From Ballarat and District Industrial Heritage Project
Jump to: navigation, search
Letter from the Ballarat School of Mines Concerning Training of Returned Soldiers, Federation University Historical Collection (Cat. No. 7773)
Dear Sir.
On the 25th February last my Council adopted a resolution to the effect that application from returned soldiers for free tuition at this school would be favorably considered. At the Council meeting held on Friday last, the 25th inst., the matter was further discussed and, at Colonel Bolton's suggestion, it was decided that it would be in the best interests of the movement, if application for admission were received through your association.
The undermentioned gentlemen were appointed as a sub-committee to receive such application and will be very pleased to interview any soldiers whom you would recommend as trainees.
Yours faithfully
Joseph A. Day
Sub committee:- Col. W.K. Bolton, Mr T. Hurley. Mr R. Stephenson, The Principal of the Science School (Mr C.E. Fenner), and the Principal of the Art School (Mr H. H. Smith)

The Ballarat School of Mines were training returned World War One soldiers before the Repatriation Department were giving assistance. With the help of the department the Ballarat School of Mines became one of the largest vocational training centres in Victoria outside of Melbourne. The former soldiers trained in a variety of occupations.[1]

Two returned soldiers, Messrs Albert Gesell (sic) and Robert Dixon, employees in the Postal department, have applied for tuition in Postal Mechanics. They have been admitted to the class, pending the approval of the special committee appointed by Council. Four returned soldiers have now availed themselves of the privilege granted by the Council.[2]


In the News

It causes us to feel distinctly gratified and proud of our School when we learn that in connection with the repatriation Scheme, arrangements are in progress for the training of Returned Soldiers in various trades. Already we can count about twenty-five Returned Men in out midst, and with the new scheme in full swing it will be possible to train about seventy of them. it is a big thing when we think of it, that the school is able to fill in the breach in such a practical manner at a time when the Repatriation of our soldiers is such a vital necessity. Moreover it speaks well for out Instructors and the School's organisation.[3]

The School has continued to take an active part in connection with the vocational training of Returned Soldiers. About two years ago the Council offered free instruction to Returned Soldiers, and a considerable number of men availed themselves of this opportunity. During the present year, however, the Repatriation Department has taken over the responsibility of this work, and has authorised the establishment of classes in Turning and Fitting, woodworking, Electroplate Work, Electric Wiring, and Commercial subjects. Recently fifty-two returned men were approved by the Vocational Training Committee, and were subsequently allotted to the various classes by the Principal (Mr Copland). It is anticipated that the instructors will be appointed and the equipment and material provided at an early date.[4]
Although the Returned Soldiers’ classes have naturally attracted the larger share of public interest, the normal work of the School has proceeded with characteristic effort and development. The extent of its activities may be partly realised by the fact that during this period approximately 1100 students have received specialised training in a wide range of technical science, art and industry.[5]

RETURNED SOLDIERS CLASSES - The establishment of these classes has undoubtedly been the greatest development in the School’s activities during the past year. It compels special consideration owing to its place in a great national undertaking, and to the fact that this Institution was the first to carry through successfully a decentralised scheme of vocational training. The classes were opened early in the year, the Principal (Mr M. Copland) having been appointed as Supervisor by the Repatriation Department. Although considerable difficulty was at first experienced in obtaining the necessary equipment and staff, the scheme has steadily developed under Mr Copland’s vigorous and tactful administration, until it becomes one of the largest and most successful organisations of its. Kind in the State.

… (classes and instructors given) … the woodworking class is conducted in a workshop in Mair St , and Commercial Class at Oxford Chambers …[6]

Returned Soldiers' Classes - Altogether 206 returned soldiers have passed through the Vocational Classes, and there are at the present time 150 men being trained. The classes in which there men are being trained are as follows: Commercial, Motor Mechanics, Turning and Fitting, Plastering, Boot repairing, Painting, Woodwork, Bricklaying, Elector-plate, Electric Wiring. [7]

The Returned Soldiers’ Classes, having fulfill their purpose, were closed during the year, by the Repatriation Department. Since their inception, in October, 1918, over four hundred ex-service men have been trained in these classes and, with very few exceptions, have been placed in regular employment. The part of the Ballarat School of Mines and Industries has taken in this national movement will endure among the School’s best traditions, coupled with the name of the late Principal (Mr Maurice Copland), by whose courageous and self-sacrificing efforts the success of the undertaking at this centre was mainly due.[8]

Soldiers' Children Education Scheme

The Soldiers' Children Education Scheme was administered by the Commonwealth of Australia Repatrioan Department. The scheme was established in 1921, and operated with the assistance by honorary Education Boards in each Australian State.[9] The purpose of the scheme was to provide support services and financial assistance to children of eligible veterans and members of the Forces, to help them achieve their full educational or training potential and prepare them for suitable careers.[10]

Also See

Ballarat Avenue of Honour

World War One

William K. Bolton

Albert Gessell


  1. Ballarat School of Mines Student's Magazine, 1920.
  2. Ballarat School of Mines Monthly Principals' Report, September 1916.
  3. Ballarat School of Mines Students' Magazine, 1917.
  4. Ballarat School of Mines Annual Report, 1918.
  5. Ballarat School of Mines Annual Report, 1919.
  6. Ballarat School of Mines Annual Report, 1919.
  7. Ballarat School of Mines Students' Magazine, 1920.
  8. Ballarat School of Mines Annual Report, 1922.
  10., accessed 21/11/2018.
Personal tools