How, why and where did it happen?  Who was involved?

 A meeting was held in Adelaide in August 1965 with a view to establishing a Division of the Institute of Private Secretaries (Aust) in South Australia (then IPSA, now the Australian Institute of Office Professionals – AIOP).  Among those in attendance were Connie Cooke (President of IPSA), Rosalind Miller (Secretary of IPSA), and Executive Council Members Laura McDuff and Shirley Harrison – all from Melbourne – and Charlotte Howell, from Perth.  The South Australian contingent included Joyce Fransson (ICI Australia), Thelma Mansell (Muirden College) and others.  All these ladies held the Commonwealth Secretarial Diploma (CSD), the precursor to the Diploma of the Institute (Dip.IPSA).

The media coverage of the day reported that Connie Cooke was born with only one hand but, despite her disability, she held down a responsible job, wrote speed shorthand and typed at 50 words per minute!  Added to this, she had very efficiently led the Institute since its inception.

Joyce Fransson (now deceased) became the Inaugural President of the IPSA SA Division and proved to be a strong and capable leader for many years.

It was some while before the Diploma of the Institute actually came to fruition in South Australia – in fact, the first lectures began here in 1968.  Lectures were held at Muirden College in King William Street, ably conducted by Mary Jones and Dianne Cocetta (both holders of the CSD).  From memory, I think there were 16 students who began the Diploma that year (but memory, regrettably, dims, so please forgive me if this figure is wrong!)  With a number of casualties along the way for one reason and another, only four completed the course from that initial group and became South Australia’s first Diplomates of the Institute in South Australia.  These were Mary Parslow (Taperoo High), Flora Paddick (Temple Christian College), Carolyn Barratt (Hotel Australia – later Hotel Adelaide), and Dawn Lamont (ANI).  The examinations were held in Brookman Building, and what a cold, forbidding place that was (or was it simply that we were overcome with nerves at the prospect of the exams?)

It became common practice for all Diplomates, including those with both the CSD and the Dip.IPSA, to have a Diplomates’ Dinner at Christmas time every year. We were a small, close group for some time and these were most enjoyable occasions.  Sadly, these dinners “died a natural death” after a few years, probably due to a change in management and as different priorities evolved, and unfortunately many of us lost contact after that.

With the considerable knowledge and expertise within its ranks, and with the many valuable contacts made since its inception, a vast range of professional development activities was offered by the Institute over the years, providing enormous benefits and networking opportunities for members and visiting participants.  I recall in particular a very successful, well-attended, conference held at the Hotel Australia (later Hotel Adelaide) in North Adelaide.  The theme of this conference was, “The Ladder of Success”, and the day’s activities gave the 300-plus participants a wealth of valuable information, as well as providing for the Examinations Committee a valuable source of potential new students for the Diploma.

For several years I served on the IPSA Board of Management and also convened the IPSA Examinations Committee.  This latter role provided an ongoing challenge, attempting as we were at that time to encourage potential students to sit for the Diploma.  Our Board and sub-committees met in those days at the Soroptimists’ offices on South Terrace, Adelaide.

I have an interesting memory of an extra-curricular activity of IPSA SA Division in 1976, when six IPSA members debated, ”That Men Should be Liberated”.  I was on the Affirmative team with Hilda Ewings and Molly Scrymgour, and the Negative team comprised Marjorie Walton, Barbara Allen and Yvonne Turner.  In retrospect I can’t imagine what we, the Affirmative, had to say on this topic that would actually be valid (with suitable apologies to the males of the species!), but for some reason our Affirmative side won the day!  It was a lot of fun, both in the preparation and in the presentation, and it was an excellent “friend-raising” exercise!  At that time IPSA meetings and many of its functions were held at what was then the Institute of Management at Unley, which was a very pleasant and central venue.

It certainly is interesting to look back on the history of the Institute and to consider the various locations of its meetings, its professional development opportunities and its challenges.  Different times, different names for the Institute, different leaders and different membership have all had a major part to play in influencing the Institute and making it what it is today – a well-rounded, interesting and valuable forum for professional development, networking, self-improvement and friendship.

“Well done” to all those responsible for the Institute’s success along its journey to date, and very sincere best wishes to those whose responsibility it will be to foster AIOP in the years to come.

* * * * * * * * * * *

Further to the above summary – the following is a humorous poem written by Max Fatchen and printed in the Adelaide “Advertiser” on 19 August 1965 regarding the formation of the Institute of Private Secretaries SA Division:

“Private Secretaries have formed an organisation in Adelaide . . .


She walks the room with airy grace, with not a bangle out of place.

And usually she has her way, this tyrant of the pending tray.

Stenographers will fear her tread.  The office boy bows humble head.

She has her Mona Lisa smiles, this Cleopatra of the files.


The boss arrives with morning frown, and shorthand notes she’s taking down.

‘Dear Sir … ahem …’, with words he gropes.  She sits with poise (she knows the ropes).

And, with a queenly grace, forgives his prose and split infinitives.

With visitors she matches wits as, watchful at her desk, she sits.

And when they rant and grow enraged she says, ‘I’m sorry, he’s engaged’.

Her voice is cold as Arctic ice.  She does not have to tell them twice.

 Immaculate her desk you’ll find.  A vast computer is her mind.

No tea within her saucer runs.  She serves him biscuits, never buns.

To overawe her, few have dared.  What?  Challenge HER?  Who, ME?  I’m scared!”


                                                                                                              Max Fatchen.


by Dawn Lamont, FAIOP, Dip.IPSA, JP, formerly member of the AIOP Board of

Management, Secretary of the Examinations Committee, and previous editor of “Aspire”

Written and published in 2007.


NB: Dawn is now approaching her 50th year of membership.