The First 50 Years

The establishment of Parents and Friends in Queensland in 1961 was assisted greatly by Mr Bill Roberts, then Queensland Commonwealth Deputy Crown Solicitor, who had been heavily involved in the Western Australian Parents and Friends Federation which was the first such State Federation to be established in Australia.

Two other key foundation figures who were to influence the P & F Federation in a major way were Mr Jack Woodward, the Secretary and strength of the organisation for 20 years (1961-80) and Fr Barney O'Shea, Director of Catholic Education in the Archdiocese for many years and Spiritual Director and Mentor to the State Council until his retirement in 1988.

A timeline of major milestones is:




Proposal to Brisbane Council for Education requesting an official channel for lay people to speak with the highest authorities, church and state


Request to the Ecclesiastical Authority to establish a Provident fund


First access to some items from State Stores for Catholic schools


The Bishops Standing Committee was formed and authorised to speak with the State Government re the funding of Catholic schools.  The committee comprised a representative of the bishop from each diocese and the Archdiocese and a representative of the Federation


All articles were made available from State Stores to Catholic schools at government stores prices


Australian bishops set up the Federal Catholic Schools Committee (FCSC), the first attempt to co-ordinate lobbying efforts of all states in pursuit of 'state aid'.  A representative from the Bishops Standing Committee attended the federal meetings


The state government budget announced that primary school children attending non-government schools in Queensland would receive $25 per head


Improvement to federal and state per capita grants


Launch of the Archdiocese Development Fund


Federation introduced a new constitution establishing diocesan Parents and Friends committees with State Council membership being drawn from the Archdiocese and all country dioceses


State and Commonwealth governments agree to 20 per cent of government school costs as matching grant to non-government schools


State Council introduced new social and political issues onto the P & F agenda.  P & F Associations urged to become more involved in the educational life of the school and to make parents aware of other cultural and societal changes impacting on the schools e.g.  parent-teacher relationship, problems of the 'generation gap', the growing threat of drugs, the place of sport in school life, students and parish life


The first commonwealth government funding for capital purposes was agreed to by the Fraser ministry in the McMahon government, available only after the formation of the CSC in 1973


Establishment of the Commonwealth Schools Commission (CSC)

  • Federal per capita grants ceased
  • Introduction of funding by categories on a needs basis
  • Capital funding for non-government schools commenced

The Australian Parents Council (APC), successful in persuading the Senate to include in the Commonwealth Schools Commission Act 1973 the right of parents to choose a government or non-government school


Federation presented a submission on funding and parent concerns to the Commonwealth Schools Commission


The first meeting between the Commonwealth Schools Commission and the Federation


Federation Chairman invited to membership of the Commonwealth Schools Commission Advisory Board in Queensland


Regular negotiations with Commonwealth and State governments was now the order of the day


Continual gains were being made from all governments with other important assistance being won in addition to recurrent grants


  • Interest assistance on loans for school buildings 
  • Some assistance was provided by way of transport subsidy, 
  • Assistance for isolated children, 
  • Book allowances


  • Capital Grants Program
  • Disadvantaged Schools Program (DSP)
  • Priority Country Areas Program (PCAP)
  • Special Education Program


Federation's representation expands


The Queensland Intersystemic Parents Committee was formed bringing together in a formal manner representatives of the Federation of P&F Associations and the Queensland Council of Parents and Citizens Associations


Mr Jack Woodward retires. (State Secretary since foundation of the Federation in 1961)


The State Council of the Federation resolved to establish a permanent secretariat and appoint a full-time Executive Officer


The first Executive-Officer, Mr Leo M Dunne was appointed and commenced in office from the beginning of January.


Bob Hawke led a Labor government to power in March and Senator Susan Ryan became the Commonwealth Minister for Education. Decisions by Senator Ryan caused a great degree of nervousness in the non-government school sector e.g.

  • Reduced funding to 41 schools
  • Removal of the non-government parent representative from the CSC 
  • CSC membership given to Australian Teachers Federation Chairman, 
  • Break in the nexus between non-government school grants and government school costs


The Federation becomes part of the Bishops Standing Committee and works in a very close partnership with the Queensland Catholic Education Commission


Following persistent lobbying by the Federation, the 1984 state budget and a commitment by the Government for 1985 were the best result for many years, including

  • A four per cent increase in per capita grants in 1984-85 and 1985-86
  • Interest assistance improved

Achieved improved funding arrangements at commonwealth level following numerous meetings and consultations with key Ministers


Executive Officer was invited to membership of the National Catholic Education Commission (NCEC)


Federation incorporated