October 2012 Letters

Opinions expressed in the pages of the magazine are those of the signed contributors or the editor and do not necessarily represent the official position of the University of Sydney.

Charles Perkins and early Aboriginal students

I’m delighted at the naming of the centre for research into obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease after Charles Perkins (The Fight Against Fat, SAM July 2012). However, there has always been some confusion about the early Aboriginal students. Charlie and Garry Williams enrolled at Sydney in 1963, as did Margaret Valadian and Betty Anderson at Queensland University.

All were assisted with Abschol scholarships, an initiative of the National Union of Australian University Students which also funded tutoring, research and public advocacy.

Margaret subsequently became the first postgraduate student and had an important position at the University of Hawaii. Charlie, of course, also had the assistance of his soccer skills and this helped support his family.

The Hon Tom Roper (BA ’67)
Southbank Victoria

Margaret Weir

I am wondering why Dr Margaret Weir never gets mentioned in this context. As Margaret Williams, she graduated from the University of Melbourne in 1959 with a Diploma of Physical Education and is the first recorded Aboriginal graduate in Australia. Although she was from northern NSW, Margaret went first to Queensland University and then to the University of Melbourne.

Margaret (Duncan) Sim (BA ’54 DipEd ’55)
Epping NSW


Henry Halloran, larger than life

I am a retired surveyor and a member of the Senior Surveyors Group, a subset of the Institution of Surveyors NSW, and also a graduate in town planning from the University of Sydney. I was taken by the news item (SAM, July 2012) regarding the gift from the estate of the late Henry Halloran. That report brought back many memories of my time at the University during the 1960s, working with Professors John Toon and Denis Winston, and the staff of the Town Planning Department.

The name of Henry Halloran brought back to mind the man I had read and learned about from members of the surveying profession, as well as from descendants of his family. Halloran was a developer, entrepreneur, surveyor and engineer, a man well ahead of his time and a visionary in aspects of town planning.

Henry Halloran is also remembered within the ranks of the surveying profession through the establishment many years ago, by the Institution of Surveyors NSW, of an award entitled the HF Halloran Prize which is awarded to surveyors and members of the institution, in recognition of services to the profession in a particular sphere.

John Curdie (DipTCPlan ’67 ME ’95)
Beecroft NSW

The other Halloran

I was surprised that John Toon (SAM, July 2012) did not refer to the other close association that the Halloran family had with planning at the University. In 1966 Warren Halloran’s brother, Laurence, completed a postgraduate Diploma in Town and Country Planning at the University of Sydney.

Anthony Winter (BA ’63)
Broadbeach Qld

Women on the Water Board

In the article concerning the 2012 Alumni Awards for outstanding achievement (SAM, July 2012), the item on Belinda Hutchinson stated that in 1992 Belinda “made news when she was appointed as the only woman on the Board of Sydney Water”.

For the sake of historical accuracy, I wish to point out that this statement is incorrect and misleading. Dr Judy Messer was the first woman member of the Board of Sydney Water, having been appointed in 1988 by the then NSW Minister for the Environment, Tim Moore.

Michael Messer (MSc ’89)
Balmain NSW

Rich reading experience

I congratulate the new editor on his first edition (SAM, July 2012). I did not only notice a digital new look but also enjoyed a rich readers’ experience of WC Wentworth’s founding vision of “Sydney: the making of a public university”.

In the interview with John McLenaghan (Adding value to an intangible asset, SAM, July 2012) the new Alumni Council president never mentioned “rich” to qualify a graduate to re-engage with the University. Rather, he said that philanthropy and nourishing student engagement with the University comprise the spirit that is an intangible asset, and we can add a lot of value to.

Another story, Henry’s legacy, emphasised that one need not have any direct links to see the University’s transformative role in Australian society. What matters is a generous heart, driving a man whose head is full of his father’s dreams.

Dan Umali (MPAdmin)
Leichhardt NSW