About pooroldhenry

I was a long term Northern Territory (NT) Educator, commencing my teaching career in WA in 1970. We came to the NT in July 1975 and worked in remote, town then urban communities. My tenure in the NT was at Numbulwar School (1975- 1978), Angurugu Community School on Groote Eylandt (1979-1982), Nhulunbuy Primary School (1983-1986), then Karama School (1987-1991) and lastly Leanyer School (1992 until retiring in January 2012). I filled the position of school principal from 1977 until my retirement. My career started at Warburton Ranges in WA as a teacher in 1970 then as headmaster in 1974. My major focus on and belief in education is that it develop children and students holistically, preparing them for the whole of life. Educational partnerships involving staff, students, community and department have always been important. I am a Fellow and Lifetime Member of the Council of Education Leaders, a Life Member of the Association of School Education Leaders (recently rebranded as the Northern Territory Principals Association) and was awarded the Commonwealth Centenary Medal for contribution to education. A member of Toastmasters International I am an Advanced Toastmaster Gold (ATMG). I hold a number of degrees and remain actively interested in and contributive to education. A highlight of my 'recent' life (from 2011 until 2016) was contributing to Teacher Education at Charles Darwin University. This has involved marking, tutoring and lecturing in a part time capacity. I was also involved with our Department of Education (NT) as a member of the Principals Reference Group (2012 until 2016) and have worked with others on the establishment of a Principals Coaching and Mentoring program. From 2014, I was the Education Minister's Nominee on the NT Board of Studies until its reconstitution in July 2016. Prior to retirement from full time work I represented the Education Department on the Board (2009 - 2011). I was working in support of students enrolled with the School of Education at CDU from 2012 until 2017. I enjoyed the chance to give back to the profession which over many years has done much for me. From July 2013 until the end of June 2019, I wrote a weekly column about educational matters for the Darwin/Palmerston /Litchfield 'Suns' Newspapers and then the rebranded 'Suns Newspaper' with Territory-wide circulation. This newspaper ceased publication in June 2019. I occasionally write for other papers and am a contributor to professional magazines and online discussion about educational matters. Included were regular contributions to the Australian Council of Education's 'e-Teaching' and 'e-Leading' publications, which ceased as communications organs in December 2017. I hold retired member's status with the Australian Education Union (NT), contributing occasionally to union publications. I am presently working on developing a series of vignettes, aimed at providing information that pre-service and beginning teachers may find useful. They are oriented toward assisting with an understanding of practices that may assist meet professional and teaching needs. To date, 89 of these have been completed. I contribute to general conversations and various groups on ‘Linked In’ and am also a contributor to ‘The Conversation’. I have a blog site at henrygrayblog.wordpress.com and invite you to access it at any time should you so wish. Henry Gray February 28 2020


I have been noticing that in communication both oral and written, more and more people are using the word “of” as a sentence ender.

“Of“ Is not a word that should be used to end sentences. It’s a word that is better used to link phrases within sentences. If the word inadvertently ends a sentence being written, editing should overcome the issue, with replacement of that word and reallocating it somewhere within the text being written.

When communicating orally carry out mental checks of what you’re saying is you speak. It might be that that word is added in a wrong context during the speech. If you make a mental note of what you’ve just said, it will help you to overcome that same mistake in the future.


SUNS 10 2019 278


We are living in an increasingly volatile and unpredictable world. Safety and security are paramount issues and frequently the centre of conversations.

Terrorism is increasingly global and no country or region is guaranteed as safe from its impacts. The Christchurch massacre on March 15 showed that to be the case.

Questions about safety and the uncertainty of security affect both adults and children. For children, one of the most significant impacts has been the requirement that schools develop lock down policies. Policies are periodically drilled for the sake of awareness, so that if schools are under threat they can be safely implemented.

Children of all ages are very aware of what is happening in the world. ‘The good, the bad and the ugly’ elements of life are constantly brought to their attention through media and by listening and contributing to conversations.

Sarah Parry and Jez Oldfield wrote that “While adults often have enough life experience to … take a long term perspective toward such disasters, children can face different challenges.” ( How to talk to children about terrorism, The Conversation, June 5, 2017.) Events such as the Christchurch massacre cause children to “… experience much higher levels of distress than usual. … this can include aches and pains, sleeplessness, nightmares, … (children) becoming very snappy … withdrawn … not wanting to be separated from their parents.” (Op cit)

Shielding children from confronting reality does not work and is an unhelpful strategy. Parry and Oldfield write that “… young people today are exposed to anxiety provoking information like never before. Rather than shielding children from inevitable stressors, we need to focus on arming them with balanced information, compassion, hope and the chance to develop their resilience.” (Op cit)

Rather than hiding the horror of terrorism from children, frank discussion, including answering their questions, is a wiser approach. Parry and Oldfield suggest the following strategies.

• Ask children how they feel about what they have seen or heard. Then address their feelings.

• Remind children that helpers of those distressed are the real heroes. Discuss their bravery, decency and morality.

• Be conscious of the need to “ … enhance children’s confidence, sense of bravery, ability to problem solve and develop their moral compass” through empathetic and understanding parental support.

• Sorting the truth from myth and misinformation that circulates after tragedy, helps children keep things in perspective.

• Be conscious of the need to reassure young people about parental and adult care for their safety. Parry and Oldfield (op cit) offer wise words. “ Being able to reassure young people that they are safe, loved and cared for can make all the difference.”

These considerations are paramount in helping children during uncertain times.


I am deeply concerned about some elements of change proposed for embodiment within the Anti-Discrimination Amendment Act 2022. Amendments to the bill are deemed necessary to overcome perceived elements of discrimination , therefore ensuring equality of opportunity for those who may have been unfairly treated in the past.

My concerns are two-fold. The status and entitlement of faith based schools is under some threat, because legislated stipulations on the employment of staff could impact on the tenets and ethos of these schools. The second concern is the potential of proposed change to require people to be ultra cautious, treading carefully in all speaking environments. I worry for myself and others that scrutiny of speech could lead to allegations of grievance in all environments from formal speech to expressing an overheard opinion. That a grievance is legitimate if someone says something a listener may feel could offend some third person somewhere, is trivialisation to the point of nonsense.

Negative implications and unintended consequences can arise when consultation with all parties and consideration of all viewpoints on key issues of proposed changes to legislation do not take place. It’s also important following initial consultation, that if amendments are then made to proposed legislation (where those amendments haven’t been consulted) they don’t go ahead until secondary consultation takes place.

The first round of consultation met community expectations. It is the ‘hidden’ aspects of proposed bill amendments that no-one knew were coming which have created massive angst and community disquiet.

The bill in its present form, should be stood over for further consultation before debate.

Educate away from welfare dependence

Welfare dependency

My worry about social services is that of dependency. These benefits are interpreted as entitlements that last forever. As a taxpayer for the whole vof my working life, I find it appalling that so many Australians contribute nothing and expect all. That attitude flows through an increasing number of families from one generation to the next.

O ok I’m I read last year that the taxation contributions to government of three average households are necessary to provide annual benefits to but one average welfare dependent family. If that is the case, what hope has our heavily hocked country ever got of achieving monetary independence? I also read that WELFARE is the largest single item of budgetary expenditure! If that is the case, where does it place our country in futurist terms?


My take on the crime epidemic perpetrated by young people is that of parents and primary caregivers being ‘home free’ and absolved of all responsibility for care of their children.

As a retired educator can I add that to suggest young people do not or cannot differentiate between what behaviours are right and what actions are wrong, is a total nonsense. All children in our schools come to an understanding on the right and wrong issues from the time they enter school. Good parents have already begun that process with their children before they start in the early years of schooling.

As a septuagenarian I put it that the issues confronting the community could be managed if the home front neglect and parental dereliction of their parenting duties were confronted. But as I have suggested, they are not held accountable or responsible for their children.

Nothing will change while ever parents are excused from their prime duties of care.

Henry Gray


Rhiannon Down’s revelations (Unis’ get ‘F’ for fail on contract cheating, ‘The Australian’ 3/10) filled me with alarm. Her story took me back to the 1970’s/80’s through to 2000, during my time as an external and internal university student. There was quality academic rigour and expectation placed on students and for some reason any cheating was quickly identified. Fast forward and it seems anything goes, with universities excusing blatant cheating on the grounds of discernment impossibility.

Beyond tertiary studentship I became a part time lecturer and marker at the Charles Darwin University. It seemed to me that if one got to know students, then it was more than possible to pick up on the presentation of untoward work. Seemingly that is no longer the case – or universities are simply turning a blind eye in order to avoid offending students paying handsomely for their education.

Two changes would go a long way to fixing the problem. Markers should be given sufficient time to mark assignments. In my case, I was paid for 20 minutes to mark each paper, meaning I gave many hours voluntarily in order to properly evaluate work. A second change might be a return to examinations, rather than maintaining the continuous assessment approach to tertiary learning. Progress by continuous assessment lends itself to the cheating Down’s describes.



The peace and quiet of Darwin has largely evaporated. A road that was a minor road, passing close to our house in 1987, has become a two-way each-way drive with about 25,000 vehicle movements each day.  Movement is starting earlier and finishing later.

The city throbs to the life injected by tourists and young people who like clubbing. While the suburbs are more austere, the newer ones are far more congested with ever larger houses being build on ever smaller blocks.

Sadly, there is a lot of fighting, ever increasing numbers of traffic accidents, and paramedics who are overworked in conveying victims of accidents and fights to the RoyaL Darwin Hospital.  The wail of ambulance and police sirens regularly punctuate each day and night. 

A lot of long time residents are opting to leave because they feel insecure and believe their property and possessions to be vulnerable. Assaults on people are at an all time high. Shopping centres are often subjected to terrible behaviour by ‘patrons’. Riding on a bus is often like a jungle experience because of unruly passenger behaviour.

Sadly, many of our schools have become unsafe because of fights between students, mainly at secondary but also at primary school level. Students are allowed free access to mobile phones during the day. Many fights are orchestrated in order that ‘fight and film’ episodes can be shared on social media.

The peaceful, quiet and happy Darwin I came to in 1987, is, sadly, a Darwin of the past. Things are out of control and authorities almost hopeless and helpless when it comes to dealing with these issues.  

Sadly, Alice Springs is the same, Katherine has major issues, Nhulunbuy is impacted by socially negative behaviour, while Tennant Creek has been declared the most unsafe place in the NT (and possibly Australia).

The only way is up, but when.


I worked with international students attending CDU for a number of years. During that time I developed notes and support materials I shared with the student cohort at the time.

While now not involved with the CDU, I collated materials that could be of use to overseas students – and indeed local ones. These materials I am more than happy to share by emailing them to students. They are free to those wanting copies.

I am on LinkedIn, have an email address and am more than happy to support those undertaking study. Feel free to make contact.