Pioneer among educators
SOLDIERS WERE HIS STUDENTS
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.
Teacher Rob Daniel, who was conscripted in 1967, taught small groups of indigenous soldiers in Port Moresby.