Past times: ASOPA Feed

After 80 years, is this ASOPA’s last stand?

ASOPA 2004
One of the ASOPA classrooms as it was in 2004


NOOSA – It looks like the heritage of Australian School of Pacific Administration, ASOPA, will be bulldozed in the NSW government’s enthusiasm to monetise and commercialise the valuable public land at Middle Head in Sydney where it once stood.

More than any other institution in the years after World War II, ASOPA provided the personnel that accelerated Papua New Guinea’s road from a colony to an independent nation.

Continue reading "After 80 years, is this ASOPA’s last stand?" »

Concerns about plans for old ASOPA / ITI site

Middle Head Café
Middle Head Café


NOOSA – Sydney’s Harbour Trust has just released its draft master plan for the Middle Head site in Mosman that was once home to the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) and the International Training Institute (ITI).

Both establishments played a significant role in the development of Papua New Guinea – ASOPA, best known for training patrol officers (kiaps) and education officers, and ITI for its short (three month) courses for middle managers from developing countries.

Continue reading "Concerns about plans for old ASOPA / ITI site" »

ASOPA: A history which deserves to be told


SYDNEY - In its day the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) was an important institution, as was the International Training Institute (ITI) which succeeded it.

ASOPA was established after World War II as a place where ‘the right type of people’ could be trained for post-war work in the colonial administration of Papua and New Guinea, later adding teacher training to its functions.

As part of my post-graduate research writing a history of ASOPA, I am compiling the histories of people who were involved in any capacity, whether as staff or trainees.

Continue reading "ASOPA: A history which deserves to be told" »

When Sir John told kiaps 'we don’t want you'



GOLD COAST - Henry Thoreau (1817–62) wrote: “If a man does not keep pace with his companions it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”I was once a kiap and from my experience, kiaps mostly were those types who, if they lasted longer than the first couple of years in the service of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, did march to a different drum.

Continue reading "When Sir John told kiaps 'we don’t want you'" »

10 Years in the morgue: Alf Conlon, John Kerr’s first dismissal

John Kerr
John Kerr was to become a controversial figure in Australian politics when, as governor-general, he dismissed prime minister Gough Whitlam


This article was first published in PNG Attitude on 19 September 2007

NOOSA - As regular readers will know, PNG Attitude has been pursuing the story of Alf Conlon, the erratic genius who conceived the idea of the Australian School of Pacific Administration, ASOPA, and then engineered it into existence.

The saga of Alf Conlon's departure from the School is told in John Kerr's 1978 autobiography, ‘Matters for Judgment’.

When he returned to the Sydney bar from ASOPA in 1948, Kerr had handed his principalship of the School to Conlon, who began a losing battle with Canberra over making ASOPA a research-oriented colonial training college with the status of a university.

Conlon, a reclusive figure, also began battling his ASOPA colleagues, who had begun to resent his lack of collaboration and isolationist behaviour.

Continue reading "10 Years in the morgue: Alf Conlon, John Kerr’s first dismissal" »

War experts discover secret jungle road on Kokoda Track

Matthew Kelly and John SterenbergSTAFF REPORTER | Northern Territory News

WAR experts have made a stunning discovery along the Kokoda Track — a secret jungle road built by the Japanese.

Australian archaeologists found ‘Jap Road’, as the locals call it, while unearthing the mysteries of the ‘lost battlefield’ of Etoa.

It is invisible from the air due to the impenetrable tree canopy, as is another pathway dubbed the ‘Jap Track’.

The battleground, where up to 70 undiscovered bodies still lie, is a treasure trove for officials investigating the Kokoda Campaign, which began 75 years ago this weekend and was part of Australia’s first genuine fight for survival — the brutal World War Two conflict in Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "War experts discover secret jungle road on Kokoda Track" »

Strong turnout for ASOPA – but support still needed

Honourable Paul MunroPAUL MUNRO

PNGAA representatives were pleased by the turnout and level of support shown at last Sunday's open day at part of the site of the former Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) on Sydney’s Middle Head.

Fine weather and a good cross-section of people with Papua New Guinea connections attended, about 75 in all, including former students, PNG Consul General Sumasy Singin and representatives of the Wantok Club, Chinese Catholic Association, Friends of Rambutso and various NGOs.

It was a good beginning and a great show of interested support for the proposal to use Ten Terminal as a Community Centre for Pacific Nations, although winning through against some tough competition will be a long haul.

During Keith Jackson's presidency some years ago, the PNGAA made an attempt to promote a similar proposition which failed to gain the critical mass necessary to obtain official support.

Continue reading "Strong turnout for ASOPA – but support still needed" »

Don’t forget Sunday's important open day at the old ASOPA site


THE Open Day at the former Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) on Sunday 22 May – organised by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust – will provide a great opportunity for people with a Papua New Guinea connection to look over the old site and also hear about options for its future.

During the Open Day, which will run from 10am to 2pm, representatives of the PNG Association of Australia will be present (look out for them) to welcome you and discuss the PNGAA’s ideas for the establishment of a Centre for Pacific Nations.

This would be a place to actively engage the community and comprise a library, a living history centre -where PNG and Pacific memorabilia can be displayed - and a venue where talks, writers and artists workshops and other activities could take place.

Continue reading "Don’t forget Sunday's important open day at the old ASOPA site" »

PNGAA needs your support to establish centre for Pacific nations


THE Papua New Guinea Association of Australia is pressing for a splendid project that would transmute the former Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) buildings at Middle Head in Sydney into a Community Centre for Pacific Nations.

To introduce the idea to the community and take it forward, the PNGAA will hold an open day at the site next Sunday 22 May between 10am and 2pm and it’s looking for support.

“The project aims to engage our community of Australians and Papua New Guineans with a suitable living, interactive, tribute in the form of a Papua New Guinea-Australia centre - a focal point for the PNG-Australia relationship,” says Andrea Williams, PNGAA president.

“ASOPA had a foundational linkage of military and civil engagement in securing, planning for and developing Papua New Guinea for nationhood and its direct successors became the dominant institutional presence in the precinct for 51 years until the AusAID Centre for Pacific Development and Training was abolished in 1998.”

Continue reading "PNGAA needs your support to establish centre for Pacific nations" »

ASOPA under threat: Help preserve Australia’s PNG connection


YOU may not have heard that there’s a campaign being run in Sydney to prevent the heritage-declared Ten Terminal building at Middle Head being leased for the commercial development of an aged care home.

The Ten Terminal building was built in 1941, one of only two brick buildings of the army in World War II, and is immediately adjacent to the equally important old ASOPA heritage site.

As many readers would know, ASOPA (Australian School of Pacific Administration) has a very close association with Papua New Guinea.

Continue reading "ASOPA under threat: Help preserve Australia’s PNG connection" »

Looking for relatives of the formidable Frank Boisen


I AM FORMERLY OF RABAUL and was the first Papua New Guinean student that the celebrated PNG colonial educator Frank Boisen took under his wing in the 1950s.

Through his efforts I became the first Papua New Guinean student to come to Australia to complete high school (1954-56) eventually gaining acceptance into the 1958-59 ASOPA teacher training program.

I am now in my 77th year and have almost completed my autobiography, essentially for my five grandchildren who are all Australian-born.

Former District Education Officer Frank Boisen was quite obviously a big part of my life and, although unfortunately my memory isn't as clear now as it was, I would like to acknowledge what he did for me.

As a young man, after Mrs Boisen died, I spent much of my time driving the Boisen's children (Arthur and Margaret) to school in his red car and helping his children's carer with whatever requirements there were.

I would be most grateful if any reader might be able to let me know the names of Frank Boisen’s last daughter and even recall the lady who was his children's carer.

My regret now is that I do not know the Boisen children's whereabouts.

Perhaps a reader could direct me in the right way to this information

Readers can reply through the Comments link below or email Harry Coehn here. We’d also like to hear some Frank Boisen stories….

The chalkie mob that triggered the start of PNG Attitude


Dubbo Dave Kesby - 1964THE ASOPA CLASS OF 1962-63 gathers in Canberra today, 50 years on, for three days of reuniting, reminiscence and solidarity.

It’s the fifth time in the last 10 years that this group of former cadet education officers has got together.

Each time the ranks thin: this week we’ll miss ‘Dubbo’ Dave Kesby [pictured as a young ASOPA graduate soon after arriving in PNG], Bill Bergen, Dave Argent and Bill Wilson. All fine men.

When the first reunion was mooted early in 2002, I committed to producing a newsletter to stimulate a bit of interest. So was born Vintage, which morphed into ASOPA People, that became a blog of the same name which later transformed into PNG Attitude.

At each step in this process, the scope of what we did expanded until we have the website as it exists today.

ASOPA, for those unfamiliar with the acronym, was the Australian School of Pacific Administration – a very important Australian-based institution in the colonial history of Papua New Guinea.

The ASOPA story is both compelling and unusual – you can read all about it here.

But back to the Class of 1962-63. Later today 36 people, including 25 of the original 58 students, one of whom was me, will convene at a haunt called the Tradies Club in the Canberra suburb of Woden.

Unlike back in 2002, when they had remained unmet for 40 years, most of them will recognise each other.

StreetsignFor three days they will catch up with each other’s recent histories, reflect on times and people past, compare medical conditions, chat and laugh a lot, probably have a bit too much to drink, and once more enjoy their shared company.

The Canberra-based organisers, who have developed a fine program but have no control over the weather, are Ian Mclean, Bob Davis and Geoff Chapman.

It will be a grand time.

Old Asopians converge on San Juan for lunch


Lunch in San Juan

SO THERE WE WERE, anchored in our yacht Arita in the Spanish Virgin Islands, just to the east of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, when we get this email.

It’s from ex-Asopian, Denis Murrell, to say that another ex-Asopian, Keith Parker, will shortly be visiting San Juan, accompanying his wife, Professor Parlo Singh, to an international education conference.

We catch the ferry to the mainland, rent a car and race to San Juan to meet up with Keith, who I haven't seen or spoken to in 45 years. You might say, "So, what's the rush?"

We hug, backslap, nostalgise (is that a word? – Ed) and adjoin to a nice Italian restaurant for lunch.

There’s a lady at the next table. Who Parlo introduces as Dr Juliana McLaughlin from Manus Island, now a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology.

Juliana and her colleague, Dr Christine Fox, join our table and Christine mentions "Oh, I used to work at ASOPA".

Wel,l what's the chance of having three ex-Asopians sitting at the same table on the other side of the world in the company of a wonderful lady from Manus?

San Juan is probably as far away from PNG as you can get.

Photo (left to right): Lauren & Rob Dehaan, Juliana McLaughlin, Keith Parker, Parlo Singh, Christine Fox

The No1 Short Course farewell dinner, 31 May 1945


No 1 Short Course Farewell Dinner

THEY SEEM like a group of somber – not to mention sober – young men at Canberra’s Land Headquarters School of Civil Affairs.  And the ladies are not nurses, they're waitresses.

The men in uniform had completed their training and soon would be bound for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, as Australia began the process of restoring civil administration in the closing months of World War II.

But a simple dinner menu and program provided to us by former District Commissioner Bill Brown MBE belies the rather stern appearance of these young kiaps.

I’ll get to that in a moment, but first a bit of history.

On 11 February 1942, with the Japanese already well entrenched in New Guinea, civil government in the Territory was suspended and the Cadet Patrol Officer training scheme managed by Sydney University ceased.

In 1944, Lt Col Alf Conlon, the Australian Army’s Director of Research and Civil Affairs, was appointed to head a new School of Civil Affairs to train service personnel in the art and skills of colonial administration in TPNG.

By 1945, the School was established at Royal Military College at Duntroon in Canberra, where the photograph above was taken.

On that first ‘short course’, the staff outnumbered the students 47-40; Alf Conlon was nothing if not an empire builder of rare talent.

In the following year, the School of Civil Affairs changed its name to the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) and, in 1947, it moved to temporary premises in two Quonset huts at George’s Heights and then to Middle Head in Sydney – where the training of young kiaps, and later young teachers, continued apace.

And now, here are those pieces de resistance…. 

Continue reading "The No1 Short Course farewell dinner, 31 May 1945" »

ASOPA – the Class of '62-'63 reunites....

This weekend, just shy of 49 years on, the Class of 1962-63, Cadet Education Officers, Australian School of Pacific Administration, regroups in Sydney to mark its coming together and to reflect on the circumstances that motivated these young men and women to train to teach in what was then the Territory of Papua and New Guinea.  KEITH JACKSON reprises the history of ASOPA

SO THIS IS MIDDLE HEAD. A succession of winding plateaus and spurs culminates in a jutting headland pointing to the open sea between Sydney Heads. The stratified sandstone slopes are steep, having been cracked, warped and uplifted over millions of years.

The headland overlooks the flooded river valleys of Sydney and Middle Harbours and offers sweeping views of bush and water. The shoreline is a rich aquatic habitat. The bushland mostly confined to the steep slopes.

The area provides a rich record of Australia’s heritage, including Aboriginal culture. Middens and stone engravings provide evidence of Aboriginal life prior to 1788.

Bungaree’s Farm, Governor Macquarie’s experiment in introducing Aborigines to the settled ways of European agriculture, was sited on the peninsula.

The main theme of the colonial heritage, defence, reflects the concerns of an isolated colony. There has been a defence association with this land since a fort was constructed near Obelisk Beach in 1801.

There is a profusion of heritage buildings on Middle Head. The 1870s fortifications of gun batteries and buildings, particularly James Barnet’s barracks, are places of great significance.

Other important groups of buildings include the Submarine Miners Depot at Chowder Bay (1890–1), the World War I Military Hospital buildings (1916–22), the World War 2 Barracks converted to the School of Pacific Administration in 1949 and the Army School of Intelligence (late 1950s).

In 1945, General Sir Thomas Blamey had given approval for the Australian Army to established a School of Civil Affairs in the grounds of Duntroon Military College to train officers for the Australian New Guinea Administrative Unit.

In March 1946, the School became a civil institution and was renamed The Australian School of Pacific Administration. It was transferred first to Mosman and later to Middle Head.

ASOPA was given statutory recognition under the Papua New Guinea Act in 1949 and continued to function as a responsibility of the Minister for External Territories until 1 December 1973.

At this time the Australian Government decided to integrate ASOPA into the structure of the Australian Development Assistance Agency (later AIDAB, then AusAID) under the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the International Training Institute came into existence.

Another functional shift – and change in name to Centre for Pacific Development and Training - saw the former ASOPA used as a base for consultants operating in the South Pacific region until this role was disestablished in 2001

The old ASOPA is now heritage listed, the old buildings have been refurbished and this historically rich enclave awaits another, this time perhaps a commercial, life.

ASOPA: School died while still under review

25 Years of ASOPA Long-time registrar of the Australian School of Pacific Administration, VIC PARKINSON, who died this week, wrote this article to mark the 25th anniversary of ASOPA's foundation in 1972

THE CONCEPT OF the Australian School of Pacific Administration was the brainchild of Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Conlon.

As Director of the Australian Army Land Headquarters Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs, he convinced the Commander-in-Chief, Sir Thomas Blamey, of the need for a school to train officers to undertake civil government functions in the areas of Papua and New Guinea recaptured from the Japanese.

Early in 1945, with General Blamey's approval, Colonel Conlon proceeded to establish what was known as the Land Headquarters School of Civil Affairs, in building in the grounds of the Royal Military College, Duntroon.

Colonel JK Murray, who later became the first postwar Administrator of Papua and New Guinea, was appointed Chief Instructor and a highly qualified academic staff was quickly assembled.

Dr HIP Hogbin MA PhD, Dr RO Piddington and the Honorable Camilla Wedgwood MA - three anthropologists with established reputations for scholarship in this field - were appointed to the full time staff with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Dr John Andrews, Professor of Geography at the University of Melbourne, also joined the staff as a Lieutenant Colonel to lecture in geography. Dr Lucy Mair, Reader in Colonial Administration at London University, was brought out from England under contract to lecture at the School.

Lecturing in law was done by Lieutenant Colonel JP Fry MA BCL SjurD, who later compiled the first ten volumes of the Annotated Laws of Papua and the Territory of New Guinea.

In addition to this highly qualified staff of lecturers, six full time tutors were appointed, one of whom was Captain JP McAuley, now Professor of English at the University of Tasmania and one of Australia's outstanding poets.

In those early days the school's training program was designed on the basis of each lecture being followed by a tutorial.

Students were selected to attend the School from the ranks of the Australian Army and Air Force and included the following officers still serving with the Administration of Papua New Guinea: Harry West, Director, Division of District Administration within the Department of the Administrator; Kingsley Jackson, District Commissioner; Bill Johnson, Assistant Secretary, Civil Defence; Don Grove, Director of Lands; Keith Dyer, Principal Projects Officer, Department of the Administrator; Des Clifton Bassett, District Commissioner at Madang; Eric Flower, Works Coordinator, Department of the Treasury; and Fred Kaad, former District Commissioner, and now on the staff of the School.

In May 1945, General Blamey approved an amount of £10,000 being allocated for the construction of permanent premises for the School in the ACT. This was further evidence of Colonel Conlon's influence on General Blamey.

Colonel Conlon clearly perceived an important post-war role for the School as a centre of training and research for the whole South Pacific area, and gained General Blamey's support for his long-range plan.

Although a site for the School was selected within the grounds of the proposed Australian National University, events were to conspire against the project proceeding.

The School was moved to Holsworthy at the end of 1945, and it was not until the early 1950s that the proposal to establish the school in Canberra was again seriously sponsored by the then Minister for Territories, Mr Paul Hasluck.

When the school's military role came to an end with the defeat of Japan, Alfred Conlon set about the task of persuading Mr Eddie Ward, the first post-war Minister for Territories, to ensure its continuance as a civil institution to train administrative officers for the Administration of Papua and New Guinea.

Largely as a result of his efforts, in March 1946, the School became a civil institution under the name of The Australian School of Pacific Administration, and was transferred to Georges Heights, Mosman.

There, and later at Middle Head, the School operated provisionally until 12 April 1947, when the Federal Cabinet approved its permanent establishment.

ASOPA was given statutory recognition in 1949 by the Papua and New Guinea Act 1919-1971.

Mr JR Kerr, the present Chief Justice of New South Wales, was appointed the first Principal of the newly constituted School. He was followed by Mr AA Conlon (August 1948 – September 1949), Mr CD Rowley (November 1950 - March 1964), Mr JR Mattes (March 1964-December 1971), and the present Principal, Mr JP Reynolds.

In the post-war years the School's training responsibilities were extended to include the training of welfare officers for the Northern Territory and teacher-training, as well as its original commitment to train patrol officers for Papua and New Guinea.

Conceived in the prevailing uncertainty of the war years, ASOPA has battled on hopefully through the post war years, to an assured future that has so far eluded it.

When its epitaph is finally written it will surely contain the words - "to the memory of an institution that passed away while its future role was under periodic review."

Source: ‘ASOPA in war and peace’ in ’25 Years of ASOPA’. Geoff Leaver (editor), Australian School of Pacific Administration, 1972

Vic Parkinson, ASOPA registrar, dies at 93


Parkinson_VicSMH - IT WAS AN awful thing for Mosman Council when a group of visiting New Guineans became a bit raskolish on Friday nights in the early 1960s and started tearing up shrubs on the nature strips.

The council could have come down very heavily but decided to call on someone who had real insight into the people, Victor Parkinson.

At the end of World War II, Parkinson had joined the Australian School of Pacific Administration, run from Middle Head, to train teachers and patrol officers, including one Michael Somare.

He had started as a law tutor and taken over the position of registrar. Parkinson found the riotous lads were students at the school. He packed them into a vehicle, took them off and settled them down.

Parkinson took his civic spirit with him when he became the mayor of Mosman from 1965 until 1970, making him the council's second-longest serving mayor.

In World War II, Parkinson had joined the army education unit and served in Queensland and the Northern Territory. At the end of the war he joined the School of Pacific Administration.

In the early 1960s, Parkinson became interested in local government and was elected to Mosman Council in December, 1962. He became the mayor in 1965 and also joined the council of the National Trust.

He was committed to preserving historic buildings and extended that interest to trying to regulate development in the area, though powerful interests were arrayed against him.

In 1975 Parkinson and his wife retired and bought a property, Gowan Green, near Wellington in central western NSW.

Victor Parkinson is survived by Marjorie, his children John and Lindy, daughter-in-law Karen, eight grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Read the full obituary here

Source: ‘A thorough gentleman with a dedication to preserving history’ by Malcolm Brown, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 September 2010

ASOPA’s flame flickers weakly, but never dies


LATE LAST year the Australian Association for the Advancement of Pacific Studies (AAAPS) published A National Strategy for the Study of the Pacific - designed to improve Australia’s understanding and engagement with the region.

The report lays out a blueprint for more effectively developing regional relationships, and one of its key recommendations is to create an Australia-Papua New Guinea Institute. (You can see the report in its entirety here.)

The Institute wouldn’t be the Australian School of Pacific Administration, or the International Training Institute, so ruthlessly killed off by AusAID’s predecessor, but it would maintain the same spirit of intelligent engagement.

An annex to the report, authored by Prof Clive Moore of Queensland University and me, gives more detailed consideration to this matter. Here’s an extract…


TOO OFTEN, it seems Australia dispatches to the Pacific personnel who are under-prepared for their role.

The contributions these people make to national public services are frequently ineffective and may leave a residue of resentment amongst nationals whose high expectations were unrequited.

On the other hand, anecdotal evidence suggests that many Pacific Islands public servants, although equipped with a university degree, find difficulty in operating efficiently because an ‘idealised’ education in developed countries has not equipped them appropriately for the realities they face back home.

The foregoing examples all point to a ‘strategic imbalance’ in the relationship between Australia and Pacific islands nations at the point at which planning transforms into delivery.

This imbalance derives from a mismatch between the intentions and expectations of development aid and the realities of its implementation.

From 1947-73 the Australian Government operated the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA) at Mosman in Sydney. ASOPA’s main function was to train Australian patrol and education officers to work in Australian territories, primarily Papua New Guinea and the Northern Territory.

A core attribute of then training was to equip these young Australians for the precise cultural and physical environment in which they would have to deliver the desired public policy outcomes.

In 1973, with independence looming in PNG, ASOPA was integrated into the structure of the Australian Development Assistance Agency/Bureau as the International Training Institute.

It trained people, generally at the level of middle management, from developing nations in the Pacific, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean, generally in three-month programs in areas such as human resource management, industrial relations, health administration, communications development, educational administration etc. ITI was disestablished in 2001.

Conclusions of current relevance that can be derived from the cases of ASOPA and ITI are that specific training is needed to equip professionals to engage knowledgeably with the cultural and social environments in which they will be operating in the Pacific and that there is a beneficial effect when comparative country experience is brought to the training process by participants themselves.

There needs to be role equalization between sponsors and participants to avoid any suggestion of paternalism (top-down direction or “we’re helping you” intimations).

Great benefits occur from facilitated dialogue (including expert contributions) among people of influence in their own countries interacting, addressing issues and sharing knowledge with people of influence from other countries.

Read the full paper here.

A short history of the ASOPA site

Sydney Harbour National Trust

Students The onset of World War 2 prompted another round of construction work on the military land at Middle Head. The golf course was resumed in 1940, with the army deciding to retain the clubhouse as two married quarters.

In 1941 buildings were constructed to temporarily house the Anti-Aircraft and Fortress Engineering School (the 10 Terminal Regiment site) and the Army’s Signal Unit (the ASOPA buildings).

On 13 August 1941 the Federal Government established the Australian Women’s Army Service (AWAS) to release men for duty with fighting units. By the end of the war, more than 24,000 women had enlisted as volunteers in the Service, which involved in a range of duties including administration and transportation. An AWAS contingent was attached to the Signals Unit at Middle Head.

AWAS_Dec1944 ASOPA grew out of an army civil affairs unit also created during the war. It was originally known as the Land Headquarters School of Civil Affairs, and based at the Royal Military College, Duntroon. In 1947 the Government approved the establishment of the Civil School as a permanent body – to be known as ASOPA - with teaching and research duties to be based at Middle Head.

The Army permitted ASOPA to occupy part of 10 Terminal until 1952, when ASOPA was relocated to occupy the timber framed huts of the Signals Camp. A number of modifications and additions were made to the timber huts to make them suitable as a teaching facility.

From its early years ASOPA played an important role in the development of Papua New Guinea. From 1948 it offered a number of refresher courses, short courses and two year diploma courses to train Australians as administrators. Students were originally selected from the armed forces and ASOPA trained many people who made a notable contribution to the development of Papua New Guinea.

Portrait The School became known for its association with a number of notable academics and administrators. In particular, John Kerr, James McAuley, Alf Conlon, Charles Rowley, Peter Lawrence and Camilla Wedgwood.

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, ASOPA grew in stature, size and significance. In 1954 it started to train Australians to become teachers in PNG primary schools as well as continuing to train patrol officers. Teacher training was further extended in 1960 to include training of teachers for Aboriginal schools in the Northern Territory.

In 1964, the School switched teacher training from primary to secondary. In 1967, the school commenced a course for senior local government officials. It was in this period that a number of extensions and alterations were made to ASOPA to cater for the growing demand for its courses and its use as a research school.

By 1970, the Commonwealth Government had realised that despite its goal of making PNG independent, there was no adequately trained public service of indigenous people in the country. In 1971, changes were announced for ASOPA, with the school being developed as a training centre for Papuans and New Guineans, preparing them for the impending self-government. In addition, candidates for short courses could now come from any other developing nations, in the Pacific or elsewhere.

In 1973, the School was integrated into the structure of the office of the Australian Development Assistance Agency and became known as the International Training Institute.

Photos: Students at leisure, early 1960s; AWAS personnel at play on the ‘ASOPA Oval’, December 1944; Sir John Kerr, first ASOPA principal

‘Unique’ ASOPA on market for 2010 lease

Grounds The old ASOPA site is about to be put on the market. Eighteen buildings are being refurbished by the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust and will be available for lease and occupation from early 2010. The Trust has called for expressions of interest to be submitted by 31 March, three weeks away.

 The Trust says the site is important as the location of “Australia’s only training institution established to train administrators and officers for Australia’s overseas territories.”

It recognises the unique contribution ASOPA made to Australia’s administration of Papua New Guinea and the “connection felt by former employees and students to the now defunct institution”.

The buildings are offered as fully refurbished commercial spaces and the Trust says the facility will suit one or two larger occupiers requiring facilities of 650-2,200m² or a number of smaller organisations occupying suites from 40m².

The Trust says uses will be sought that complement the institutional, character of the precinct, including education and training, studios, offices, cultural activities and visitor accommodation.

It is adamant these will interpret the former role of the site, including its period as ASOPA, although it does not explain how this will be achieved. Successful lessees will need to commit to public access to the site.

“The hutted interconnected pattern and built character of the precinct will be retained,” it says. “The tropical landscape character of the inner courtyard will be retained, but selective clearing will need to occur adjacent to buildings to protect the built fabric from water damage.”

The buildings will be retained and restored with finishes and colour schemes reflecting the original. The Trust instructs that “care be taken to avoid and minimise removal of original built fabric from the World War 2 barracks and original adaptation for ASOPA. New buildings are to be of a similar scale, form and material finishes.”

The Trust calls the site a rare surviving example of hutted World War 2 army buildings. Their standardised built form illustrates the lack of materials and labour of the time, as well as the requirement for rapid low cost construction to provide accommodation for defence forces in a national emergency.

Lease_Ad “The site is important as a physical reminder of the nationally unique ASOPA and of Australian engagement in the Pacific,” says the Trust.

“The buildings adapted for use by ASOPA provide a physical focus for the connection felt by former employees and students to the now defunct institution. The site has an association with a number of eminent Australians, including John Kerr, one of the early principals of ASOPA, and the noted poet, James Macauley.”

You can link to a comprehensive document here that includes plans of each of the old ASOPA buildings and plenty of detail about the history of the site.


Peter Ryan, MM

Ryan Peter Peter Allen Ryan was born on 4 September 1923, and educated at Malvern Grammar School. He joined the Victorian Crown Law Department but left in 1941 at the age of 18 to enlist in the Army. For eighteen months he worked on special intelligence work in PNG behind Japanese lines, winning the Military Medal in 1943 and being mentioned in dispatches.

When he returned to Australia he was posted to Victoria Barracks in Melbourne. In 1944-45 he was an officer in the Army's Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs under Colonel Alf Conlon, serving both in Melbourne and at the Land Headquarters School of Civil Affairs – ASOPA’s progenitor - at Duntroon.

In 1946-48, Peter was at the University of Melbourne, graduating with an honours degree in History. While studying Australian history he was taught by Manning Clark. In time, Peter was to become Clark's publisher of the six volumes of a History of Australia. In 1993 he caused a major controversy by publishing a long essay in Quadrant criticising Clark's character and his writings.

From 1958-62, Peter was Public Relations Manager of Imperial Chemical Industries and in 1962 became Director of Melbourne University Press, where he was to remain until his retirement in 1988. Works published during his directorship of MUP included the first twelve volumes of the Australian Dictionary of Biography (to which Ryan was also a contributor), Insects of Australia and Norman Lindsay's Micomicana and books by such well-known authors as Manning Clark, Macfarlane Burnet, Paul Hasluck and AD Hope. Ryan was also pivotal in establishing MUP's high quality publishing subsidiary, Miegunyah Press.

Later Peter held a number of executive positions, including member of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (1985-88); Executive Officer for the Council of Legal Education (1988-2003); Administrative Officer, the Council of Law Reporting in Victoria; and Secretary of the Victorian Board of Examiners for Barristers and Solicitors. He retired from the latter two appointments in 2003.

In addition to numerous press articles and book reviews, Peter wrote several books including Fear Drive My Feet (1959), Redmond Barry (1972), William Macmahon Ball: A Memoir (1990), Black Bonanza: A Landslide of Gold (1991), Chance Encounters: AD Hope (1992), Lines of Fire: Manning Clark and Other Writings (1997) and Brief Lives (2004).

PNGAA backs School of the Pacific idea

Viewtoasopa_3  The Papua New Guinea Association has formally come out in support of the former ASOPA site being redeveloped as a regional institute in which Asia –Pacific participants, including Australians, seek to examine and develop solutions for critical issues facing the region.

The heritage listed buildings on Middle Head are about to be refurbished but, as yet, no future purpose has been identified for them.

The PNGAA has written to Duncan Kerr, the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Islands Affairs, saying it supported “the proposal to redevelop the former ASOPA site on Middle Head, Sydney, as an Asia-Pacific institution dedicated to exchanging knowledge about important regional issues and improving relationships between peoples in the region”.

The PNGAA management committee has no illusions about how difficult this challenge is, but felt it was imperative that it have a go.

We’d like you to join the PNGAA and the many ASOPA PEOPLE readers who have written to Duncan Kerr in support of this proposal. If you haven’t done so already, why don’t you do this now? You’ll find a two-page summary of the proposal which is downloadable here. Download sotp_proposal.pdf   And you can send your letter of support to Mr Kerr at this address:

The Hon Duncan Kerr SC MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Islands Affairs
Parliament H

There was a special ethos about the place

Grounds_3 "Amongst the bushland and spectacular views of Headland Park are nestled former military buildings with surprising stories to tell. Today the rambling bungalows and tropical plants give little hint of the important role played by a modest complex of buildings on lower Middle Head. But for 50 years this place was at the forefront of Australia’s role in the Pacific.”Article_apr08_2

So begins an article, with this exceptional accompanying photograph of the ASOPA grounds, in the most recent issue of Mosman Magazine. The story [right] reports that the Harbour Trust is to soon begin to refurbish the buildings and is currently investigating the history of ASOPA through its oral history program, in which I and a number of readers have participated.

“It gave you this feeling that you’d been involved in something unique,” said Dr Ann Prendergast, a former ASOPA lecturer. “There was a special ethos about the place that I think must have come from the administration and it filtered down through the staff to the students.”

If you have a story to tell about ASOPA or ITI, contact Eunice Sarif on (02) 8969 2100 or email her here.

Kerr-Jackson correspondence continues

Hon Duncan Kerr SC MP
Parliamentary Secretary for
Pacific Island Affairs
Parliament House

Dear Mr Kerr,

Thank you for you response to my letter about the concept of an Australian-based institution designed to address critical issues and build relationships within our region.

While the working title I gave this institution - ‘School of the Pacific’ – was designed to pay tribute to what, in its time, was a place that provided a significant contribution to Australia’s administration of Papua New Guinea, I was not thinking of the former Australian School of Pacific Administration as a model.

ASOPA was a training establishment for ‘colonial officials’ and, of course, such an archetype would lack any current relevance.

ASOPA’s successor organisation, the International Training Institute, which flourished in the 1970s and 1980s, provides a more appropriate model. Although ITI had its institutional and systemic weaknesses, it contained more than the germ of an excellent idea.

The ‘School of the Pacific’, as I conceive it, would not be primarily, or even at all, a training establishment – but a high level institute for the joint consideration of major regional issues. It would both seek solutions through dialogue and expertise but, just as importantly, seek to build lasting relationships between the people who participated in its programs. In doing this, it would hope to link Australian professionals in continuing contact with their Asia-Pacific counterparts.

I hope that you and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will give earnest consideration to this proposal, whether within the Pacific Partnerships or some other program, and that you will be able to keep me and my colleagues informed of developments.

Yours sincerely,

Keith Jackson AM

Govt considers School of the Pacific

Dkerrpngschool I received a letter yesterday from the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Duncan Kerr [seen here visiting a school in PNG], stating that the School of the Pacific concept is to be considered by the Federal government.

Responding to my submission proposing how such an institution could operate to address critical issues and improve relationships in the region, Mr Kerr said that, under the government’s Pacific Partnerships policy, models like ASOPA will be taken into account.

“The Government is committed to implementing long-term partnerships for development and security with Pacific island countries,” Mr Kerr said. “These partnerships will give the Government scope to … consider the role and effectiveness … of previous models like the Australian School of Pacific Administration.”

Mr Kerr, 56, worked in PNG from 1983-85, where he was Dean of the Law Faculty at the University of Papua New Guinea and Legal Counsel Ombudsman, advising on anti-corruption matters and issues related to administrative law.

The School of the Pacific concept has been publicly supported by a number of prominent individuals including PNG Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane, Assoc Prof Martin Hadlow of the University of Queensland, Phil Charley OAM and former PNG health educator, Bill Wilson.

Academic urges Kerr to back ASOPA idea

Cd_rom_2 The Director of the Centre for Communication and Social Change at the University of  Queensland, Assoc Prof Martin Hadlow [left], is the latest in a growing list of influential people who have asked the Federal Government to support the ‘new ASOPA’ concept.

In a letter to the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Islands Affairs, Duncan Kerr, Prof Hadlow says the proposed School of the Pacific would emerge as a “resource base and centre for a range of educational, training, capacity-building, cultural and political initiatives”.

“Such a School would enable our Centre to engage more fully with our Pacific neighbours in supporting the positive role of communication in development, not to mention encouraging freedom of expression, good governance, independent media and other important human rights activities,” Prof Hadlow writes.

Prof Hadlow’s experience includes two years in PNG and four years in the Solomons on communications development projects. In addition he has undertaken consultancy work in many other parts of the Pacific and Asia including two years as Unesco head of mission  in Afghanistan.

A couple of blokes & a couple of notes


Oates_paul Thanks for your newsletter that I read with great interest. The Internet can be an amazing vehicle for getting and keeping in touch. Two of my posts on the Ex Kiap site have resulted in the sons of old PNG friends getting in touch with me, sometimes years after I first put the post on the website.

In regards to recreating ASOPA, there are really three main issues that I can see:

1. To recreate ASOPA or a similar entity at Middle Head would require the Federal government to resist selling off the asset

2. The links with past colonial administration would have to be overlooked by say, the present crop of PNG leaders, and

3. The cost of bringing those people from the Pacific to Oz and being housed here would have to be worth the benefits of not enacting the training locally.

From a cultural perspective, you would no doubt be aware of the 'melt down' occurring to our near north. The 'Melanesian way' is unfortunately, very susceptible to promoting graft and corruption without any accountability. To train people here and then release them back into an environment where the training will have no real impact, is like trying to put a bandaid on a dying man and hope it may help.

I was heartened by the support for the concept being shown by the PNG Governor-General who clearly wants to do something positive for his country. There are a number of people I know who would want to do the same, merely because we have enormous regard for the country and it's people. The essence of the trouble is, DFAT and the current PNG leadership have every reason to keep the status quo in place and almost no reason to change. Throwing more money at the 'slow train crash' that is happening before our eyes will only help 'grease the tracks'.

What's the answer you may well ask? Well, clearly it's not more of the same. The nub of the problem is the need to have responsible and accountable government. Until you get that in PNG, there won't be any change, apart from some temporary and cosmetic filling of the visible pot holes and putting up self congratulatory signage. The rot starts from the top. If the collective will is there to actually achieve some dramatic and long lasting change, I for one would be very happy to lend all the support I can. I know of others who would also feel the same way.

Keep up the good work.



Thanks for you note, and I appreciate greatly your sentiments and support. I also appreciate your thoughtful and provocative contribution to the Ex Kiap website, which helps keep discussion about PNG alive amongst the many friends that country has in Australia and elsewhere. Friends who, you and I are both aware, regard with dismay the state of this wonderful place that, in our youth, offered and gave us so much.

The 'new ASOPA' idea is just that. It's not a solution. It's one way of trying to make tangible the notion that, at the end of the day, if we don't interact with good will and firm purpose, nothing of value will be achieved.

I'm alive to the view that what I've proposed may be seen to be a bit of a 'talk shop' - but I think talking is OK so long as the discussion is about matters of mutual concern and how these may be mutually addressed and how it's pretty good to be talking in a directive way about serious matters that need resolution.

There hasn't been nearly enough of that between PNG and ourselves for a very long time. Certainly not at the level of interested citizens who feel a bit of PNG in our blood - and who see the relationship as personal and important. In 20 years time most of us who have a first hand feeling for PNG will be gone. And I think with us will go a lot of passion. And perhaps a lot of the promise of a really close relationship.

So, for me, the 'new ASOPA' is an opportunity. There will undoubtedly be others that pop up from time to time. It's fine for Heavy Kevvy to sign a 'Port Moresby Declaration' but, at another level, I feel we must create avenues to say to those people we thought we knew so well at the time we lived among them: ‘We're still here; we're willing to lend a hand. Forget about government, this is personal.’

With very best wishes.


School of the Pacific is on govt agenda

A senior official in the Department of Foreign Affairs has indicated that the School of the Pacific concept will be considered by the Federal government as a possible option for training Pacific public servants.

Coleletter In a letter [left] to former ASOPA student Bill Wilson, the assistant secretary responsible for the Pacific Branch of the department, Patrick Cole, previously Australia’s high commissioner to the Solomons, said that, under the government’s Pacific Partnerships policy, previous models like ASOPA will be considered.

“The Government is committed to implementing long-term partnerships for development and security with Pacific island countries,” Mr Cole said. “These partnerships will give the Government scope to … consider the role and effectiveness … of previous models like the Australian School of Pacific Administration.”

This is the first official comment on the ‘new ASOPA’ idea. So far Duncan Kerr, the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, has remained silent on the issue.

It's not too late to urge Duncan Kerr to take up this idea. Read the full three-page proposal here and write to Mr Kerr here:

The Hon Duncan Kerr SC, MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House

Ruth Fink Latukefu

In 1960, Dr Ruth Fink, the 28-year old daughter of German Jewish refugees, came to ASOPA. The illustrious anthropologist, Professor AP Elkin, whose course she took over, had referred her. Ruth’s research background was among the Wajarri Aboriginal people of the Murchison region, 450 km north of Perth and an hour’s drive inland from Geraldton.

Ruth was an instant success at ASOPA, where she lectured Cadet Education Officers and Patrol Officers in Anthropology – although, as the following extract from a letter of November 1964 shows, she was a little awed by the hard living kiaps:

“This year lecturing to the Patrol Officers for the first time has made me feel more confident, as they are a very tough group of young men and I expected they would resent having a woman lecturer. They proved very charming and well behaved, even though they are hulking masculine types who drink and swear and lead a rough life.

“A lucky thing happened early in the year, which helped me a lot with them. I had set them an essay and discovered that they were plotting a hoax. Several of them referred to a Dr CJ Blunge, supposedly a famous Belgian anthropologist, who had worked not only in New Guinea but also in Siberia. I started to get suspicious when he was quoted in a number of the essays I was marking and I thought it was a test to see if I was actually reading them.

"I said nothing, but for the next assignment, on their notice board I listed books that they should consult, and scattered among them were several new papers by Herr Blunge (which I had made up). Later I told them that Dr Blunge had been branded a Communist and no further works by him were to be kept in the ASOPA Library.”

Wedding In 1965, Ruth took up an appointment at Sydney University. She had by then met her future husband, Sione Latukefu, a Tongan Methodist Minister who later became a noted Pacific historian.

By 1967 Ruth and Sione were living in Port Moresby and teaching at the new University of Papua New Guinea. Ruth says: “We remained for 18 years... Our time in PNG was an unforgettable part of our lives.”

The full story of Ruth Fink Latukefu can be found in the March issue of The Mail [see ASOPA People Extra].

Kenneth E 'Mick' Read

Mick Read was born in Sydney in 1917 and succumbed to cancer at his long time home in Seattle in 1995 aged 78. He was Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Washington.

Mick was born into the privileges of an upper class Australian country family and grew up in the outback, which coloured his values and gave him a love of nature, but forever made him over-sensitive to light and prone to cancer. His father was a wealthy grazier near Boggabri.

High_valley Read's undergraduate degree was taken at the University of Sydney. During World War II he served in the Australian Army in New Guinea. He spent two years in the Markham Valley, largely isolated from his comrades, and it was here he first became acquainted with village life, reporting that in the last few months he was dependent upon villagers for daily handouts of food to sustain him. He completed his PhD in Anthropology after the war. In his first and best known book, ‘The High Valley’, published in 1965, Read thanks Ian Hogbin as ‘my first teacher in anthropology (who) introduced me to the people of Melanesia and New Guinea’.

Read returned to the Research School of Pacific Studies at the Australian National University and returned to the PNG Highlands for two years (1950-52) to study the basic elements of social structure, religion, and social change following the war among the Gahuku-Gama people.

It is claimed by many that Mick Read opened Highlands anthropology as a culture area to the anthropological imagination, through the combination of his intensive theoretical and ethnographic studies. These were capped by his articles ‘Nama Cult of the Central Highlands’ in 1952 and two years later the landmark piece ‘Cultures of the Central Highlands’, both of which constituted initial reading for all serious students of New Guinea for a generation to come.

Read's career took him from ANU to Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at the ASOPA in 1953-1956, where he taught culture and language. Here he made contact with some of the most influential names in the history of colonial New Guinea, including the Leahy brothers, who became friends. He moved to Seattle, Washington, in 1957.

Source: From an obituary written by Gilbert Herdt

Matane backs 'New ASOPA' concept

New_era PNG’s Governor-General Sir Paulias Matane has said he supports the vision for a ‘New ASOPA’ that has featured in ASOPA PEOPLE recently. And he has said of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s visit to PNG last week: “A better relationship between our two nations has now been established.”

“We are very happy with his views," Sir Paulias told ASOPA PEOPLE. "Mr Rudd’s first call after his arrival in Port Moresby on Thursday was on me at Government House before his meetings with other PNG leaders. We were all impressed with his views; and much more so to work in partnership with us, not to dictate anything to PNG.”

Sir Paulias expressed pleasure that Mr Rudd had appointed “the well-known Hon Duncan Kerr" as Parliamentary Secretary for the Pacific . "It was good to see him here,” he said.

Photo: PNG Post-Courier front page shows a cheerful Sir Michael Somare and Kevin Rudd in Port Moresby last week.

Support for 'new ASOPA' from India

Colin L Yarham

The redevelopment of the ASOPA site in the manner suggested in the February issue of The Mail is enthusiastically supported. As one person indicated, to justify the cost of redevelopment of the site, apart from the think-tank periods, use of the facility could be extended for training courses for overseas and indigenous personnel.

In addition, there is a wide ranging number of NGOs operating out of Australia attempting to undertake overseas work, who really need training of in-house employees in the realities of the work attempted.

The one thing that would be a requirement is the development of the old ASOPA innovative, open, can-do attitude that so pervaded the old institution.

Colin_yarham I was formerly a lecturer at ASOPA [1966-69]. Norm Donnison had lectured me in teachers’ college and, like everything else he did, he also was a very enthusiastic and competent rugby league coach. Warmly remembered.

I work with health literacy in developing countries. I’m currently working in cooperation with the Tamil Nadu state government to develop a comprehensive health, life skills and social development syllabus for Grades 1 to 12 called the Schools Total Health Program (STHP). It is reaching some 14 million children and youths.

Two Russian professors declared STHP to be 'the best program in the world' and, at the invitation of the Education Minister, I was sent as World health organisation adviser to the Russian Federation to initiate the program there.

The Union Government in India now wishes to introduce the program to all states and is financing its further development.

UNICEF also wants to introduce the program in Kyrgyzstan and an invitation from the Guidance, Counselling and Youth Development Centre for Africa conducted by the Ministers of Education of 32 African Countries has resulted in a co-operative venture commencing in that continent from the Centre in Malawi.

Dr Yarham is director of Health Education & Promotion International Inc. He is currently based in Chennai, India.

Photo: Colin Yarham handing over the manual that has helped educate more than 14 million Indian Children to Lee Evans. Picture: Samantha Emanuel, North Shore Times

If you support the redevelopment of ASOPA as a national and regional development studies centre [see February’s The Mail under ‘NEWSLETTER – THE MAIL’ in the left hand column], please send a letter of support to Hon Duncan Kerr, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, Parliament House, PO Box 6022, Canberra ACT 2600.

Commemorating our contribution to PNG

You can help secure a future for the old ASOPA site on Middle Head; a future that is productive and which commemorates its history as a place of learning and a training institution. This is the time to make your views known to the Australian Government through Minister Duncan Kerr. Here's Bill Wilson's submission.

The Hon Duncan Kerr SC, MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House

Dear Sir

I believe an approach has been made to you to redevelop the former School of Pacific Administration at Mosman as a training institute for Pacific Islanders to assist them to make culturally appropriate decisions on matters of major concern such as economic needs, climatic change, health services, and local and regional political issues. Such a development would assist Pacific Island opinion leaders and government officials to further develop their capacity to make vital decisions about their future needs without domination by major world powers. This is in line with Australian policy, which recognises the rights of Pacific Islanders to manage their own affairs, free of domination and political/economic blackmail. I strongly support this approach having had many years of contact with Pacific Islanders and being sympathetic to their concerns about their collective futures.

This form of assistance would also enhance Australia’s reputation as a friendly and supportive nation willing to help its neighbours without attempting domination and interference in internal affairs.

I also see the proposed training institute as being of value in the training of leaders of Australian indigenous groups to meet the problems being faced by their own people. This would be in line with past activities of the ASOPA in providing training for Northern Territory field staff.

I would like to see that the proposed institute be used to commemorate the contribution made to Papua New Guinea by young Australian field officers who gave up their youth, risked their health and wellbeing, and gave up alternative career and education opportunities to assist the indigenous peoples of TPNG and the Northern Territory. These officers included agricultural officers, education officers, medical assistants, nurses and patrol officers who made major contribution to the indigenous peoples and communities they worked with. In discussions with international students with whom I studied at London University, the dedication of Australian field staff and their policy of care and compassion clearly exceeded that experienced by indigenous populations in Africa and Asia.

The concept of recognising the merit of Australians working overseas is already accepted in relation to personnel in the armed forces and in police groups assisting to maintain law and order in 3rd World nations. It is timely that the field staff who served more peaceful purposes in TPNG before independence were given equal recognition before illness and old age wipes them and their historic memories out – much to the loss of this nation.

I make this submission not as a ‘do gooder’ but as a proud Australian who experienced at first hand the dealings of Australian field staff in TPNG and later in the Northern Territory. I hope that you will give careful consideration to this proposal and the submissions of support you will certainly receive. If I can be of any service to you on the issue please contact me.

Yours sincerely

WT Wilson

Georges Heights planning open day

The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust is preparing a draft management plan for the Georges Heights precinct including a landscape plan for the adjoining bushland. This weekend you can take a guided tour, discuss ideas for the site with Trust planners and have a say in the preparation of the plan.

Where: Harbour Trust Offices, Building 28, Best Avenue off Suakin Drive, Middle Head, Mosman.

When: 9 am, 10 am or 11 am Saturday 16 February.

RSVP Jessica Sartor before 4 pm Friday 15 February by phoning 02 8969 2100 or emailing [email protected]

I'm sure you can write a letter like this...

The Hon Duncan Kerr SC, MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House

Dear Mr Kerr,

I wish to support the proposal by Keith Jackson AM for utilising the old ASOPA site at Middle Head, Sydney, for the establishment of a “School of the Pacific”.

This is an excellent idea for the overall integration and improvement of this region.

I had nine years in Papua New Guinea (1970–79) training indigenous people in the field of radio broadcasting. Then, as Radio Training Supervisor at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (1985 – 90) I was involved as co-lecturer in several training courses in  radio and television management in the Philippines, Indonesia and Fiji. These courses were organised by Martin Hadlow of UNESCO. My wife and I also worked in Tonga for AESOP in the field of educational broadcasting. So I feel I have a good understanding of how helpful short courses, as proposed by Keith Jackson, can be.

Please give this proposal your favourable consideration. It could do enormous good for the South Pacific/South East Asia region.

Yours sincerely,

Philip N Charley OAM

School feedback offers some great ideas

ASOPA PEOPLE scored a record 307 page views yesterday and among the readers were some prepared to add value to the proposal I’ve made to Duncan Kerr, Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs, for the Federal Government to consider revivifying ASOPA as The School of the Pacific.

For example, Bill Wilson of Canberra says the School should also be established as a “practical memorial commemorating the work of all field officers who gave up their youth, health and career opportunities to serve and assist the people of TPNG”. Bill as one of those people, although he continued on with a wonderful career in Australia as a health educator.

And Henry Bodman of Brisbane proposes that the Hallstrom Pacific Library should be regrouped and relocated to its original site on the Middle Head campus. While I think there may be some difficulties in extracting acquisitions from those universities and other institutions that now house them, it’s certainly an idea worth pursuing.

There were also many other proposals about making sure the heritage and story of ASOPA (and ITI) are appropriately commemorated. In all, a wonderful response.

If you haven’t done so already, don’t forget to read the proposal and communicate your thoughts to Duncan Kerr at this address.

You can read the full three-page proposal here

The Hon Duncan Kerr SC, MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House

Huge response to School of the Pacific

The proposal to establish a regional think tank at the old ASOPA site – an institution which maintains the traditions of ASOPA in a 21st century context – has caught the imagination of people who have a strong association with PNG and the Pacific. ASOPA PEOPLE has been deluged with more than 500 hits on the matter in a little over 24 hours.

I shouldn’t really refer to the proposal as promoting a ‘think tank’: a somewhat derogatory term for a place designed to bring together people from the region, including Australians, to address the great regional issues they face and to develop solutions to these challenges.

In concentrated four-week programs, participants will address some of the most pressing problems in the region - for example, global warming, migration, terrorism, health, education. They will receive high-level briefings from Australian experts and then consider the subject in depth over a period of two weeks, through research, dialogue, analysis, modelling, solution development and decision-making.

It is then intended there will be a public conference based around the subject matter where participants and other experts will present papers. Finally, there will be a report produced, including actions that participants will commit to.

The School of the Pacific is expected to bring together people from different nationalities to acquire and share knowledge on critical matters affecting the region and their own countries. They will form new relationships, including with Australian professionals, and develop new networks in their areas of professional activity or expertise.

You can read the full proposal here.

Can we establish an ASOPA successor?

The forthcoming Ideas Summit announced by Kevin Rudd yesterday stimulated me to fire off a missive Kerrto Duncan Kerr [pictured], the new Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs. And the letter contained a very big idea indeed - a rough operating concept for a notional ‘School of the Pacific’ to be located on the old ASOPA site at Middle Head.

The objects of the School will be to run short programs to address critical issues in the region and to strengthen Australia’s relationships with the region and especially with South Pacific and South-East Asian nations. Attendance at the School will be through Australian Government fellowships to political, government, business and NGO leaders.

The programs on offer might cover subjects like: environmental integrity in the Asia Pacific region; the impact of global warming in the South Pacific; using the mass media as a means of development; economic development and migration in the South Pacific; and promoting educational opportunity through regional cooperation.

You can read the full three-page proposal here

I urge you to add your voice to this concept for an exciting new use for the ASOPA site by writing to Mr Kerr at this address:

The Hon Duncan Kerr SC, MP
Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs
PO Box 6022
House of Representatives
Parliament House

Ann Prendergast

Ann was born in Hay NSW in 1934 and grew up on a property 100 km out of town town. Her early education was through lessons mailed each week from Blackfriars Correspondence School in Sydney. She completed her secondary education with the Sisters of St Joseph at their boarding schools in Leeton and Goulburn. In 1953 Ann was awarded a scholarship to Wagga Teachers College, where she trained as an infants teacher.

After three years country service in her hometown of Hay, in 1958 Ann was appointed to Norfolk Street Infants School in Newtown and began evening study at Sydney University majoring in history and completing an honours year followed by an MA. In 1963 she was appointed to ASOPA, where she was a popular lecturer - her earnest and softly spoken style and pleasant good looks a constraint on even the most boisterous male students..

Ann was encouraged by Principal Charles Rowley to apply for a scholarship to the East West Centre at the University of Hawaii, established by the American government during the Kennedy administration to promote cultural contact between Asia, the Pacific and the US. Here, Ann began work on the culture and history of the Pacific. Her doctoral thesis was on the history of the early years of the London Missionary Society in Papua. She later spent time working in the archives of the Society in London.

Having finished her PhD in 1968, Ann returned to teach at Balmain Teachers College, later Kuring-gai College of Education, which was incorporated into the Sydney University of Technology. She rose to the position of Head of the Department of Social Science. In 1990 Ann retired after forty years of challenging, interesting and productive academic life.

Ann retains a lively interest in ASOPA affairs and was disappointed that physical immobility prevented her attendance at the recent reunion in Brisbane.

Source: Sophie McGrath in Newsletter (vol 6 no 1, April 2006) of the Golding Centre for Women’s History, Theology and Spirituality, Australian Catholic University, Strathfield NSW

Sir Edward Hallstrom

Monument Sir Edward Hallstrom [1886-1970] founded Taronga Zoo Park and directed it from 1941-67. It was in this capacity he gave lectures at ASOPA in 1962 on ‘Capturing of Wild Animals’ and ‘Wild Life in TPNG’, the latter disappointingly offering no advice on how to deal with outstation social excesses let alone activities at Port Moresby’s bottom pub.

As a young man he exhibited an adventurous spirit. In December 1909, he transported one of Australia’s first aircraft, a glider, to the sandhills at Narrabeen Beach and flew it as a kite to make sure it was stable and would support a man.

He had left school at 13 to be apprenticed to a cabinet-maker and studied using the Harmsworth Self-Educator, encyclopaedias and scientific magazines. Intelligent and hard working, he soon had charge of a furniture factory which made innerspring mattresses – the first in Australia. He quit after trying to interest his employers in kerosene-powered incubators. The mattress makers couldn’t understand the leap in logic at all.

In 1923 Hallstrom produced his first Icy Ball absorption refrigerator, a chest model run by kerosene, which he sold around the outback. He then took his idea a step further, adapting the power unit to manufacture Australia’s first electric refrigerator, the Silent Knight. It launched in 1935 and made him a very wealthy man indeed.

By the mid-1940s Hallstroms Pty Ltd was turning out 1,200 refrigerators per week and employed over 700 people. He subsequently invented a machine for refrigerating anaesthetics which he presented to Sydney Hospital.

By this time Hallstrom could afford to indulge two passions—a love of birds and animals (a childhood obsession) and philanthropy. With the proceeds of the sale of five hundred kerosene refrigerators in Africa in 1937, he bought two rhinoceroses which he presented to the Taronga Zoological Park Trust. These were the first of many gifts which gave him extraordinary influence. In 1941 he was appointed a trustee of the zoo which he was to dominate for the next 26 years. As head curator, Hallstrom controversially did away with the miniature railway, elephant and camel rides and performing seals saying, “It’s a zoo, not a circus”.

Davey_hallstrom_namatjira From 1966 he was also under covert surveillance for illegal trafficking in rare Australian fauna. In 1970, 35 people were convicted and it was thought Hallstrom may have used his influence to have his involvement concealed. The 1993 book, Smuggled, accused him of doing so, but Hallstrom was long dead and the allegations was never proven. Sir Edward died in 1970, aged 83, disspirited by the criminal investigations and with his loss of control over the zoo.

The Hallstrom Pacific Library, established from a £10,000 gift he made to ASOPA, was transferred to the University of NSW upon the demise of the campus in 1998. When ASOP transformed to ITI, the library steadily built a collection of hats donated by students. It was an unusual tribute to Sir Edward Hallstrom, who himself collected the hats of famous men, including Chaplin, Churchill, Truman, Eisenhower and Menzies.

[Lower photo: Jack Davey, Hallstrom and artist Albert Namatjira on Davey's radio show c 1950]

Mapping memories we didn’t even know we had

Map I don’t know whether this map is clear enough for you to interpret (just left click on it). But, for all of us who spent time at ASOPA or ITI or whatever they called it later, after the place was defenestrated, this image has significance.

Most of the huts were built in 1941 as an Australian Army Signals camp. What became the Hallstrom Pacific Library and the Principal’s administrative bunker were sleeping huts then. They were placed near the road where, if you’re a bureaucrat, sleeping huts should be. The old common room and canteen, remember those sweeping views across the harbour to Rose Bay, in those days were the signalmens’ camp mess.

The lecture room, where Jean Newcombe struggled to teach us biology, was a workshop. Jean had been naïve (or mischievous) enough to tell us that the Bird of Paradise mates upside down. Whereupon one bright spark interpolated: “Ah, it inverts and multiplies”. To be trumped by another genius: “No, it inverts and inserts”. Mathematics Method never had it so good.

There are battery rooms that became lecture rooms. And latrines that remained toilets. But isn’t it amazing that even a stark map can dredge up the richest of memories?

J K Murray

Murray_1954 Sir Jack Keith Murray OBE [1889-1979] was an agriculturalist, a soldier and an administrator – and he excelled in every field. His parents separated when he was two and his mother supported him by working as a domestic servant. Murray later wrote he found it 'impossible to pay an adequate tribute to her'. His mother saved the money that enabled him to enter St Joseph's College, Hunters Hill, in 1904.

He graduated from Sydney University just after the start of World War 1 with a BScAgr, BA and, after service with the Sydney University Scouts, a diploma of military science. In 1916 he enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force and, after service in France and post-war agricultural studies, he was demobilised in 1920.

In 1923 he became principal of the Queensland Agricultural High School at Gatton and later took up a concurrent appointment as foundation professor of agriculture at the University of Queensland. Gatton, severely run down, was transformed under his direction and Murray became a leading figure in Queensland affairs.

In 1940, at the age of 51, he rejoined the Army as Colonel and was given command of the 25th Battalion, Darling Downs Regiment, spending the next three years administering army training establishments. He looked the part: fit, wiry, of middle height and upright bearing. He wore a full moustache, clipped at the ends.

In February 1944, Alf Conlon appointed Murray as chief instructor at the School of Civil Affairs in Canberra, the precursor to ASOPA, where he trained personnel to administer Australia's territories. As PNG returned to civil control after the war, Minister for External Territories Eddie Ward wanted an Administrator who would pursue his reformist aims for the territory. Murray was sworn in on 16 October 1945.

Murray dealt with problems of reconstruction, paying special attention to the plight of the people in villages devastated by war. Each year he spent months visiting outlying districts, talking with village leaders and missionaries, encouraging his staff, and restoring confidence in the Australian administration. He obtained from Canberra neither policy direction nor decisions. He believed action could best be taken in Port Moresby.

In pursuit of a 'new deal' for Papuans and New Guineans, Murray supervised the establishment of village courts, village councils, cooperative societies, extension courses in agriculture, aid posts, training of indigenous medical officers and orderlies, and moved the workforce from an indenture system to one of free labour. The local white establishment found Murray's attitude to Papua New Guineans scandalous. When the Murrays invited Papuans to functions at Government House, whites boycotted them and Murray was dubbed 'Kanaka Jack'.

As a Labor appointee, Murray was regarded with suspicion when Robert Menzies was elected in 1949. A major rift occurred in 1950 when Murray disagreed with an order from Canberra that Papua New Guineans should not speak directly to a visiting mission from the United Nations. In 1952, new Territories Minister Paul Hasluck dismissed Murray, not offering him the opportunity to retire or resign, and replaced him with Liberal Party operative Donald Cleland.

Murray lived in retirement at St Lucia, Brisbane. He was a member (1953-68) of the senate of the University of Queensland. In 1959 he was appointed OBE and he was knighted in 1978. He died on 10 December 1979 at Jindalee.

JK Murray focused and epitomised reform in postwar PNG. While he was Administrator, change was the central issue. By the time he was removed from office, the pattern had been set, and the best policies of the following decades flowed from those he had supported and proposed.

[Source: Brian Jinks, 'Murray, Sir Jack Keith (1889 - 1979)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 15, Melbourne University Press, 2000]

Ida Leeson

Ida_leesonc1932 Ida Emily Leeson [1885-1964] attended Sydney Girls High and Sydney University, graduating with a BA in 1906 and finding a job as a library assistant. In 1909 she transferred to the Mitchell Library and by 1919 occupied one of the Library's senior positions, principal accessions officer. Over this period she developed a great interest in Australian and Pacific materials. In 1927, during a visit to Britain, she discovered, in the Public Record Office, the missing third volume of Matthew Flinders’ 1801-08 log.

In 1932 Ida Leeson became the first woman to be appointed Mitchell Librarian, but only after a public controversy about whether it was appropriate to appoint a female to such a senior position. The trustees reorganised the library's senior management, reducing the status and salary of the Librarian - a move criticised in vain by feminists such as Jessie Street.

Under Ida Leeson's direction the Mitchell Library consolidated its position as the pre-eminent repository of Australian and Pacific documents. Numerous important collections were acquired and the library's role expanded. During World War 2, while regular library services were curtailed, the establishment of General MacArthur's headquarters in Melbourne in 1942 led to frequent requests of the library for intelligence information about the Pacific. Ida Leeson was the right person to go to.

In April 1944 Alf Conlon secured her secondment as a research officer in ASOPA’s predecessor, the Directorate of Research and Civil Affairs. As Major Leeson she became a key member of Conlon's team which included people like John Kerr, James McAuley and JK Murray. Later she referred to Conlon as a “life-changer”. She did not return to the Mitchell after the war, preferring instead to become the first ASOPA librarian. In 1949 she moved to the South Pacific Commission where she worked until 1956.

Leeson_book Ida Leeson was a diminutive and forceful person who resisted easy classification. She became a trailblazer for women and for librarians and was a champion of the lively literary culture of Australia in the 1930s and 1940s. She was a close friend of Walter Burley Griffin and for some time Ida and her partner Florence Birch lived as part of the Griffins’ bohemian enclave in Castlecrag.

In her later years Ida Leeson continued to research for universities and other bodies and was generous with advice and assistance. She died on 22 January 1964.

Sources: [1] Baiba Berzins, Australian Dictionary of Biography’, vol 10, Melbourne University Press, 1986. [2] Sylvia Martin, ‘Ida Leeson: A Life’, Allen and Unwin, 2006

Dorothy Shineberg

Shineberg Professor Dorothy Shineberg [1927–2004] was a legend among Pacific historians, described as “wise, humane and sagacious” and “an ornament to the discipline”. She wrote They Came for Sandalwood (1967), the pioneering and definitive account of the 19th century sandalwood trade in Melanesia, and in retirement completed her long project The People Trade, a sharply focused study of imported Pacific Island labourers in New Caledonia.

After graduating from Melbourne University she was recruited by Alf Conlon in 1948 to join the staff of ASOPA, where she taught Pacific History, hitherto an unknown discipline. Her subsequent teaching career spanned four decades mainly at ANU where she developed the first stand-alone university course in Pacific History.

They Came for Sandalwood is the work for which Dorothy Shineberg will be best remembered. It was original in presenting history in a way that incorporated Melanesian perceptions, while at the same time avoiding a romanticised view of Melanesian culture. It also set a standard for close, documentary research - not always easy in the investigation of the activities of nineteenth century Pacific traders.

To her lasting regret, Dr Shineberg was never appointed to a permanent research position at ANU. It was the tragedy of her professional life, a tremendous disappointment to her and a loss to scholarship. She was channelled instead into undergraduate teaching, which she did remarkably well. She would have been the first to admit that she was not a flamboyant or entertaining lecturer. But what was lacking in presentation was made up for in careful preparation. Her reputation as teacher was widely bruited by her students; and her Head of Department (Manning Clark) spoke for everyone with the observation that she ‘brought grace and wisdom to the teaching of Pacific history’. The self-reliance that her mother instilled carried over into her teaching: she expected her students to show initiative as well as enthusiasm, and took early retirement when they started asking for a bunch of photocopied articles as a substitute for their own research.

Dorothy Shineberg once said that she felt fortunate in having all her life known so many interesting people. She herself was intensely interesting and very good company, noted among other things for her robust sense of humour. There were other sides to her life besides being an academic historian, including an informed appreciation of classical music. Like many academics from Melbourne she was passionate about her football club (Collingwood). She was an equally ardent, and knowledgeable, follower of the Australian cricket team, although disliking the boorishness of some of the players. Not least were her concern for social justice, a product of her precarious upbringing, and her love for her family. She was described as a lioness—‘and no lioness,’ said her daughter Susan, ‘defended her cubs more fiercely’.

[Source: Obituary by Doug Munro, The Journal of Pacific Studies, vol 27 no 2, 2004]

Read Dorothy Shineberg's account of how she landed at ASOPA in the latest Mail, out today

Ian Hogbin

Ian Hogbin [1904-1989] belonged to Anthropology's heroic age. Recruited by AR Radcliffe-Brown, mentored by Bronislaw Malinowski and a member of the brilliant generation - including Raymond Firth, Reo Fortune, Margaret Mead and Douglas Oliver - who pioneered modern field research in the South Pacific.

Hogbin Like many anthropologists in World War 2, Hogbin served as an adviser to the armed forces, lending expertise to problems of indigenous populations overtaken by the upheaval. Controversially, he maintained that when the Japanese occupied New Guinea, the people had no alternative but to do as they were told. He argued they “couldn’t be counted as traitors even if they were Japanese village policemen or worked for the Japanese... The government of the day were the Japanese, the Japanese had conquered the country”. Hogbin’s view was not accepted by ANGAU and New Guinean ‘traitors’ were publicly hanged or otherwise punished.

At Sydney University after the war, he inspired a new generation of anthropologists with his enthusiasm for field work and the absolute importance of clear writing. Hogbin was remarkable for the extent of his research and the volume of his writings: he worked in no fewer than five Pacific communities and published nine books. By the outbreak of   the Pacific war, he had completed studies in Malaita, Guadalcanal and Wogeo. He travelled extensively in the Solomons and PNG during the war, and made a final study of Busama in the late 1940s.

Hogbin was well known for his perceptive and sensitive approach to field work. A Solomon Islander remarked, “At last we have found a European who is a black man, even if his skin is white”.

After the appearance of his last monograph, The Leaders and the Led, in 1978, Ian's friends hoped he would commit to writing the stories with which he had often entertained them over the dinner table. Regrettably other commitments and a degree of reticence prevented him undertaking the task until he found himself physically unable to write.

[Further reading: Jeremy Beckett, ‘Conversations with Ian Hogbin’, Oceania Monograph 35; Oceania Publications, University of Sydney]

Oral history of ASOPA is being recorded

Middle_head The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust is doing a fine job in conserving the cultural history of its harbourside sites – including ASOPA - through the stories and memories of people  associated with them. So it was that yesterday I sat down in my board room for an hour with Julie Evans and reminisced about my ASOPA and ITI experiences.

The recordings and transcripts of this important project provide snapshots of the sites’ histories and a reflection of the impact they have had on people’s lives. The Harbour Trust is keen to hear from people who have worked or studied at ASOPA or ITI. If you want further information or would like to participate, contact the resource centre coordinator by email here or by phone on (02) 8969 2100.

Peter Lawrence

Peter Lawrence [1921-1987] was born in Lancashire and read classics at Cambridge. After war service in naval intelligence, he returned to Cambridge to study anthropology and earned his PhD for research amongst the PNG Garia people of the southern Madang Province in the late 1940s. Lawrence had a real love affair with the Garia and eventually managed to visit them each year from 1971 until shortly before his death. Lawrence’s book on the Garia, critics said, was the work of a determined, resourceful and distinguished contributor to Melanesian ethnology.

Roadcargo Lawrence's professional career was spent in Australia, where he was Professor of Anthropology at both Queensland University (1966-70), and Sydney University (1970-86). He was a frequent visitor to North America, where he lectured widely.

His principal theoretical interest was in the intellectual life of primitive peoples, with perhaps his best known books being Road Belong Cargo and Gods, Ghosts and Men in Melanesia. He wrote on religion, social structure, politics and law. But much of his teaching emphasised the applied value of anthropology, particularly for colonial administrators committed to indigenous development.

Lawrence’s first and enduring passion, he admitted, was teaching at the Australian School of Pacific Administration, beginning in 1957, where he created the Anthropology curriculum.

He had a major role, too, in the transformation of ASOPA to the International Training Institute, which contributed much to the education and careers of administrators from Third World countries. Peter Lawrence in Sydney died of a stroke on 12 December 1987.

Fred Kaad

Kaad In 1964 Fred Kaad OBE was District Commissioner in Madang when the light aircraft in which he was flying crashed, fatally injuring the pilot and leaving Fred a paraplegic with third degree burns to both legs, continuing neuropathic pain and rotator cuff problems. He was, as the result of that tragic event, confined to a wheelchair. But it didn’t stop him embarking on a second and equally distinguished career.

Following a long period in hospital and in convalescence, Fred spent a year at Robb College in the University of New England completing a Masters Degree in Educational Administration. He subsequently became a course director and lecturer at the Australian School of Pacific Administration and stayed on there when it transformed into the International Training Institute, where I first met him.

After retirement Fred worked as a consultant but has spent an increasing amount of time on honorary work in the area of spinal injuries. He remains Deputy Chairman and Honorary Director of Spinal Cure Australia and as a Patron, along with the Governor-General, of the PNG Association of Australia.

Charles Rowley

Charles_rowley I can’t go back to the former ASOPA campus, and I return from time to time, without recapturing the spirit of Professor Charles Rowley – who taught me, and many others, both at the School and at the University of Papua New Guinea. He was a great man – knowledgeable, reasoned, patient and kind.

Back at ASOPA again on Saturday, along with Rowley’s ghost, I reflected on what the late Donald Horne wrote of him in one of his last articles, which was about the so-called ‘history wars’. “One of the achievements of the '60s,” Horne said, ”was the careful conceptualisation by the social scientist Charles Rowley that what went with that dispossession was as, above all, ‘the destruction of Aboriginal society’. What mattered most was not how many massacres there had been, but that dispossession disintegrated the structure of the Aboriginal societies.

“In his index, Rowley gave almost two columns to ‘society’ and less than a sixth of a column to ‘massacres’. (Another aberration? If everyone involved in the Windschuttle skirmish had set their course by Rowley's clear conceptual vision, discussion would not have veered into the squalid and the plain silly.)”

[Source: ‘Still lucky, but getting smarter’ by Donald Horne, The Age, 28 August 2004]


Asopa There was a great turn out at today’s ‘back to ASOPA’ gathering at the old School – which I assure you retains a dignified beauty despite being a little tatty around the edges. The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust is doing a great job trying to ensure that the site will appropriately commemorate the existence of ASOPA and ITI, but our readers’ help is needed to make this a reality.

This afternoon nearly 60 former staff and students of ASOPA and ITI returned to the Middle Head campus to discuss how to demonstrate the significance of the site and its buildings. While the site’s future is already assured, such is the nature of bureaucracy that there is a need to assemble a powerful case for persuasively interpreting the reason ASOPA existed in the first place.

Without mincing words, what this means is whether the School will be marked by a mere plaque or by something more substantial, such as a research centre or a commemorative display.

“There’s a great feeling of belonging that exists among people who have been associated with this place,” said Bob Clarke, Sydney Harbour Trust architect responsible for the site.

But, he added, ASOPA’s significance needs to be demonstrated and the best people to do that are probably those who worked and studied there. That is, us.

Ingrid Jackson, a former ITI lecturer who I met and married on campus, volunteered to coordinate a project on behalf of the Trust in which people will be asked to provide information including:

          Reasons why ASOPA/ITI should be considered a site of significance.

          Comparable institutions in other countries.

          Lists of photographs, documents or other memorabilia in your possession that may be of interest to a research centre.

You can help keep ASOPA’s memory alive by emailing Ingrid at this Internet address or by faxing her at (02) 9904 0960 indicating how you might be able to assist with any of these matters.

By the way, this month’s issue of The Mail was distributed today. And, if you’re not on our mailing list, you can Download Mail110Apr.pdf right here.