prisoners, the "Changi Girl Guide Quilt".

Made from tiny scraps of whatever material was available, including rice sacks, the quilt is a striking monument to their creativity and ingenuity. Sheila stated that the tolerance, humour and camaraderie she encountered in these conditions helped her to survive. The History Channel has made a moving documentary with Sheila and some of the other survivors called "Sayonara Changi". It is not for general showing but Sheila has offered it on loan. It may be possible to organise a showing of the documentary later in the year. We will advise any interested members.

We plan to have a welcoming lunch for Hilary Roche who is visiting Sydney briefly in July from Trinity College, Dublin. Hilary has recently completed a M.Sc. in Education and Training Management and is now working as Director for NCCA, the body that advises the Irish Minister for Education and Science on matters relating to curriculum and assessment. A lunch and debate on educational standards at the Bennelong Restaurant in the Opera House is being organised. It is hoped the iconic view and stimulating conversation will leave our visitor with a lasting impression. As well as members of other branches we hope that the Irish Consul General will attend.

Northern Beaches members have agreed that all meetings will usually be on the third Thursday of every month at interesting venues in the City. These times are not set in concrete and if a meeting coincides with an interesting lecture or music recital we prefer to adjust. Members wishing to join us please ring Ivy or Teresa.


Our speaker in March was Ron Evans, a foundation member of the Hunter Geological Society. With a BA from Newcastle University in Biology and Geology, Ron, now retired, taught in High Schools for more than forty years. His talk was about plate tectonics, earthquakes, volcanoes and of recent events, Tsunamis (Japanese for “harbour wave”). He first brought his audience up to speed with a power point presentation on basic geology.

The Tsunami on 26 December, 2004, began at a depth of 30 km. It was actually three earthquakes that made up the tsunami. It was magnitude 9 and was called a megathrust earthquake equal to 200 million tones of TNT. It shifted the earth’s axis by 2.5 cm and changed the position of Nicobar and Andaman Islands forever.

Geologists have calculated that there has been no significant earthquake in that area since 1883. Since the Australian/Indian plates are moving north-east at the rate of 6 cm per year, other earthquake activity is expected in the future in that area.

As regards the 1989 Newcastle earthquake, its epicenter was at Munibung and caused most damage in the swampy areas of Newcastle – the L or surface waves. Members and guests then discussed their personal experiences of this phenomenon.

Margaret Ellis was our most engaging after dinner speaker in April. She is currently working at the Newcastle Permanent Building Society as the Head of the Marketing Division and was responsible that week for a’ new look’ advertising campaign on television. Margaret has a B.A. and an M.B.A. She has spent some 14/15 years overseas prior to the Newcastle appointment in Thailand, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Beijing. As well as giving us an idea of the many marketing challenges in each country, she told us about the positive, wonderful, mind-expanding cultural experiences she had.

Margaret grew up in Adelaide where her family still lives. She likens Newcastle as comparable in size and enjoys living here. She is responsible for all marketing, product development, sponsorships, advertising, internal and external communications plus media relations of the building society. Margaret has recently been appointed to the Newcastle Regional Art Gallery Foundation Board.

Thailand was a good posting for a foreign woman as Thai women can occupy positions in the upper echelons of business- presidents of banks etc. However, Japan is a much more complex society. Here, as head of Loreal products, Margaret had a staff of men who had to report to a foreign woman. As a contradiction in terms, employees would be absolutely polite in the day and yet blatantly honest at night. The next day, back to the polite society. Margaret considered herself an outsider in Tokyo yet spoke about advertising in Japan having the Zen characteristics of simplicity, understated value and the importance of white space.

In Beijing, what you saw is not what you got — the Office of Propaganda changes government rules overnight whilst the Political Officer asks constantly what you think. Emails are checked, mail is opened but the first Friday of the month in the Australian Embassy, 640 Australians gathered to eat pies and to converse in English.

Initially in her after dinner talk, Margaret spoke about the symbol of the Phoenix- symbol of goodness. In each of the positions that she has held in Asia, she has tried to pave the way with goodwill so that the next person, albeit a woman, could have an easier time. She said that everyone makes choices – we need to make the choice that is good us – at that time!

Julie Ainsworth. was our speaker in May. Her topic was Management, Motivation and Mentoring. Julie is a dynamic person who spoke from the heart. In these days of economic rationalism , it was a breath of fresh air to have Julie remind us of the fact that PEOPLE actually perform all the tasks that make up the product of the Newcastle Herald- the fastest growing regional daily in the world (increased circulation by 23% in 6 years). Julie is the General Manager of the local Newcastle Herald — the first women general manager in 147 years.

Julie doesn’t have a degree- except from the ‘University Of Life’. She started at the Herald 31 years ago, has worked at 16 different jobs and never applied for any of them. She said she has asked questions and learnt how to do the job more efficiently and has then been asked by management to take on a more demanding role. So she has the experience and the overall wisdom to produce a top product. In the male dominated world of newspapers, Julie chooses the best person for the job- not the token female, but looks at the mix of male/female in each area of the newspaper to produce the best product.

The main thrust of her talk was the mentoring - the main factor in her success. She also encourages young people in the community as well as young members of staff. When they feel worthwhile, they contribute exponentially and both the quality of their work and their self esteem are enhanced. Too often people are ‘blockers’ and kill the spirit of those who want to go forward.

Julie concluded her talk by some anecdotal evidence of how the staff now own the product and YES, she is responsible for the paper going out on time. When there was a problem with the presses, Julie personally went to work to man the phones, put a full page apology in the paper saying she was SORRY -signed by herself and the editor. The Newcastle Herald has become not just a product.... but part of people’s lives.


Professor Brian Fletcher (Emeritus Professor of Australian History, University of Sydney) was the guest speaker at the Autumn Lunch Meeting. Professor Fletcher is at present writing the history of the Mitchell Library so he was able to talk to us with a great deal of authority and much enthusiasm. Although some aspects of the Library have been chronicled since its inception in 1907 there has never been a systematic history. What has been written in the past has been done by librarians and what Professor Fletcher hopes to bring to his history is his own experience as a reader.

David Scott Mitchell was a great benefactor, perhaps the greatest the State of N.S.W. has seen. He was the son of a wealthy surgeon and had a very privileged upbringing. He was one of the first batch of graduates from the University of Sydney and though called to the bar he never practised. He had always been a collector of books and after the death of his parents he became a recluse. His passion for collecting increased and his interest turned to Australiana. In October 1898 he bequeathed his collection to the Public Library of New South Wales.

The government of the day passed the necessary legislation for the Board of Trustees of the Public Library to become trustees of this collection but did not immediately comply with Mitchell’s stipulation that it be suitably housed in a separate wing of the Public Library.

It was only when Mitchell was approaching death and there was a rumour that he might hand over the collection to the Fisher Library at the University of Sydney that the government acted. A special wing on the newly constructed Public Library in Macquarie Street was set aside for his collection to be designated the Mitchell Wing. Mitchell died on July 24, 1907 but did not see the completion of the building.

In 1988, when the Public Library (by then renamed the State Library) was enlarged, the Mitchell Library was able to move into a much more spacious area. Mitchell had stipulated that the library was to operate under similar conditions as the British Museum Library - that it be available only to those who could demonstrate their use of it was for scholarly purposes.

The staff of the Mitchell Library through the years has mainly consisted of women graduates. This was the cheaper way to go as women were paid lower salaries than male librarians. J.C.L. Anderson, one of the earlier State Librarians, formed the policy that copies of every work published in Australia, no matter how insignificant, should be deposited with the Mitchell Library. Thus it became, not just a state, but a national collection. Members of staff were sent on overseas collecting trips, especially to Great Britain, with the express purpose of buying Australiana.

What are the links between the Library and the community? Professor Fletcher thinks that the collection reflects the changes that have occurred in Australian society over the years. Earlier last century the Library had a very British flavour. It was still a very elitist institution, the preserve of a select few. However, even in these early days it did reveal that Australian history was of great interest and importance to the community at large.

As time has gone by, the Library has reflected changing community interests. Since World War IT this has been seen in a great increase in staff numbers and in the fact that there is no longer a closed access policy. Readership is no longer restricted to an elite group of scholars. It is now open and welcoming. As Professor Fletcher put it “it is not an institution but a living organism”. He hopes to be able to do justice to this concept in his completed history which is to be ready by 2007, the centenary of the Library. He certainly made it come alive to us.


President Christine Garner writes: “Many cities inform arriving visitors of their population and elevation, as well as the local community’s claim to fame. While travelling in the western states of the U.S.A, I remember being amused by one city’s claim of 362 rain free days every year. It seems that we are closely approaching a similar statistic. Its use as a tourist attraction, however, still fails to connect with my perceived view of a holiday destination. A little rain is sometimes all that is needed to give us a new lease of life.”

At our dinner meeting in March, Mr Robert Clark presented an overview of the achievements to date of the Sydney Harbour Trust and the proposals for further work to be completed before several foreshore properties are handed back to the people of NSW. We were fascinated by the historical detail collected, archived, and used to redevelop the sites. The vision for these developments to become part of our public space and a vibrant tourist trade, while maintaining the historical integrity of the original function of the sites is a huge undertaking.

The many local committees and volunteers associated with each site must be given credit for their work in providing man hours and commitment to completing the redevelopments and their lobbying of government to keep the project on track. We look forward to being able to visit the sites in the future and absorb some of the history surrounding them, while enjoying the amazing vista that is our Sydney Harbour.

At our recent committee meeting the scholarship sub-committee outlined the updated application form and selection criteria for our post graduate scholarship, valued at $4000. Applications will close on 30 September, 2005. The recipient will be publicly announced at our dinner meeting early in 2006. Applications can be obtained by contacting Dr Lois Foster on 6341 1408 or e-mail:

At our next dinner meeting on Dr Louise Baker will be our speaker. Dr Baker is involved in the education of rural general practitioners and will speak to us of her teaching role in this scheme. Her experiences as a woman, mother, and practicing rural GP create a complex tapestry that has led her on a career path that now sees her travelling interstate to conduct workshops for young rural doctors.


Members were greatly saddened in April by the death of a loyal member and friend, Marion Brockman, at age of eighty-eight. Her lively literary appreciation and keen wit will be greatly missed, especially in our Book discussions.

At our May meeting, before following the powerpoint presentation about the Virginia Gildersleeve Fund, we paid tribute to Marion who was the embodiment of “life-long learning”. She came to Canberra from her much loved England with two young sons when her husband, Ron, was appointed to Mount Stromlo observatory and she later took on a clerical position there. She graduated to university secretarial work in Canberra, then later in Sydney, spending some years as a professorial secretary at UNSW.

On retirement Marion commenced external studies at UNE, graduating first BA in literature at the age of 74, then a Post graduate diploma in Social science. She was a practical, logical person yet she loved theatre, music and drama and wrote entertaining poetry for her grandchildren and in time their children, with whom she had great rapport to the end.

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