Australian dress register ID:440
Owner:School of the Air
Owner registration number:SOTABH/T/001
Date range:1957 - 1981
Place of origin:Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia
The first School of the Air Broken Hill uniform was adopted in 1957, during the school's second year of operation. The adoption of a uniform is significant in that it demonstrates the strong desire of the students to belong together; to be a part of a community that is uniquely for and about them. In establishing the school, with its many unique challenges, every ground breaking step forward was the result of combined efforts from departmental and school staff, students and their families, the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the Broken Hill community. This uniform is historically and socially significant as it represents the achievements of a widely scattered community working together for the advancement of education and socialisation for geographically remote students. The uniform was created as a way of recognition, identification and integration for the students. The impetus occurred after two pupils recognised each other's voices whilst both families were visiting the Adelaide Zoo in the summer holidays. The students designed the school badge and were further united with the school magazine "Over to You" which was first published in 1957. The culture of togetherness, "Parted but United", that was established in the first year has remained a strong and intrinsic feature of the school's culture. Author: Debra Leigo, 30 Jan 2013.
A royal blue, woolen jacket with a turn down collar and long sleeves with buttoned cuffs. The waist length front opening is fastened with five buttons, including one button on the waist band. An embroidered School of the Air Broken Hill emblem is stitched onto the left breast patch pocket.
The uniform changed post 1981.
Link to further information about this object
History and Provenance
Do you have any stories or community information associated with this?
School of the Air Broken Hill students did not actually meet very often as they completed their lessons at home, communicating with their teacher in Broken Hill via the Royal Flying Doctor Service radio network. The need for a school badge which would identify and distinguish the students was realised by the beginning of the second year after a fortuitous incident during the Summer holidays. Two families, living over 200 miles apart and never having met, visited the Adelaide Zoo at the same time in December 1956. They met when one student recognised the voice of another student. This incident was the impetus for adopting a school uniform so that students of the school could be easily recognised. Early in 1957 students were asked to submit design suggestions for a school badge which would unite the students and develop the feeling of togetherness that has become an integral part of the school culture. The adopted badge design was inspired by Brian Nash's entry and the motto was submitted by a senior pupil, Denise Will. The school community was further united with the school magazine, "Over to You" first published in 1957. The school song, with the chorus "Parted but united" was also adopted at this time. Over the years the uniform has changed however the badge and motto remain basically unchanged.
How does this garment relate to the wider historical context?
School of the Air Broken Hill was established in February 1956 with the purpose of supplementing and supporting the education provided to isolated children by the Sydney Correspondence School of New South Wales and to provide communication between students and teachers. In the first weeks the founding principal, Mrs Phyllis Gibb, took it upon herself to accept enrolments from isolated children in Queensland and South Australia. Originally the school did not supply its students with lessons but complimented the lessons sent to the students by their relevant State Correspondence School. During this time students held dual enrolments; firstly with the relevant Correspondence School and secondly with School of the Air Broken Hill. It wasn't until 1974 that School of the Air Broken Hill supplied all lessons and educational requirements to its students. For eighteen years prior to this, all written lessons were sent from the Correspondence Schools and posted back for marking.
School of the Air Broken Hill became the second school of its kind and world's largest classroom with students enrolled from Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia. The closest student lived 10 miles from Broken Hill and the furthest 585 miles away in Queensland (Gibb, 1986, p. 54). Lessons were conducted over High Frequency radio utilising the radio network facilities from the Broken Hill Base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The establishment of this school fundamentally changed the way geographically isolated children were educated during their primary schooling.
Prior to the school’s establishment, remote students completed all their schooling (if any) through the Correspondence schools in the relevant capital cities. Once enrolled in the new School of the Air Broken Hill, students could communicate with teachers and other students for brief periods each day utilising the Royal Flying Doctor Service radio network. Eventually the school gained approval for its own radio network so that lessons and radio communications could be conducted throughout the school day.
Utilising the radio network for this purpose also benefitted the wider community. Parents who were supervising their children's lessons were able to communicate with each other as well as the teaching staff. Many outback residents would listen in to hear the children sing, play music, read and learn. One gentleman even wrote to the Principal to say that listening to the children's air lessons had helped improve his own reading and writing skills!
Where did this information come from?
The founding Principal, Phyllis Gibb MBE, wrote an inspiring and detailed account of the first nine years of the school and its progress from its opening in 1956 until her retirement in 1964. The school magazines, "Over to You", 1957 - current, also provide a wealth of information. The students badges designs were published in Gibb (1986, p.144), "Over to You 1959" and "Celebrating 50 Years: 1956 - 2006" which were published by School of the Air Broken Hill.
Gibb, P. (1986). Classrooms a world apart: The story of the founding of the Broken Hill School of the Air. Spectrum: Richmond, Victoria.
This garment has been exhibited
This garment and other School of the Air Broken Hill uniform items have been exhibited in Studio 1 at the school. These items are currently in storage for preservation purposes.
Place of origin:
Broken Hill, New South Wales, Australia
This jacket was owned by Robert Nevins of "Acacia Downs" then by Tom Siemer of "One Tree" Station, Milparinka, as indicated on the labels. Siblings and students from other families may have also owned or worn this jacket.
Robert Nevins (Aug 1962 - c. 1968)
Tom Siemer (Feb 1978 - Dec 1983)
Siblings, other students may have also worn jacket.
The annual Picnic Day, Sports Day, Coral Festival and other school events such as excursions.
Broken Hill, NSW and Penrose Park, Silverton, NSW.
In 1957 students were asked to submit suggestions for a school badge design. The adopted badge design was inspired by Brian Nash's entry and the motto was submitted by a senior pupil, Denise Will (Gibb, 1986, p. 143-144).
First uniform item adopted by School of the Air Broken Hill, worn with white, short sleeve shirt and white shorts.
Trimmings / Decoration
The school emblem has been machine embroidered onto the left breast patch pocket. The emblem is predominantly gold, royal blue and light blue. The words "SCHOOL OF THE AIR BROKEN HILL" are embroidered in royal blue thread onto a background outer ring of gold. The inner section depicts the school emblem of a radio tower emitting radio waves above the school motto "PARTED BUT UNITED" embroidered in royal blue thread on a gold background.
Machine embroidered School of the Air Broken Hill school emblem.
Manufactured by National. All machine sewn with machine embroidered emblem on the breast pocket.
(includes a map of Australia)
Item no. SOTABH/T/001 - Hand written with a black marking pen, at the top of the manufacturer's label are the words "SIEMER ONE TREE". Two fabric name tags have been hand stitched onto the jacket, partially covering the manufacturer's label. The first label has blue stitching on a white background, with the name"TOM C. SIEMER" The second label has red stitching on a white background, with the name "ROBERT NEVINS".
- Hand sewn
- Machine sewn
Buttoned front opening with 5 buttons, and cuffs with 1 button each. Buttons are blue, plastic, 12 mm diameter with 4 holes.
- Hook and eye
|Front neck to hem||410 mm|
|Back neck to hem||455 mm|
|Sleeve length||470 mm|
|Neck to sleeve head||134 mm|
|Cross back||350 mm|
|Underarm to underarm||440 mm|
|Convert to inches|
The hem measurement is at the jacket waist.
Other related objects
The collection includes contemporary uniform items; many photographs depicting students wearing this and other uniform items; a School of the Air Broken Hill pin. Photographs are also included in the "Over to You" school magazines and images, Parents & Citizens minutes and related records, sound and film recordings, and radio equipment.