Those of us who knew Joan are saddened by her death. As Council Executive member, Viv Pearce, put it: “Public education and families with students with special needs in the ACT are the poorer given Joan is no longer with us.”
Joan was involved with the ACT public education system since the early days of its establishment. She was a member of the Council Executive for over 30 years – an astounding service and contribution which can hardly be adequately acknowledged here. She provided a strong voice for the perspective of parents on dozens of government committees from those examining learning assistance to the steering committee which was tasked with overseeing the creation of our secondary colleges. She contributed to Council’s understanding, to submissions and policies, and was a founding member of Council’s Disability Working Group.
Joan was an active member of the P&C at North Ainslie Primary, Lyneham High and Dickson College and also served as Board Chair at each school, and on the Turner School Board.
Joan was a successful advocate for the founding values of the ACT school system, special needs education and a major figure in Canberra’s swimming community. She remained a community activist, with a strong commitment to community partnerships. She had a tremendous ability to get people to act together.
“She was a link person,” explains fellow life-member, Graeme Evans. “She would cause people to understand how their particular enthusiasm knitted with the enthusiasms of others.”
“Joan was the guardian or custodian of the founding values of the ACT school system particularly the management of schools in partnership with the community. She had a detailed knowledge of the system since its inception – we’ll no longer be able to say ‘I know, let’s ask Joan’.”
“When Joan spoke at a P&C Council meeting you listened because you knew she would have a sensible and worthwhile contribution to make, drawn from years of active participation,” said Viv Pearce.
“She was also a very kind and caring person, supporting and listening to parents under stress who felt their children’s needs were not being met by the ACT education system. She would make the time to listen when others did not.”
Viv recalls Joan’s mentoring of parents within P&C Council – “I personally would not have had the confidence to join the P&C Council Executive, let alone stand for President, if it had not been for Joan’s wise words and encouragement. I know over the years many other executive members have benefitted from contact with Joan. The importance of her urging parents to play an active role in ACT public education cannot be underestimated.”
She will be sorely missed. ●
A community gathering to celebrate the life and contributions of Joan Kellett OAM will be held at the YMCA’s Leumeah Lodge, 48 O’Hanlon Place, Nicholls on Saturday 19 August at 2.00 pm.
All are welcome. Dress: Colourful
This article appeared in ParentACTion, Term 3, 2017.