They talk about ‘the big four’ in banking parlance. There were the four friends of Bremen who thwarted the robbers and the “oarsome foursome” who were among the best of Australian Olympic rowers.

In modern times, we have the four pillars of modern society, elements of life and living without which communities seem to wither.

They are:



Take away food


Take away these four ingredients of modern times and people cannot cope. Without these supports they are hopeless and helpless.

People cannot survive without alcohol, seemingly the more the better because of dependence.

People cannot stay home, wanting to be unceasing movers and travellers. If travelling embargoes limit particular areas, they take on increasing appeal.

Cooking and food preparation are beyond the skills and abilities of most people. Huge amounts are spent on food prepared other than in the home; without this service, people would starve to death.

Entertainment to enable escape from real life is an absolute must.

This all begs the $64 question. Who are we and what have we become?


Is there really anywhere left to go with changes to leadership band management of organisations? Over time, there have been big changes in organisational operation. There have been countless management theories, many leading from the consideration of institutional happenings where people were an adjunct to outcomes, to a point where prime consideration is much more toward people providing the service.

With the passing of grime, change continues but the dimension of refocus is ever more minuscule because big changes have been completed. They realm of management and leadership change is more about tweaking than major paradigm shifts. Change has gone from macro, to minuscule to micro.

I suspect that a great deal of movement taking place within organisations is more about changing the name of the practice, rather than changing the practice itself. That’s a case of the same function with a different title.

Titular change really means little, other than the same function being covered by a different naming blanket. Mind you, that allows for someone coming up with the new name on the particular theory, to stalk about it with newfound authority. Multi experts finish up laying claim to what is more or less the same operational thesis.

Fun for all and experts in abundance.


Recent commentary has discussed shortfalls in the accomplishments of Australian students. Our students compared poorly with their Asian peers and other overseas counterparts. More money and material resources are directed towards Australian education than in many of the countries to whom we are compared, yet our results continue to be inferior.

An issue that impacts on outcomes is that of student attitude. Googling ‘student discipline’ online brings up countless reports confirming this to be the case. The latest PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) survey found that “…Australia ranked 63rd out of 68 OECD countries for classroom discipline.” (Classroom behaviour the key to future pay, Weekend Australian 19 – 20 May 2018). Dr Sue Thompson from the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) confirmed that “… the environment is challenging for teachers.” (ABC Australian Kids behaving badly in classrooms, 16.3.17)

The ABC Report by Alice Martin goes into the level and degree of student offending. “ Things you would find in a classroom: an entire class deciding to ignore the teacher in silent protest, chairs thrown, threats and overturned desks.

(Australian) Teachers came forward to tell the ABC about the biggest classroom disruptions they experienced. It did not stop there. One teacher had three Year 9 boys skip her class and smear their poo all over the school gymnasium walls, while others had been cursed with the full spectrum of profanities. The list went on…and on.”

While the level and degree of ill-disciplined behaviour varies, the issue is one that has a deleterious impact upon learning opportunities and academic outcomes.

Classroom behaviour (or misbehaviour) has a negative impact on what can be achieved. Although not talked about openly, the behaviour of many students at both primary and secondary levels, leaves a lot to be desired. Teachers spend as much, if not more time, on classroom management and discipline as they do on teaching. This is not fair on those who are keen to learn.

Classrooms and students in many of our Territory schools are not quarantined from this sad reality.

The issue is one that has its genesis in the bringing up of children. Parents as primary caregivers are responsible for the initial shaping of the values and attitudes of their offspring. Proverbs 22.6 suggests “Teach your children right from wrong and when they are grown they will still do right.” (Bible, Contemporary English Version)

If Australian students are to attain the levels achieved by their overseas counterparts, this issue needs to be recognised and corrected.


The policy of three-year-old children attending preschool full time should fill people with concern. The notion is one of which children of very tender years, having only “just“ arrived in the world, being rushed into formal education. Colin Wicking’s cartoon (Northern Territory News 24/6/18) encapsulates the situation. Two toddlers are heading off to preschool and one says to the other “it only seems like yesterday that I was a fetus“!

If that’s the way preschool education is going, we have a grossly misaligned education system.

Educational justification for early entry into preschool is to get children academically ready for literacy and numeracy competence at increasingly younger ages. This is totally at odds with common sense. Young children need the nurture, empathy and love of parents in developing life skills. Their initial listening and speaking abilities along with the love of life should grow from family interactions.

The modern tendency of children at younger and younger ages spending more time in ‘formal’ preschool education is beyond comprehension.

In 2009 the Melbourne Declaration agreed by all education ministers stated that social, emotional and moral/spiritual development of children are essential. In years since, the need for rounded development has been largely disregarded. The focus seems to be academic competency alone. New policy suggests the sooner this education begins after birth, the better.

Parents wanting their 3-year-olds permanently in preschool is based on misplaced logic. However, costs associated with childcare are continuing to escalate and helps explain why they are plumping for the preschool option. A recent survey of parents (Our kids pushed to school too early, Sunday Territorian 24/6/18) confirms their motivation. “Aussie kids are being pushed into school early because their parents are desperate to escape the rising costs of childcare. … More than 65 per cent of parents are paying between $200 and $799 out of pocket (after government rebate) on childcare each week. … This compares to 44 per cent who pay between $1 and $199 once their child is in preschool.”

Whether children are socially, emotionally and sufficiently mature for entry into preschool, appears to be unimportant. “More than 52 per cent of parents ranked (their children) being toilet trained and feeding themselves as their lowest considerations when deciding when to send their kids to preschool.” (Op cit) While a barrage of educational reasons might be given, the primary reason is one of financial consideration.

It seems the new and innovative three year olds at preschool. is more about cheap childcare than education.


Aboriginal (these days Indigenous) Education has been examined from so many angles over so many years and in so many ways, that there is really nothing left to examine that hasn’t been examined before. Educationists have developed plans built in plans that have grown from plans.

If it only took plans, Indigenous Education would be the most enriched and most successful elements of all branches of Education bar none.

It is what happens to plans after the research is done and the reports are written. Educators make whoopee about the research and its findings for two days. Then the report is shelved and any planning is archived, generally before it is trialled.

It’s juxtapositional that for all the attention paid to Indigenous Education, everyone seems happy to skirt the major issue and key impediment to student progress. The over-arching deficit is that school attendance has always been treated as optional. Unless and until school attendance becomes obligatory in action and not just a stated need, student outcomes will not improve.


Below is the text of a letter I sent to the NT News. The letter was published on January 23 2020.

Rarely are acknowledgments and appreciations offered in the way Mr Adams spoke.

Incoming Baniyala Garrangali School Principal Cameron Adam’s wise words should be taken on board by all leaders, both new and ongoing (“Newest pending leadership role, Mr Adams said “… there’s been a lot of work done by previous principals … its … about maintaining it and listening to the community to ensure we’re on the right path.”

One of the drawbacks to educational furtherance in the NT and particularly in our more remote schools, has been a failure to follow this behavioural pattern. There has been a tendency for incoming staff to disregard what has gone before. ‘Starting all over’ every time new school leaders and staff members commence their tenure is a poor option.

To be forever ‘in the beginning’ sets aside previous accomplishments, disregarding progress and frustrating students and their communities. Endless repetition and unnecessary recycling is discouraging for students and parents. It is a contributing factor to disinterest in school and poor attendance patterns.

I hope Mr Adam’s intentions are taken on board by other school leaders and staff members. Continuity and building on what has gone before is a superior approach to school leadership and teaching.


I have been a member of LinkedIn for quite a few years. Having a LinkedIn site is something I’ve appreciated because it enables me to communicate and to learn from others in a professional form. Linking my blog and LinkedIn accounts has been wise.

Facebook, Twitter and other social accounts don’t do anything for me and I’m not interested in joining. I regard LinkedIn as being a forum with a professional orientation and for the most part I think that holds up.

I would welcome the opportunity to become a premium member; however being a retired person does not lend itself to premium costs so my site remains as it is.

From time to time, I have enquired about whether or not a premium subscription could be available at reduced cost for retirees and others who do not have income earning capacity. I have never received any response to this query, so can only assume that the administrators of LinkedIn are not interested.

Linking my blog (henry Gray to my LinkedIn account has been a strategy I have found useful.

I am glad to have the opportunity to be a member of LinkedIn and have learnt many lessons from my membership

and participation.


Your story “Bulk of principal posts go to locals” (NT News 14/1) offers good news to Territory educators with school leadership aspirations. It also indicates the bucking of what has been a system trend. For far too long, principal vacancies in Territory schools have been filled by people appointed from interstate. This has denied NT educators, many with years of leadership experience, the opportunity to fill top level positions in our schools.

The input of school leaders appointed from interstate can infuse new ideas while broadening leadership methodologies. However, for too long the depth and breadth of experience gained from years of educational service by Territory educators has been discounted, with local applicants for positions being overlooked

Forty seven (47) of the nine ((49) 2021 principal vacancies in our schools are being taken up by Territory applicants and that is good news. Many have years of relevant experience. They have completed professional development programs that hone their leadership and management skills.

I hope that 2021 is a watershed year, establishing the worth and building ongoing respect for our homegrown school principals. Our system and its schools should be enhanced if local appointments to principal positions becomes the new norm.


Henry Gray

Life Member

NT Principals Association

Leanyer NT

January 15 2021


I am a believer in and supporter of Euthanasia. I wrote the following letter to Kevin Andrews some time ago and share the text.

Dear Mr Andrews

For a long time I have been distressed by the fact that you saw fit to introduce a private member’s bill into the Federal Parliament during the Howard years, which went to the overturning of the Northern Territory Euthanasia Bill. This is a matter about which I have harboured resentment for many years.

The NT Euthanasia Laws were well shaped and carefully structured by our then Chief Minister Marshall Perron. It was a day of relief rather than rejoicement when those laws were enacted into legislation.

In opposite vein, it was a day of rather astounded and disbelieving sadness, yet inevitability, when your private member’s bill got its overriding guernsey in Federal Parliament. I do not know if this bill was your own initiative or whether you were prevailed upon to move it to the parliament by other members of the Coalition. In any case, the rescinding of our most reasonable NT Act did our Territory and Northern Territorians a great disservice.

It is interesting that, by degree, the world is starting to catch up with Mr Perron’s ‘Rights of the Terminally Ill Bill’, which became part of our law over 20 years ago.

I have just turned 70. In my time, members of my family have passed in sad circumstances during which their rationality and their humanity was progressively dismantled by creeping loss of body and mind. I have seen that happen for many people and my awareness grows with advancing age.

For mine, I am desirous of incorporating into the provisions of my hastening old age, a provision that should I become totally incapable or demented, to the point of my reliance on life becoming the full responsibility of others, that I be allowed to decline my mortality: That I be allowed this as a legitimate right to determine, while still of sound body and mind.

Your bill stripped me of a basic human right and the possibility of action that should be an entitlement. I was deeply disappointed in what you did then. That disappointment remains until this day.


Henry Gray

11 March 2016

Mr Andrews eventually replied in a nondescript manner. Just to tell me in broad brush terms that the Federal Parliament acting on its operational principles, scuttled one of the wisest, most decent and empathetic pieces of legislation ever introduced into any Australian Parliament.

I still seethe about Mr Andrews and the Federal Parliament for mechanically and unreasonably brushing aside the Marshall Perron Euthanasia Bill. Few things in my life have been unforgivable. This matter is an exception


A number of remote communities in East Arnhem are losing their funding for the provision of after school hours care programs.

Some disappointment has been expressed at the curtailment of services, but the change is totally understandable. These programs are only relevant if children attend school. Chronic non- attendance and truancy make the provision of such services totally farcical.


Denise Cahill ( A lesson on how not to be a leader, Sun. Territorian 25/10/20) makes some salient points on what elevates and deflates leaders in the eyes of beholders.

The power of personal example is ever so important bin determined respect held for leaders. Good leaders are also people who learn about how to lead, by learning (often from observation) about what not to do as a leader. Leadership based on respect cannot be transcended.


Parents need to be on guard and absolutely aware of the online sites their children visit and the online games that can be so absorbing.

Schools play their part, but awareness, education and the shaping of young attitudes has to start in the home. Parents discount this issue at their peril, for it is one of clear and distinct danger to children.