By Dr Vern Wilkinson

  1. Introduction
  2. The very beginnings
  3. From informality to Incorporation
  4. The RVPPA becomes incorporated in 1997
  5. The first Committee of Management 1994
  6. Additional members from 1994 onwards
  7. Other Roles During the Years
  8. Our Newsletters / Magazines
  9. Tributes and Eulogies
  10. Luncheon Venues
  11. Guest Speakers
  12. Outings
  13. Honours and Outstanding Achievements
  14. State Schools Relief
  15. Changes of Note
  16. From Here On

 We are indeed fortunate that from early days in our history we have maintained outstanding records by way of our regular newsletters/magazines.  It is from that source and from personal experience over the last 20 years that we are able to compile an outline of the history of the Retired Victorian Principals Association (RVPA), known earlier as the RVPPA (Retired Victorian Primary Principals Association).

 In 1987 a decision was made by a small group of recent retirees to keep in touch so an informal luncheon was arranged at  Rob’s Carousel Restaurant at Albert Park Lake.   We had enjoyed collegiality throughout  our careers and wanted to maintain that friendship.
It now being 20 years hence, we realise that many of us have been retired for a long time and are grateful for our superannuation fund.

45 attended the first luncheon in May 1988.  Subsequent luncheons saw colleagues come in from various country places as well as the city.   By October’s luncheon a list had been prepared of 250 who were known to have retired.  92 paid $5 each to launch the new group and the VPPA gave substantial financial assistance.

 With the support of the VPPA a  VPPA Retirees Group was under way.  Welcomed were all who had been principals regardless of whether they had been VPPA members or not.

 Of valuable assistance in these early days was Margaret Dozzi, the Executive Officer of the VPPA.

 We have been fortunate that each President of the VPPA in turn has been most supportive of the fledgling association.

 Bill Bewsher, Murray Landt, Maureen O’Bree, Margaret Reid and Merv Schier had formed  the original organising group.  Sadly Merv Schier died.  At that stage Joan Hamilton and Vern Wilkinson joined the organising group.  Meetings at the home of Bill Bewsher became renown for the wonderful cream puffs and cakes Bill supplied.

 It was aimed to have two luncheons annually and so boldly the fifth luncheon was planned for May 3 at the Southern Cross Hotel’s Palm Court Room. 

 We would probably have continued on as an informal group had it not been for a threat to the indexation arrangements for all those covered by the State Superannuation Fund.

 Along with several organisations representing state instrumentalities the RVPPA   became a foundation member of the Combined Council  of Associations of State Retirees [known now as The Council of State Retirees Association].   Our representatives have held office and we have had the benefit of first hand accounts of the many changes taking place which concern our welfare.

 The twice yearly cost of living payments were resumed.  The Council has since those early days continued to monitor not only superannuation benefits but  taxation and social security benefits.  It gained access to not only state but national bodies so it gave the constituents direct access to decision makers.

 RVPA has attended all meetings of the Council and reports have regularly appeared in our newsletters.  We have been fortunate in having members of our RVPPA Committee of Management who have devoted much time and effort into the work of the Combined Council.

 In 1997 RVPA made a presentation to Neal Edwards who had been the initiator of the Combined Council and who had worked tirelessly to make it an influential body.

 To become an active participant, RVPPA had to become a formal body with a constitution and then become incorporated.  The inaugural Annual General Meeting was held May 5, 1994.  At that time 345 members were registered. 

 The original aims were to meet old friends in pleasant surroundings and to chat and imbibe.  Incorporation meant using more sophisticated wording but in effect the original aims have continued on and are just as strong now in the twentieth year of our existence. The survival of the RVPPA (now RVPA) has certainly been due to the strength of these aims.

 Amendments have been made when necessary such as enlarging the Committee of Management, the introduction of two extra levels of membership (10 years and life) and the legal requirement to cater for dispute resolution.

The first Committee of Management 1994:

 President:                    Murray Landt

 Vice-President             Margaret Reid     

Secretary                      Vern Wilkinson  

Treasurer                     Bill Bewsher  

Commitee Members    Maureen O'Bree &  Joan Hamilton

Additional members from 1994 onwards:

Margaret Atkins            Colin Crawford             Ray Dennis

Rowan Ebbels              David Harradence        Geoff Pratt

John Ragas                  Flo Robinson               John Solomon

Wilf Thorsen                 David Tydeman            Margaret Veitch

Helen Worladge           Lee Barmby                 Mary Holloway           

John Gow                   Leon Wallis                 Colin McPherson

Elida Brereton            Marj Hookey

Role of President 

Murray Landt            1994 - 1997            Margaret Reid            1997 - 2002

Brian Williams            2002 - 2007           Helen Worladge         2007 - 2011         

David Tydeman        2011 -


Margaret Reid            1994 - 1997           Brian Williams        1997 - 2002

Rowan Ebbels            2002 - 2004           Alan Morris            2004 - 2008

David Tydeman          2008 - 2011           Colin Crawford     2011 - 2014   

Colin McPherson          2015 -


Vern Wilkinson            1994 - 1997            Wilf Thorsen            1997 - 1998

Margaret Veitch          1998 - 1999           Chris Cairney           1999 - 2010         

John Gow                  2010 - 2012

Mary Holloway          2012 -


Bill Bewsher            1994                          David Harradence     1995 - 1998

Wilf Thorsen            1998 -  2009             Ray Dennis                2009 -       

David and Wilf planned investment strategies which have been of great benefit  over the years.

Public Officer                                      

Geof Pratt            1995 - 2000            Alan Morris            2000 - 2011               

John Gow           2011 - 2012

Mary Holloway   2012 -


Harry Buckland            1998 - 2000                          

Newsletter Producer                                     

John Ragas            1998 - 2000                          

Editor / Newsletter Producer                                     

John Ragas            2000 -                           


Vern Wilkinson       1998 - 2003            Norm Denny            2003 - 2009      

RAY Dennis          2009 -

Norm has analysed our statistics and we have the advantage of his skills and eye for detail in tracing our growth and inspiring our drive to encourage recent retirees to join RVPA.                                     

Our newsletters/magazines

In the very early days of our existence as a group, there was a decision made to publish newsletters which would communicate with everyone whether they were able to attend luncheons or not.  We have had membership spread right across Victoria and interstate, as far as Queensland where some decided to retire but wanted to maintain contact.

 Margaret Reid became our inaugural editor and Margaret Dozzi  became involved with typing initially.  Then Vern Wilkinson and his computer prepared the copy.

 The VPPA for some years generously printed our publication as well as making a substantial donation of money.  We had volunteers from our membership to collate and post out the newsletters.

 Members were urged to contribute and the reader of our 43 editions can only be amazed at the quality of articles and the vast variety of topics.

 In 1995 a Publications Committee was appointed to ease the burden on the one or two who produced the newsletters.  For a while we received financial support from a few sponsors.

 Under the editorship of Harry Buckland and then John Ragas the standard of production has soared ahead.  We are now into the era of colour printing, splendid graphics and modern styles of both presentation and production.  We found that we could afford to contract with commercial printing firms with the overall result that we have a magazine that would rank highly in any circles.  We acknowledge that Colin Crawford has dispatched the newsletters for some years now.

 The following list of topics in general will give some idea of the scope of the excellent literary skills of our members.  Quite a number of them became regular contributors and realised their skills that perhaps were dormant until retirement came about.  Some have gone on to publish their own writing.

Topics include: 

advice on pensions and forms of assistance; articles by the President; artists in our ranks reflect on their work; cartoons; a carer’s role; celebrations; classroom songs; clever articles playing on words etc.; college days; continental cuisine; editorials of fine quality; family history; fiction, First Aid; gardening; geography; health issues; humour; letters to the editor; literature appraisals; lots of advice on ageing; music; nostalgia; notice boards; philosophy; poems; quotes; the role of Bill Bewsher in the formation of the Police Search and Rescue Squad; recollections of the history of the VPPA by each ex-President; reports on all sort of things; special reports on our outings (with photos); reunions; the Royal Air Force and the role of a pilot; the now defunct Somers Seminars for Principals; sports - tennis umpiring, golf club, bowls tournaments; fishing, the Ashes; sailing, croquet; student bloopers; student profiles (Rose Stanton et al), playing Sudoku; tours our members have undertaken; travel all over the world, Zoe Roffe articles revisited.

Some who went overseas to live temporarily wrote of their experiences.  We now welcome new members and introduce them by their profiles.

But that is only a sample of the range of literary contributions of our talented membership.

Each edition publishes the minutes of our meetings and we have also grown accustomed to a comprehensive report by our representatives on the Combined Council.

Tributes and Eulogies 

Sadly we have acknowledged the lives and contributions of those who have passed on from this life.  Our policy has been to seek eulogies from colleagues or relatives of the deceased and then publish them in our magazines.

The list is considerable:~

Dr Graham Allen               Fred Anderson              Murray Baud

Wally Briggs                     Bruce Burns                  Frank Burtonclay

John Cabassi                     Murray callaghan          Alister Clarke

Ray Chalmers                   Lorna Cronin                 Cyril Cummins

Colin Dawson (aged 95) Gwen Dodgshun             Faye Dunkley

Dr Jeffrey Dunstone        John Fielding                  Pat Franklin

Con Frisby                       Marie Fry                        David Harradence

Edwin Hill                       Fred Holcombe               John Ilott

Jean little                  Clarice Matthews (Cox)        Dr Jeffrey Northfield

Stuart Lucena                  Harold Lunn                   John MacDonnell

Alan Martin                    Ronald McKendrick        Tony McNamara

Alan Mill                        Dr Jan Mongan                Dr Brian Murphy

John F. Murphy             Dorothea Palmer               Kevin O’Brien

Anne O'Riley                 Harry Pamphilon              Alan Pask

Gerald Pye                      Joyce Ridley                    Flo Robinson

Merv Schier                   Ed Seppings                     Graham Swanborough

Ken Thibou                   John Toll                           Ern Tonkin

Lois Wade               June Waters (Burlock)           Graham Welton

Laurie Wheelahan  Graham Keith Wiebusch        Eric Wilkinson

Ian Willcox   

Luncheon Venues

After our early days at Albert Park  Lake we met from 1995 at The Southern Cross and found the central location there very satisfactory until the hotel faced refurbishment .  We then moved to The Sheraton in Spring Street, again very central.  [Later it changed its name to Mercure Hotel].  Here  we were again able to negotiate the use of a meeting room and a  three course meal thanks to the negotiating skills of Murray Landt.  This arrangement continued until 2007 when costs escalated and we moved to the present venue (RSL) thanks to the negotiations of our President, Helen Worladge.

Guest Speakers

From time to time there have been guest speakers at our meetings.  They include:

 Dr Graham Whitehead

Lyn Jenkins, VTU Credit Union Financial Advisor

Fred Ackerman, President of the VPA

Sue Hendy CEO for the Council for the Ageing

Deborah Patterson [her role as the project officer for a new sports academy and a sister school link with Korea]

Helen Worladge on Western Chances

Peter Leonard - Kanevsky on superannuation matters [more than once]

Debbie Beasley (Apple Travel)

Laurie Bunn (Puffing Billy)

Dr Don Sinclair (Australian College of Seniors)

Harold Bird O.B.E.  (member) and his work with National Boys’ Choir of Australia

Rev Jock Ryan and early history of Melbourne.

Stuart Greenwood, Superannuation Board

Neal Edwards and Peter Meyer (Combined Council)

Faye Thomas (member)

Colin Crawford (member)

Wilf Thorsen (member) about pyrotechnics in a French village

Lyn Jenkin, VTU Credit Union

Heather Swift (Golden Days radio)

John Eyres (Australian Volunteer Coast Guard)


As the years have passed by our Association has endeavored to expand the scope of providing for the needs of members.  Following surveys undertaken, one such avenue was the planning of occasional outings and Margaret Reid and Rowan Ebbels (2002 - 2007) and others have undertaken to provide wonderful opportunities to see and experience the wealth of venues available to us.

Some of these have been:

The Yarra Valley; Geelong; Castlemaine; Ballarat,  Mornington Peninsula.  Rupertswood;  Wandin Homestead and Rhododendron Gardens in the Dandenongs; Seeing Eye Dog Centre, Airways Museum, Police Museum; Flemington Racecourse, Maribyrnong River cruise in tram boat, Mornington Market and The Briars Homestead at Mt. Martha; Jindivick Gourmet Deli Tour; City Experience (various venues); Christmas in July (3 occasions), Government House, Graeme Eaton’s gardens in Olinda

These have all been successful and well attended.

In honour of ...

We have been proud of the distinguished achievements of some of our members:

The Australian Government’s Honours list has acknowledged Harold Bird, Bruce Peake, Alan Mill and Flo Robinson with O.A.M.. 

The several instances of public recognition of Flo by Bendigo organisations  were recorded in our magazine.  Flo was fiercely proud of Bendigo and she never shirked from regular attendance at our meetings, committee meetings  and outings.  She claimed  to be a Devil’s Advocate at our meetings.   Her eulogy bears witness to the many honours bestowed on her.

 RVPPA was shocked at the premature death in 1998 of its Treasurer, David Harradence, and as an indication of his contributions and his energy and devotion to the Association, funding for three seats was raised by donations from members.  They were donated to Puffing Billy Railway during a day out on the famous railway.

 In 1993 RVPPA  honoured Margaret Dozzi as an Honorary Life Member in recognition of her service to the VPPA and also to RVPPA.

 Then more recently, in 2003, the RVVPA resolved to recognise a group of its members with life membership: ~

Flo Robinson, Murray Landt, Margaret Reid, and Vern Wilkinson

 Margaret Reid was also honoured by the VPA in 2004  with life membership.

State Schools Relief

Annually we have supported the State Schools Relief and many hundreds of dollars have been donated. 

One donation was made in 2005 - 6 was for $1,000. 

The support of Apple Travel with prizes related to travel has been much appreciated in this annual effort.

Changes of note

original logo2nd logo

Thanks to the VPA and Global Multi Media plus some enthusiasts amongst our  Committee, we have ventured into cyberspace. 

We have a web page [www.rvpa.org.au] and our existence has been heralded to goodness knows where.

 We have upgraded our logo from the original which depicted a retiree lounging in a deck chair.

We decided against a badge for the Association early in our history.

 A colourful brochure now introduces  the Association to those seeking information and perhaps contemplating joining RVPA. 

recent logo

 We have always been indebted to the VPA and when VPPA changed its name to VPA to be more inclusive of all principals in the changed education system  RVPPA did likewise.

From here on:

2007 saw initiatives to take us into the next decade.  The change of venue for meetings and the innovative approaches to the format of our gatherings are underway in this the 20th  year of our history.  We do not know in which way we will continue to function in the immediate future and beyond.  We do not know how viable we will remain but our aims remain as strong as they have always been.

 The purposes for which the Association is established are:

 (1)       To represent retired Primary School Principals of the Victorian Education Department and its successors in matters relating to the preservation of their rights and privileges.

 (2)       To organise and facilitate social events.

 (3)       To respond to the expressed needs of members.

 We continue to enjoy our collegiality.


May 2008.

Some post 2008 office bearers (above) have been updated and are indicated in red