Welcome to the Belyando - Mt Coolon Branch!
The Belyando/Mt Coolon branch has an average of 45 member families each year. Children from these families attend schools of distance education (Capricornia and Charters Towers), boarding schools, agricultural colleges, undergo apprenticeships away from home and some attend tertiary institutions.
Meetings are held quarterly, usually at someone’s property or at the Mt Coolon community centre. We welcome families to our meetings and our branch is happy for children to attend. Often the wonderful Remote Area Families Service (RAFS) assist by running a playgroup on the day.
ISSUES OF CONCERN FOR OUR BRANCH
- Implementation of the Australian Curriculum and its impact on schools of distance education
- Year 7 moving to secondary school
- Youth allowance – Living away from home allowance
- Changes to Priority Country Area Programs
Branch Life members:
- Marion Fletcher
Branch members who have served on State Council:
- Penny Wallace 1985 - 1990
- Judy Camm 1992 - 1995
- Amanda Clark 2019 - current
Compiled by Robyn Russell
The inaugural meeting of the Belyando/Mt Coolon branch was held on 24 August, 1984 with 12 people in attendance, under the shade of the old mango tree at Mt Douglas homestead. The largest branch at this time was the Cairns Radio Branch which was vast – in both numbers and distance covered. Cairns branch members, Reid Russell and Penny Wallace believed that due to the increasing number of members in the Belyando Crossing and Mt Coolon area, a local branch could be formed.
The first branch executive included:
- President - Penny Wallace
- Vice President - Magaret Maloney
- Secretary/Treasurer - Bridget Corr
- Publicity Officer - Robyn Russell
Between 1984 - 1988, Robyn Russell supplied regular ICPA news to readers through monthly articles in the Cattleman, North Queensland Register, Pedals and other rural publications. Robyn was also responsible (and acknowledged) for providing the title for the ICPA booklet, I Can Provide Answers.
Many branch members have represented the Belyando/Mt Coolon branch at state and federal conferences with our life member, Marion Fletcher, one of our most ardent delegates. Branch members have also assisted with two state conferences - Mackay and Clermont.
In 1987, the need for information about our Queensland Boarding Schools was recognised by Bridget Corr. In response to this need Bridget collected data on scholarships and bursaries for the benefit of Queensland members.
From 1985 - 1990 the first Itinerant Governess Scheme in Queensland was shaped and coordinated by branch member Robyn Russell. Initially, two governesses (usually teachers) serviced about 17 families who lived in an area which stretched from Cape Tribulation, west to Hughenden, east to Bowen and south to Clermont. The nucleus of the families lived in the Belyando/Mt Coolon region. In 1985, Robyn and Penny served on the Queensland Rural Industry Training Committee (as ICPA representatives) to assist with developing a Governess Tutor Training course at TAFE, with courses being offered in Brisbane and Emerald.
The first Distance Education Conference held in Brisbane was the turning point for correspondence students in Queensland and was attended by branch member, Penny Wallace. This conference opened the doors for the Primary Correspondence School in Brisbane, to accept the home tutor as part of the education system. In 1986, Penny and Robyn as Belyando/Mt Coolon branch representatives were appointed to the Ministerial Liaison Advisory committee for the setting up of the Charters Towers School of Distance Education.
In the formative years, members looked forward to branch meetings as much was gained from sharing ideas and problems. Prominent guests also attended meetings which added to the interest. More importantly, breaking away from Cairns Radio Branch meant that members could have face to face contact with other branch members. This hasn’t always been easy as depending on whether the meeting was held at Mt Coolon or Belyando Crossing, members (especially our dedicated past president Judy Camm) have at times travelled for up to five hours to attend a meeting.
Through strong involvement with Distance Education, two members were encouraged to participate at State ICPA level. Penny Wallace served on Queensland Council from 1985 – 1990, with three of those years as State Treasurer. Judy Camm was a member of State Council from 1992-1995, with two of those years as Assistant State Secretary.