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Raffaela Galati-Brown OAM

Raffaela Galati-Brown made a distinguished contribution to the government education system as a school principal at Northlands Secondary College.

Honour Roll

She has achieved as a female principal in an area that is still male dominated, and supported and led her school community in their successful fight to keep their school open. She is committed to Koori education. The success of Northlands Secondary College's Koori education program was recognised nationally yet the school was closed with no alternatives initially proposed for these young people. Raffaela led her school community in a legal and political battle which resulted in the reopening of Northlands Secondary College in 1995.

Today, with Raffaela as Principal, it is still a leader in educational programs for all students and has received national recognition for its contribution to Koori education.

Raffaela went to Sacred Heart Primary School and then the Academy of Mary Immaculate in Fitzroy. In 1978 she completed a BA (Honours) at the University of Melbourne and a Diploma in Education at Melbourne State College. She has been a member of the Technical Teachers Union of Victoria and the Australian Education Union Victorian Branch.

In 1991, she became the Principal of Northlands Secondary College, a college with a major Koori education program. The school community at Northlands is proud of its achievements which include the school winning the Australian Education Union National Reconciliation Award for its whole school contribution to Koori Education. In 2000-01, the school introduced an Adventure Leadership Program for students in Year 10 funded by Melbourne Rotary and run by YMCA. It pilots this as a Certificate I in Vocational Studies and it is a model for other schools.

In 1999, the school introduced the Senior Northlands Alternative Programs (SNAP) to cater for students who have dropped out of school. The success followed the 1997-99 million dollar refurbishment of the College. This, and the raising of more than $250,000 for a new Performing Arts and Music Technology Wing, were led by Raffaela.

The story of Raffaela and the Northlands Secondary College fight to stay open, then re-open after closure by the Kennett Government is legendary. On 20 November 1992, Don Hayward, Minister for Education, announced the closure of Northlands Secondary College and 54 other schools. The fight began immediately. However, by December 1992 the school population was transferred to Thornbury Darebin Secondary College.

Raffaela helped organise and lead the campaign to re-open Northlands Secondary College. She co-ordinated the legal battle with Herman Borenstein and Melinda Richards from Holding Redlich. After the rebel school was locked out of the Northlands Secondary College building, Raffaela helped Deirdre Baksh in establishing the rebel school in Thornbury. Raffaela helped organise funding and materials for the rebel school. The battle with the Government continued for four years.

Northlands Secondary College won the battle before the Equal Opportunity Board in December 1993 but the decision was overturned by Justice Beach in January 1994. Seven months later the Supreme Court decided discrimination had occurred and sent the case back to the Equal Opportunity Board in August 1994. On 14 December 1994 the Equal Opportunity Board ordered the Government to reopen the college and the Government appealed to the Supreme Court. The full bench of the Supreme Court ordered the re-opening of Northlands Secondary College on 17 February 1995 and the school was re-opened 1 March 1995. The school continues to prosper.