Official Opening of the Bauer Building at Somerville House
Thank you, Miss Coulson, for your kind introduction. I further thank Principal Kearney for her very kind invitation that I join you for today’s important celebration in the life of this wonderfully uplifting Queensland school.
May I say also how pleased I am to see Somerville’s sister and brother schools – cousin schools, including neighbours, represented here this morning by their principals: the mutually supportive aspect of this educational community is really important in terms of best outcomes for our young people.
And now I too acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands around Brisbane, the Turrbal and Jagera peoples, and extend respectful greetings to Elders past and present, acknowledging particularly the presence of students of Indigenous origin within this fine school community.
The opening of a new building is a significant event in the life of any organisation.
This is particularly so for our schools, because such events demonstrate enthusiasm for the future, and engender confidence in the capacities of our young people.
And as a society, there is precious little more than that for which we can hope.
The Bauer Building I have the privilege of shortly officially opening also wonderfully demonstrates respect for this School’s own significant heritage and history.
And so I was very pleased to learn that when Cumbooquepa retires as a boarding facility, the School intends on reinstating its traditional splendour.
Our students would be interested to know that Cumbooquepa was once a candidate to become Government House, at a time when this School was located on Wickham Terrace and before the Government acquired Fernberg in Paddington in 1910!
The various levels of the Bauer Building itself are named after people who were instrumental to the development of Somerville’s distinctive character.
Kaye and I were first privileged to meet Isabel Bauer in the late 1980s, when a move of the School from South Brisbane to Yeerongpilly was being floated, with the South Brisbane site to host a ‘World Trade Centre’.
Our daughters Carolyn and Alison were then at the School, and as parents we were rather taken with the tradition and wonderful centrality of this great site.
Our initial dismay increased and fed our firm support for the Old Girls’ Association’s unsurprisingly strong campaign against any move.
Throughout that ‘campaign’, we met many Old Girls whose dedication to the School was palpable and inspiring: Isabel Bauer, Valmai Pidgeon, Barbara Duhig, Dawn Peterson to name a few…
The Old Girls won that campaign decisively. It had included a placard bearing ‘protest march’ along Vulture Street which I must say was characterised by dignified restraint.
My own support extended to appearing on a nightly TV news coverage.
I was then a fairly recent appointee to the Supreme Court. I remember asking the then Chief Justice, Sir Walter Campbell, about to be Governor, whether it was alright that I publicly support the Old Girls. He said “go for it”, or something encouraging.
And so this historically significant site, with links to none other than General Douglas Macarthur, remains with us: with its historic tradition and contemporary relevance – as a long-standing centre of educational excellence for young women, many of whom have led, lead and will lead our community, as in their own way, Isabel and her committed team did so effectively those year ago.
Isabel Bauer’s contribution was particularly highlighted to Kaye and me in that way in the 1980s.
She helped retain this amazing site; and my I express my respectful commendation for the then PMSA Council upon its gracious reconsideration of its decision earlier taken.
But her contribution to the School continued, was multi-faceted, and was enduringly beneficial: and that is rightly recognised today.
I thank and congratulate the School and members of the School community who contributed, financially and otherwise, to bringing this project to fruition.
The outcome is truly magnificent: a building which provides contemporary, cohesive accommodation for senior boarding students and innovative learning spaces conducive to personal and academic development.
In short, it is a building of which our entire School community can be extremely proud.
Ladies and gentlemen, young women and girls of Somerville House, Kaye and I thank you once again for your kind invitation to be here today and for your typically warm welcome. We very much look forward to touring the Bauer Building shortly, and to meeting many of you throughout the course of the morning.
It gives me enormous pleasure to shortly join Mrs Kearney, Mr Munro and Mrs Bauer in unveiling the commemorative plaque, thereby declaring officially open the Bauer Building at Somerville House.
What a wonderful school; so wonderfully educating the young women of this amazing State.