Along with many QCL readers, I commenced my schooling at home with a daily radio lesson, my mother and I working through correspondence from some mysterious teacher who mailed us assignments and occasional gold stars from a “Department” in Brisbane.
We met our classmates, at best, once or twice a year at Tallebudgera or Yeppoon and on sports days.
So I feel it important to note the passing of EC “Bunny” Powne MBE, on the 26th of February, 2018.
Bunny holds a special place in many hearts and minds from western Queensland and beyond.
His work for ICPA was groundbreaking and still resonates for many rural families.
I’m not sure he could fix the NBN or long distance communication woes but before email and (intermittent) internet he drove many miles, often with wife Eileen, chaired many a meeting and cajoled many a politician and bureaucrat to the cause of outback communities and their education needs.
Bunny’s contribution was recently celebrated by family and a wide cast of friends at a gathering spread across three rooms at a Toowoomba funeral home.
I couldn't help but think that even Bunny’s memorial was conducted over the airwaves like a School of the Air classroom.
If there was but one takeaway from the ceremony it was “contribute to your community”. Be a part of it and make “it” better for your involvement.
If there was a second, it was the gift of thanking someone. Former federal Education Minister, Kim Beasley Snr, mentioned Bunny as one of only two people who thanked him in his political lifetime, for fiscal inclusion and the creation of the Assistance for Isolated Children scheme.
Bunny probably realised the strength and leadership capabilities of women before many, being surrounded by some serious rural advocates in Teresa Cobb, Jan Gall, Gillian Allen, Margie Greenway and Trish Mitchell and many other great women leaders that are too numerous for my limited word count to list – those are just the few I have met in person.
A local issue of illiteracy motivated Bunny and Eileen to do something about it and they did so with pragmatism and depth that translated into good policy and good outcomes for country kids.
If it takes a village to raise a child, then it also takes a far-reaching, well-brewed grassroots movement to create good policy.
The image in the memorial service program of Bunny at the home phone in greasy overalls was an image all present could relate to – the man was pushing something along down that Bollon exchange line.
In my memory he was a cheeky stirrer whose serious side was still a smile. Thank you Bunny.
– Dr Ben Lyons, international trade and investment advisor