Ladies from River District, visit Adelaide 1950
River District Ladies, State Conference 1952
SAASPC’s genesis can be attributed to the formation in 1920 of the then Infant Schools Mothers’ Clubs by Miss Lydia Longmore. Miss Longmore was a pioneer early childhood educator who became the first female inspector in South Australian schools after the establishment of the first Infant (now Junior Primary) Schools.
She was an innovator, and after studying new trends and the Montessori methods being introduced in other systems sought to introduce these into the South Australian system. This she did with the support of the Director of Education. She soon realised that these new ideas would work best if done in partnership with parents, and thus the Mothers’ Clubs were born.
As the children of these mothers moved on into Primary School the idea followed them, and during the 1920s Welfare Clubs were set up in most schools. The name “Welfare Club” was chosen because the name “Mothers’ Club” was considered to “belong” to the Infant Schools, and also probably to avoid confusion.
The common aim of those early clubs remains as part of SAASPC’s today - the welfare of the children, although in the
early days the clubs had a strong social focus as well, being an avenue for mothers to meet others with a similar interest.
During the depression years, the name “Welfare Club” became particularly apt. There is documentation about how clubs used to work to provide meals and often even clothing and shoes for children in need. These Welfare Clubs received official sanction with the passing of the Education Amendment Act which came into effect in 1942.
Over the years parent clubs made contact with other groups in their local area, which shared similar interests. These informal contacts were formalised by the establishment of Area Associations, which had a committee structure.
Members met regularly to share information and ideas and generally support each other.
As this spontaneous movement towards area groups grew to become statewide it was recognised that closer contact between these Associations would be desirable.
At the instigation of the River Districts Association, a state conference was held in August 1952. Another was held the following year, at which an executive committee was formed.
More conferences followed, and in 1957 it was decided to form a State Association. The first annual conference of this Association, under the name of the South Australian State Association of School Welfare Clubs, was held in 1958, and the first State Officers were elected.
SAASPC friends 14 August 2006 celebrates 50 years
In 1976, the name of the Association was changed to South Australian Association of School Parents’ Clubs, to move with the times and to be more inclusive of the now more varied groups which had evolved with the 1972 changes to the Education Regulations. These widened the roles of School Committees (renamed School Councils) and the parent groups which were now officially “Affiliated Committees” of the School Councils.
Many parent groups now use a variety of names, which are selected to best reflect their unique circumstances. This is explained in the department’s Administrative Instructions and Guidelines (section 5 page 4 - January 1999 version):
Section 89 of the Act empowers the Minister to authorise the constitution or establishment of Committees to be affiliated with school councils. Currently, authorised affiliated committees are mothers clubs, welfare clubs and parents and friends associations or bodies with a similar constitution, purpose and title. Affiliated committees are not council committees.
In June 1992 the Junior Primary Schools Parents’ Association disbanded, and SAASPC took over their responsibility through the provision of a special portfolio position for an officer to represent early childhood interests.
The decision-making body is the State Executive, which meets five times a year and comprises the elected or appointed officers and a delegate from each of the Area Associations. Day to day administration is carried out by the committee as elected or appointed.
Area Associations had a major role to play.
SAASPC holds an annual conference, which includes the annual general meeting, for all parents and other interested people.
Affiliated school and preschool parent groups have voting rights and are able to make the decisions about any resolutions put forward, constitutional changes and so on. They also elect the SAASPC officers for the forthcoming year and can put forward nominations for these positions.