Pi­o­neer among ed­u­ca­tors


Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - Belmont - Jaime Shurmer

CON­SCRIPTED in 1967, Bel­mont’s Rob Daniel taught small groups of in­dige­nous sol­diers in Port Moresby in 1970.

Novem­ber 24 marks the 50th an­niver­sary of the Na­tional Ser­vice Scheme in­tro­duced by the Men­zies Gov­ern­ment in 1964.

Of the 63,000 young men con­scripted, about 15,000 went to Viet­nam. Mr Daniel was one of 45 na­tional ser­vice­men teach­ing in New Guinea for 16 months.

“We were within the Ed­u­ca­tion Corp and worked with in­dige­nous sol­diers, the teach­ing of some Aus­tralian sol­diers ser­vices in New Guinea, and we did some com­mu­nity work,” Mr Daniel said.

He en­abled pri­vates and non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cers to achieve army cer­tifi­cate qual­i­fi­ca­tions and qual­ify for pro­mo­tions. The sol­diers were taught a range of typ­i­cal sub­jects, in­clud­ing so­cial stud­ies, his­tory and pol­i­tics.

“Con­scrip­tion was done on the ba­sis of birth date. When the mar­ble with your birth date was pulled up, on your 20th birth­day you were con­scripted,” Mr Daniel said.

Peo­ple could only be ex­empt on med­i­cal grounds or con­sci­en­tious ob­jec­tion, he said.

“I clearly would have pre­ferred not to have gone.

“It was dur­ing the pe­riod of the Viet­nam War so it was po­ten­tially high risk. My fam­ily was not de­lighted by any means and many of the men were mar­ried or had steady girl­friends so there was sep­a­ra­tion.”

Mr Daniel mar­ried June in Septem­ber 1970 and she was al­lowed to stay with him for the re­main­der of his time in Port Moresby.

Mr Daniel said he was sent away when he had done a year of teach­ing in WA, so while it ef­fec­tively put his ca­reer on hold it also pre­sented other op­por­tu­ni­ties.

He said the ex­pe­ri­ence had a last­ing im­pact, was a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence and gave him a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive on the world.

“As a young per­son with a ter­tiary qual­i­fi­ca­tion it helped in­form my later work,” Mr Daniel said.

He re­turned to lead high schools in South Aus­tralia and WA and re­tired 10 years ago.

But when South­ern Gazette called last week he was su­per­vis­ing exams at Trin­ity Col­lege, ob­vi­ously still com­mit­ted to the ed­u­ca­tion of Aus­tralian stu­dents.

Pic­ture: Martin Ken­nealey

Teacher Rob Daniel, who was con­scripted in 1967, taught small groups of in­dige­nous sol­diers in Port Moresby.

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