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October 2005



JEFF CHAPMAN [Canberra ACT] - Robyn and I are booked into the Concierge for the Saturday night. We are staying with our daughter on the Friday and Sunday. See you then and many thanks for your great and continued efforts with The Mail and the Great Occasion. PS, Did I really want tomato sauce with my sweet and sour pork? Ugh! Might it have been soy sauce for the fried rice? Dave and Kerry Argent swear that it was the former, but could you ever trust a bloke who drove a Morris Minor?

SUSAN DENHELD [Sue Lega] [Woodend VIC] - What a reunion you have planned! I had hoped to join you all and renew the old acquaintances but unfortunately not to be this time - again. Your newsletter is always a happy time spent reading about and remembering times gone by and then catching up with current news of all classmates. I get to Sydney occasionally - time seems to be so short and rushed even though my intentions of saying hello are on the agenda, I will keep trying. Procrastination is my middle name. I have been meaning to email you all and say ‘Hi’ but, anyway, here I am at last and hope to keep up the contact now I have finally typed the words.

JUSTINE FINTER [Mapleton QLD] - Very much regret to inform you that circumstances prevent me from joining your good self and that wonderful group of people for the reunion. I was so looking forward to catching up with as many as possible this time around but that is not to be. My recent trip to Moresby to fulfill cultural obligations was hectic to say the least as I had to pack a lot into the short time I was there. Will fill you in with details of my time there at a later date.

MICK WILSON [Eltham VIC] - Sorry I have been away on holidays with the grandchildren in Qld for the last two weeks. Unfortunately we will not be able to attend the reunion. Drove around the old ASOPA area at Middle Head recently and was amazed by the opening up and restoration going on. I hope you all have a great time and look forward to attending the next one.

ANN PRENDERGAST [Waverton NSW] - I went to see Walk into Paradise and stayed for a drink afterwards but was outside with the smokers so that’s perhaps why I didn't see you. I spoke to the film star, Freddie Kaad, prior to the opening, he was surrounded by autograph hunters. He told me later that he had seen you and was thinking of coming the reunion.

I've given all my Papua New Guinea books, material and my thesis on the London Missionary Society in British New Guinea to the Golding Centre for Research in Women's History, Theology and Spirituality in the Institute for the Advancement of Research at the Australian Catholic University. Some of your contacts might be interested in the information I received from them last week - "There is a mission history conference being held in Canberra in July next year, titled 'Mission and Empire'. They are inviting papers on missionary outreach and how this interacted with the spread of 19th century empires. PNG would make a good case study, as the missions there preceded the imperial takeover."

You may have seen the article Alan Ramsay wrote recently in the Sydney Morning Herald on the anniversary of the murder of the Anglican Missionary Sisters during the war - this seems to indicate that there is still a great interest in Papua New Guinea among some people.

RUTH FINK LATUKEFU [Newport Beach NSW] - Last night there were well over 100 people crowded into the Nelson Heather Centre, North Narrabeen to hear Jeff McMullen talk on Syndrome X- the new Black Death which was basically about the crisis in indigenous education and health, especially in the Northern Territory. He claimed that this year around 10,000 indigenous children were born, many with mothers only 13 or 14 years old, and that illiteracy rates in some communities are as high as 93%. Geoff now works in conjunction with Ian Thorpe’s Fountain of Youth Trust which aims to develop health education and literacy among the young, with special focus on Aboriginal communities. Their website is and they are currently raising money to send books to indigenous communities where literacy is so low. The project is called Australian Readers’ Challenge

I was shocked at some of the information he gave, on what surely must be a serious decline in education and health over the past forty-five years since ASOPA trained teachers (to whom I remember lecturing in 1960) were being sent to Northern Territory schools, and in their time there were many innovative educational efforts. There seems to be a shortage of skilled teachers as well as health professionals and it made me wonder if among some of your ASOPA network there are those who went to the Northern Territory and who may have some valuable advice for people involved with the current situation. In Australia we seem so often to be “reinventing the wheel”, completely ignorant of the past or ignoring what has been learned, of ten by costly failed experiments. I am sure some of the ex-ASOPA teachers with their valuable field experience can contribute to the current debates and throw more light on why this educational catastrophe has come about. That is why I thought I would contact you, as I know you will shortly be having a get together of the ASOPA ‘oldies’ (for me they are still young) and some of them may be interested in doing something about Jeff McMullen’s efforts to raise public conscience and awareness.

JUSTINE FINTER [Mapleton QLD] - I would most certainly like to offer my support for Brian and Nammie. As a Papua New Guinean I have some understanding of the situation they are in. I’ve just returned from a trip to Moresby and was amazed at family members who without hesitation took on the responsibility of raising children of relatives without having to sign any adoption papers. Having lived in PNG you know there are no orphanages as this has been the practise for a long time and is considered part of the cultural norm. Maybe an anthropologist would best explain to those in charge of the situation and make them realise she is truly a part of the family and therefore should be returned to be with them in a loving and caring environment. I'm sorry I am still not as good with the computer but getting a bit more confident. I do wish Brian and Nammie every success and pray they get a favourable outcome. Please pass on best wishes and I will try to get in touch with them myself.

DAVID DONALDSON [Adelaide SA] - Came across the site by googling “Admin College”. I spent ten days at Middle Head in October 1964 before taking up the new job of registrar at the very unready, even notional, Administrative College in Port Moresby. Heavens, that’s forty years ago! We had great times. Good luck to all the ed people. And to your own endeavor.

You can contact David at 08 8344 7055.