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4. THE FIRST TRANSITION: FROM TEACHERS’ COLLEGE TO STATE COLLEGE OF VICTORIA AT FRANKSTON – 1974 TO 1982

The State Government of Victoria under the leadership of Liberal Premier, Sir Henry Bolte, passed the State College of Victoria Act 1972.

This was followed by an Order of Council effective 1 August 1973 constituting the State College of Victoria at Frankston. The new name and status of the College first appeared on the annual Handbook in 1974.

Following the retirement due to ill health of George Jenkins, a new Principal, Douglas Watson BA, B.Ed, TPTC, MACE, was appointed. He became the first principal of the new autonomous college in 1974. During Jenkins’ period as Principal, the two-year course for the Trained Primary Teachers’ Certificate and the three-year course for the Trained Infant Teachers’ Certificate were replaced by the Diploma of Teaching (Primary). In 1974 enrolment at the new State College of Victoria at Frankston was 900.

An extensive building program had begun in 1972 enlarging and improving facilities at Frankston. Twin four-storey tower blocks provided a new library and resource centre, student lounge and cafeteria, staff lounge and dining area. Offices and lecture rooms for Education, English and Mathematics were opened in 1974.

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Figure 5 Frankston Icarus Sculpture 1972
Monash University Archives, MON 1206, State College of Victoria Frankston Yearbooks

One major event of 1973 was the opening of the new theatre, library and student union. In his opening address, Education Minister and Deputy Premier, Lindsay Thompson declared that Frankston Teachers’ College had made a magnificent contribution to schools in south-east Melbourne, the peninsula and Gippsland and predicted growth in the future. The theatre, named after George Jenkins, was conceived by George Pappas, who saw it as a major teaching space for dramatic arts. That dream was never realised, however, the George Jenkins Theatre did fulfil a community role as, at the time, there was no other theatre facility available in the Frankston area. In the turbulent year of 1975, politics came to the campus when a request was made to the College for the George Jenkins Theatre to be made available for a meeting to discuss the constitutional crisis. After considerable discussion, Council agreed that the theatre should be available to any outside organisation (Council Minutes, 28 November 1975).

Early in the College’s life as the State College of Victoria at Frankston, Australia experienced perhaps one of its most disturbing years, both socially and politically: it was the year 1975. This was a turbulent year for the Australian population – it was also reflected by a degree of unrest experienced by the students at the State College.

REMEMBERING 1975 – SERVING THE BEST INTEREST OF THE MAJORITY

1975 is remembered in Australian history for the dismissal on 11 November by the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, of the Whitlam Labour Government. This event almost stopped the nation; it caused great controversy at the time and has remained an issue of contention ever since.

The Government was dismissed by Kerr because of Gough Whitlam’s failure to secure supply and his refusal to resign or recommend a dissolution (Cowen, 2006: 303). There was widespread shock and criticism, as well as support for the Governor-General’s action. This event, however, created deep and bitter division in Australian society, a rift that healed slowly over time.

Conflict between individual personalities and the student representative body, the SRC, also emerged during 1975 at Frankston. It was a difficult time. In the pages of Struan, members of the SRC spoke out about their troubled year. Dissident individuals and factions had caused havoc. The increase in student numbers and the possibility of an oversupply of teachers appears to have created a degree of uncertainty. Enrolments at the SCV at Frankston reached 1086 (Norris & Partners, 1975). It is conceivable that the political events of the year also unsettled the student body more than they imagined.

Douglas Watson, the Principal, wrote in his annual report in Struan that the SRC Executive had served in the best interest of the majority of students in 1975 and that he respected the way they achieved their goal.

The SRC’s Vice-President went a little further and warned students that:

Acting as an individual, not supporting SRC policy and decisions, causes conflict, factions and confusion. This occurred in 1975. I hope it will not happen to the 1976 Executive (Struan, 1975).

The strong message running throughout the 1975 edition of Struan was that individualism and factionalism was problematic for the healthy working of a democratically elected SRC.

Notwithstanding the political problems of the year, social events, especially live entertainment, was a major hit. Frankston students enjoyed a stellar line-up of all-time great Australian rock bands performing at the College. Now legendary names such as Ross Ryan, Skyhooks, Ayers Rock, Bushwackers, Richard Clapton, Captain Matchbox and the Whoopee Band, Dingoes and Split Enz all played at Frankston. Lorraine Osborne, a first year student, wrote enthusiastically in Struan that:

In my opinion, we have had a great line up of groups this year, two that immediately come to mind are ‘Skyhooks’ and ‘The Hot City Bump Band’ … so let’s keep the flag flying at this college (Struan: 1975).

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Figure 6 Skyhooks Concert at Frankston 1975
Monash University Archives, MON 1206 State College of Victoria Frankston Yearbooks

Highlights of the year for students also included a huge variety of sporting activities, music, recreation clubs, theatre and the first SCV Frankston feminist Women’s Activist Group was formed.

More so than any other year in its history, students at Frankston were politically active during 1975 – whether individually, as a radical faction, as part of the SRC, or protesting politely in the pages of Struan – student opinion of all shades was made public.

PROGRESSIVE CHANGES IN COURSE OFFERINGS AT FRANKSTON

Frankston was slowly diversifying and expanding its course offerings. Additions to the 1959 courses did not take place until 1968 when the Diploma of Teaching (Primary) was added, and in 1976 the Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood) commenced. In 1977, the Graduate Diploma in Education (Multicultural Education) was introduced, followed in 1978 by the Diploma of Teaching (Primary) which formed part of the Bachelor of Education. In the same year, the Graduate Diploma in Art Education was offered.

The State College of Victoria’s Annual Report described the year 1977 as a year ‘of frustration and uncertainty’. This uncertainty was intensified by the substitution of annual for triennial funding by the Fraser Government, and by the replacement of the Advanced, Technical and Further Education and the Universities Commissions with the Tertiary Education Commission and its three advisory councils (Annual Report 1977:5). The year was also made more difficult for the SCV by the existence of State and Federal Inquiries into the whole field of post-secondary education, the result of which would not be played out for some time. It was the precursor of many disruptive years ahead.

The 1977 Annual Report also noted that under the chairmanship of Mr Justice Asche, the Council promoted the future role of the College as a regional college in its submission to the Committee inquiring into Post-Secondary Education. One result of the submission to the inquiry was the decision to encourage community members to become more aware of the staff and student population at the College, and in particular, to utilise facilities on campus. Invitations were extended to local groups to visit the College and meet members of the Council and staff. Additionally, a wide range of evening classes and lectures was offered for members of the local community. These proved very successful and, together with the provision of courses for the up-grading of teachers’ qualifications and in-service courses for practising teachers, the College fulfilled its charters as a more comprehensive institution in its service to the community (Annual Report 1977: 23).

The Victorian Teachers’ Union boycotted the supervision of student teachers in schools in 1977 and this meant that school experience for pre-service students was difficult. However, the good relationship the College had built up with the local schools enabled limited training to take place.

Doug Watson, the first Principal of the State College of Victoria at Frankston, retired in March 1977 and the leadership of the College passed to Dr Graham Trevaskis, BA, B.Ed., MA, Ed.D., TPTC, formerly Principal of the SCV at Ballarat. Under his direction a new organisational structure was proposed, debated and endorsed by staff and Council. It took effect from 1978. The College was also preparing to teach some of its courses away from McMahons Road in primary and secondary schools, teaching centres and colleges of technical and further education. These moves aimed to service the needs of part-time students through studies being offered externally as well as after normal school hours.

The year 1980, in which the College celebrated 21 years as a post-secondary education institution, proved to be difficult and dramatic. The recommendations of the Victorian Post-Secondary Education Commission foreshadowed the fact that Frankston would in the future become more than an institution to train teachers and would evolve into a multi-disciplinary institute of higher education (Annual Report 1980: 3). Serving the region, however, remained its first priority, and this was reiterated by Trevaskis in the annual reports from 1977 to 1981. Additional courses were offered: in 1979 the Graduate Diploma in Educational Administration and the Graduate Diploma in Educational Studies (Learning Difficulties in Language and Mathematics) and in 1980 the Graduate Diploma in Music Therapy.

The name and structure of the College was soon to change. The increased and changing needs of the local residents for post-secondary education were the basis of this move. In May 1981 the Minister of Education, Alan Hunt, announced the recommendations of the Victorian Post-Secondary Education Commission. They included the dissolution of the Council of SCV Frankston; that Caulfield Institute of Technology accept responsibility for the provision of advanced education in the Frankston region by establishing a campus there; and that a 1984 target total student load for the Caulfield Institute of Technology (on both the Caulfield and Frankston campuses) be 4600, of whom 800 were to be located at Frankston. The die was set. Frankston, which had remained a single-purpose college of advanced education for 22 years, was being forced to amalgamate with another institution, diversify and expand to become a multi-disciplinary institution of higher or advanced education. In 1973, when he attended the opening of the George Jenkins Theatre, the then Education Minister and Deputy Premier, Lindsay Thompson, projected that the college could develop into a complex with between 2000 and 3000 students. He saw the strength and vitality that was evident at the College at the time. His prescient words became reality more than thirty years later.

Still Learning

   by Fay Woodhouse