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F 75P History of Marine Studies in Queensland

This product is proudly Australian Made


Published Date : 01 June 1985

Product Code : F 75P

Format : Free PDF for download

Coming 2021


A draft autobiography of Marine Studies and Marine Science history in Queensland, drawn from our free and archives section publications; MTAQ and MESA newsletters, annual reports and conference proceedings; approved State syllabi; personal communications and press clippings. Viz:

  • The Gladstone Oceanographic Studies Program (GOSP) class notes (1979 - 1981)

  • Science Teachers Association of Queensland (STAQ) trial Marine Science Series (1982 - 1985)

  • Brisbane South Marine Studies Program (BSMSP) Marine Studies Series (1984 - 1989)

  • Qld Marine Studies Education Queensland Syllabus (1984)

  • Board of Secondary School Studies (BSSS) Marine Studies and Marine Science Syllabi (1992 - 2018)

  • Marine Education Society of Australia - Queensland Branch Conference Proceedings (MESA 1985)

  • Surfrider Foundation Newsletters and Local Enviro Group Manual (1995)

  • Marine Teachers Association of Queensland (MTAQ) newsletters, annual reports and conferences (1985 - 2016)

  • Australian Student Traineeship Foundation ASTF reports (1998- 1999 - see below for free download)

  • Marine Teachers Association of Queensland (MTAQ)  Coast and Marine Education QCA approved junior syllabus (2005)

  • Kids and Water Primary School Project newsletters and ANZSBEG reports (2002, 2003)

  • AUSMEPA project book (2004)


The Education Act of 1964 changed the age of transfer from primary to secondary school and the provision for a new secondary curriculum.  Under the Act secondary school examinations and curricula became the responsibility of  two administrative bodies - the Junior Board of Secondary School Studies and the Senior Board of Secondary School Studies.   
With the race to the moon well and truly on between Russia and the USA in the late 1950's and early 60's, the Americans were investing significantly large amounts of money at Science Education.   Complete Chemistry (CHEM Study) and Physics packages flowed into Australian schools complete with 16mm films, laboratory exercises and magnificantly edited content.  In Australia, federally funded Science blocks were built and staffed by lab assistants and Zoology was taught from a book produced by the University of Queensland. 

In late 1969 the Australian Academy of Science released a book in Biology called the Web of Life complete with laboratory exercises, diagnostic and summative tests.  

For one brief moment there was a chance for a national curriculum in biology with the backing of Australia's premier Scentific body.  

But Queensland Education being what it is and educators keen to stamp their own mark on the system wanted change.   In 1970 the Radford Committee appointed to review external examinations recommended that the first external exams held in 1910 be replaced with a system of internal school assessment.  These changes meant that no Queensland school student in 1973 was required to sit for an external examination.
According to historians Greg Logan and Eddie Clarke, “The century long reign of public examinations was over.  Freed from the constrains of public examinations, syllabuses could now be significantly revised and teachers given much more freedom in interpreting and teaching them”.  

The early years 1960 - 1980

The University of Queensland Marine Zoology program

Under construction - BUT at the time

- there was only ONE university in Queensland who set the entrance exams for Science (and all other senior subjects)

- all marine zoology was done at the Dunwich Research station

- each subject result was graded 1 - 7.  You did 5 subjects and needed a minimum of 22 to gain entry to uni (called matriculation)

- one year (1967)  the Physics paper was so hard that the Uni awarded only 20% of students a 4 or more causing a public outcry. 

- So much so that the Qld Premier (Jo Bjelke Petersen) just raised everyones Physics mark by 1 and this humble author scraped into uni with 22 points.   

The Gladstone Oceanographic Studies Program

In 1979 David Kopelke Principal Boyne Island Field Study Centre along with Bob Moffatt Science Master at Gladstone SHS were successful in securing a Commonwealth Schools Commission Grant, (John Quinlan State Coordinator) of approx $16,000 to purchase a research vessel and marine science equipment to found the Gladstone Oceanography Studies Program (GOSP).

GOSP was supported by Ian Matheson Regional Director and Peter McDonald Regional Inspector from the Central Queensland Regional office as well as Barry McGuire, Principal Gladstone SHS. GOSP community committee included Kerry Dickson, Juleen Wall and Brother Colin (Chanel College) and science staff members Ian Griffiths, Ann Kenny, Graham Mitchell, Greg Martin, Jenny Caldwell and Steve Hall all supported the ideas of a practical science course based on the sea as well as Jim Baker Science SM.

Three Marine Science units were written which later evolved into the STAQ Marine Science series when Bob was transferred to Benowa SHS in the Brisbane South region where he met Regional Education Department Inspector Mr. Cyril Connell. 

The 1980 Draft Multistrand science syllabus

The overall responsibility was now with the Board of Senior Secondary School Studies (BOSSS) and between 1971 and 1980 new syllabuses were written, trialled, piloted and brought into full operation.  In many cases it took many years to develop a new syllabus and the origins of Biology, Chemistry and Physics rewritten from the textbooks produced in the USA.  One syllabus that offered great flexibility for Marine Education was Multistrand Science.

Keen to support Marine Science, STAQ published a series of Marine Science classroom notes written by a teacher from Benowa SHS, which it sold to interested Queensland teachers.  Great supporters of Marine Studies from STAQ were Bob McAllistar, Drs Jack Marsh and David Tulip, Cam McRobbie, Keith Lucas, Cecily Gredden and regional members of the branches of STAQ.

John Broadfoot had a water quaity program out on the Darling Downs, so could be credited with doing the first Aquatic Studies syllabus in Queensland - he had a complete multistrand science course based on the land.

We would love to hear your stories

Wet Paper would love to hear from older Marine Studies members so we can record what you did.  (See our contact section)

The 1984 Marine Studies Syllabus and the STEP program

In the mid 1980's the Education Department perceived that senior courses were not catering for students who did not wish to go to university. At the same time the federal government poured large amounts of money into the Secondary Transition Education Program (STEP) in order to bridge the gap between school and work and released money for the Education Department to develop its own syllabuses.  

The first marine studies syllabus was written in 1984 (see our archives section), along with a sample work program.  Funds were also provided to schools to purchase resources.  The Science Teachers Association of Queensland had produced as series of trial Marine Science Units  (see our archives section) which were written for the Multistrand Science syllabus but needed to be changed to suit the new Marine Studies Syllabus.

A teacher was seconded from the Brisbane South Region to develop these units and founded the Brisbane South Marine Studies Program (BSMSP) which was to serve as a model for Marine Studies in Queensland.

The Brisbane South Marine Studies Program

A Queensland South Coast school working with the local printing industry and TAFE, set up a small print shop, which was able to produce these units and using STEP funding, the school students ran a model business through the parents and citizens association.
Schools could buy these units with their STEP funds.  At the time the need for teacher education and professional development was seen crucial to making this all work so the Queensland Inservice Education Committee (QUINSEC) was established where groups of teachers in organisations could source funding for conferences.  

Between 1983 and 1987, the program ran workshops, wrote, distributed and trialled a range of marine studies and marine science curriculum materials - See out archives section.

Funds raised from these sales and numberous grants from Education Queensland allowed teachers to run workshops, and network each other on new ideas and evaluation methods and a State Association was proposed early 1985.

Following a successful meeting in Victoria by a small group of marine educators at the Queensliff Marine Centre, a group of teachers and marine educators applied for funding to run a national conference at Broadbeach in 1985. 

Under construction

  • The birth of the Marine Education Society of Australia (MESA)
  • The birth of the BSSS Marine Studies Syllabus (1985 - 1994)
  • The birth of the Marine Teachers Association of Queensland (MTAQ 1994-1995)
  • Marine Vocational education - influence on MAP (See ASTF reports additional information below)
  • How AUSMEPA started and MTAQ's role 
  • Primary Marine Studies in Australia - The Kids and Water project 2002 - 2005
  • How WaterWise and WaterWatch influenced syllabus devlopment and content
  • The birth of Surfrider Foundation and the role of activism in marine studies and marine science (1992 - 2020)
  • The birth of BSSS Marine Education Syllabus, then change to Marine and Aquatic Practices (2004 MAP), then Aquatic Practices.
  • The 1992, 2002, 2010 Marine Studies Syllabus
  • The role of Wet Paper, Marine Studies and Marine Science
  • The birth of the 2018 Marine Science Syllabus

Teachers Information

Written by Bob Moffatt

Founder Education Queensland Marine Studies Syllabus, Brisbane South Marine Education Program and Wet Paper Publications.  Co-founder Gladstone Oceanographic Studies Program, Marine Education Society of Australia, Marine Teachers Association of Queensland, Surfrider Foundation and the first Board of Senior Secondary School Studies Marine Studies Syllabus.  Life member MTAQ, Life member Surfrider Foundation, winner 1985 STAQ medal, author, co-author or publisher of the books on this web site.

Grandfather to six wonderful grandchildren; husband to an absolutely fabulous wife and business partner for over 50 years.


Part A: The early years: 1969 – 1989

Part B: The age of Marine Studies: 1990 – 2009

Part C: The age of Marine Science and Aquatic Practices: 2010 - 2020

Additional Documents

ASTF Voc Ed project reports 1996 - 1998

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