Life Member - Robert Matthers

Robert (Bob) Mathers was a founding member of the Art Craft Teachers Association  (ACTA) having previously  started the Eastern Division Art Teachers Association (EDATA) when he was the art teacher at Mitcham and then Ringwood Primary Schools.

Having completed his Diploma of Art in Gold and Silversmithing at RMIT he was seconded to the Education Departments Primary Art Branch (PAB) where his responsibility was to establish and support an art advisory scheme across the 50 Statewide Victorian School Inspectorates. This scheme then attracted both national and international interest and provided an initial career path for many talented teacher artists.

Robert was responsible for organising and participating in a large number of statewide art workshops for classroom teachers to ensure that ‘the arts’ formed part of and could be included in their curriculum. During this time he also was requested to speak at numerous meetings and conferences and contributed to a number of journals. With two others (Foreman & Blacker) he produced an art teachers curriculum and activity package (Artifacts) published by Longman Cheshire which had national circulation. He was also involved, including as chairperson, on a number of teacher training and tertiary education and arts course committees promoting the arts and creative education.

Another key initiative at this time was his rescuing and re-establishment of Reverse
Garbage Truck (RGT) which provided a waste material recycling service to support both art teachers and other educators on a Statewide basis. The PAB was also responsible for the introduction and management of the funded Artist in Schools program.

From its inception ACTA quickly established itself with art teachers offering workshops (including environmental), an annual conference, and regular publications (ACTA Magazine and Interacta). At the time Robert was elected President, ACTA was also offering an international study tour to China, presenting international speakers at its annual conference (Eisner, Witkin), and introduced a regular newspaper (ACTA News) in addition to many other initiatives.

Following his presidency, Robert continued to support ACTA as Treasurer until the impending Education Department restructures and career demands led to roles in Curriculum Branch, a secondment to the Victorian Arts Ministry, Principal at Hyde St Footscray and District Liaison Principal (DLP at Werribee River District based at The Grange Secondary College). He also led numerous education and cultural study tours to both Europe and Asia, and participated in an international exchange program with a Superintendent in Pennsylvania and a Sister City teacher exchange with Costa Mesa (USA).

He retired from the Department of Education in 2003 as Regional Principal Consultant at Western Metropolitan Region, going on to work part time as the international educational consultant for a local tour operator including designing many cultural tours and presentations to school, parent and community groups.

For his contribution to ACTA Robert was granted Life Membership, and has also been presented with a Kennedy Centre Medal (USA) and the keys to the City of Costa Mesa (sister city to Wyndham, Victoria), recognising his educational leadership.

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Monash University