A young girl with a dream – Dr Jane Goodall

This year will be well remembered for the celebration of women who serve as the most outstanding role models for all young St Catherine’s girls today. As such, it was an honour to host Dame Jane Goodall in the School this morning. During her time at St Catherine’s, Dr Goodall toured through the six newly refurbished Science laboratories and in her address at our Senior School Assembly, she shared her remarkable story of research commencing over 60 years ago when she studied the behaviours of chimpanzees in the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.

Dr Goodall also enjoyed a happy occasion with our ELC children and younger Prep – Year 3 girls. Importantly, the Barbreck Environment Committee were able to proudly share their own conservation initiatives and participate in a ‘Question and Answer’ session with Dr Goodall. The Barbreck girls have worn a ‘touch of green’ or various animal head dress to school this week, in an effort to raise funds for the future care of the Orange Bellied Parrot.

This momentous occasion in Barbreck will be long remembered by the children and we thank Barbreck parents, Erica Gill and Dr Brendan O’Brien who so generously gifted to the school a bench seat to view over the Village Green and a possum box placed high in the tree above. Dr Goodall has also shared her favourite childhood book, Dr Doolittle, which will be framed and added to the art installation, Bookmark Her Future, located in the Wang family Library in Barbreck.

In courageously entering the mysterious world of wild chimpanzees, Dr Goodall was equipped with little more than a notebook, binoculars, optimism and a desire to learn more about these incredible animals. Dr Goodall won the trust of the chimpanzees and through her research, she has illuminated the intelligence of these beautiful animals. Dr Goodall has quite simply contributed to one of the greatest studies of primates the world has ever seen.

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With the documented shifts in the global climate, displacing chimpanzees and thousands of other species, Dr Goodall’s quest for animal welfare and conservation is at the forefront of her work today and that of her Roots and Shoots programs, established in 1991.

Dr Goodall is now known around the world as a Dame, UN Messenger of Peace, conservationist, primatologist, ethologist, anthropologist and the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees but she remains at heart a ‘young girl with a dream’ – just like our St Catherine’s girls.

I wish to personally thank Dr Sarah Triolo, State Coordinator – Jane Goodall’s Roots and Shoots program and attendees from the Jane Goodall Institute who are hosting Dr Goodall in Melbourne this weekend. As a global network of young people, Roots and Shoots, is quite simply a message of hope. Fostering in young people across the globe a belief that every action, both locally and globally, can and will make a difference. To quote Dr Goodall, humans have a responsibility to each other and the animals we share the world with. “We say we inherit the planet from our parents when in fact we borrow it from our children”.

We were delighted that Dr Goodall accepted our invitation to officially unveil the plaque for the six refurbished Science Laboratories in the Edna Holmes Centre for Science. Edna Holmes, whom the building was named after, was a past principal of St Catherine’s in the 1940s. We were delighted to also welcome to our Assembly today, Lady Marigold Southey (’45) and Lady Anna Cowen (’42), two St Catherine’s Old Girls who were students at the time of Miss Edna Holmes’ headship.

Since the building was initially opened in 1963, the Science Wing (as it was known) has had three lives, educating and inspiring many young women to venture towards careers in science. In recent years, approximately a third of our Year 12 graduates select STEM related tertiary courses.  Following a substantial rebuilding project, the Science Wing was reopened in 1993 by Lady Cowen’s late husband, Sir Zelman Cowen, former Governor General of Australia. And today, we officially recognised the significant work in refurbishing the six laboratories to ensure our girls continue to be inspired in the field of Science.

Dr Jane Goodall’s invitation to St Catherine’s has enabled her name to be forever etched on the plaque located in our Edna Holmes Centre for Science. This plaque will remain for years to come; it is quite simply a point in time for our School, an historical marker of this special occasion. I believe Dr Goodall’s name on this plaque will serve as a continual reminder for generations of St Catherine’s girls to come.

A call to action so to speak for the conservation of our environment, the awareness of animal welfare issues and forever in our minds, the impact of one woman’s research, the foremost expert on chimpanzees.


Mrs Michelle Carroll


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