Every group, if it is to be cohesive, needs a melder: that special person who values the group of work colleagues beyond its working life and supports it into the often richer times that follow. Who operates in a role that brings the group together – not once, but many times - to remember the good, laugh about the bad and forget old enmities, the trivial causes of which have long since dissipated. Roy Clark is a melder.
Roy’s specific area of meld is academic staff of the former Kuring-gai College of Advanced Education, now a campus of Sydney’s University of Technology. An official publication has it that “the Kuring-gai staff network has developed from the strong commitment of former staff members to stay in touch with colleagues and their professional lives”. But we all appreciate that commitment of itself is and achieves nothing. It’s the person exercising that commitment who maintains the relationships. And Roy is one such person.
Because Balmain was ASOPA’s, for want of a better and more acrid word, mentor; and because, in time, Balmain begat Kuring-gai; and because, in time, so many ASOPA lecturers continued and ended their careers at Kuring-gai, the affiliation between the two places was and remains very strong. In a recent letter to the network, Roy writes of his first brush with those weatherboard huts on Middle Head:
In 1965 I was appointed to Balmain Teachers College and was, within an hour of signing on - not a minute too soon after I took a quick look around the old Balmain college - and I was then sent over to the Australian School of Pacific Administration to train (Australian) science teachers for PNG in old army huts on Middle Head, Mosman. Incidentally without doubt the best place I ever worked; it was the mix of State and Commonwealth staff and the freedom allowed by the Commonwealth Principal, Jack Mattes, a lawyer. Jack took the view we were the professionals and he expected us, and left us, to get on with the job. I believe everyone did get on with their job and were grateful for the opportunities we were given there, even if the facilities were only basic.
Thanks for the memories, Roy.