MGC Alumni Newsletter

23 June 2016
Issue FOUR
A message from our Principal
   20 Years of Cadets at MGC
Spotlight on our Alumni - Vicki Kuczer
How MGC is STEAM Powered, but not from coal…
New Arrivals
Your Alumni News
MGC celebrates law week!
Melbourne Girls' College Staff - 1996
Photo Galleries
Melbourne Girls' College
9428 8955
Yarra Boulevard
Richmond, VIC, 3121

A message
from our Principal


Our fantastic alumni know that MGC has already provided education for our girls with

a forward thinking lens. The New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Report 2015 K-12 Education looks at future trends in education. The report identifies a number of long-term trends in rethinking how schools work in order to bolster student engagement and drive more innovation, as well as shifting to deeper learning approaches, such as project and challenge-based learning. This type of work is reflected in our current project with Professor Yong Zhao, one of the most influential educators in the world today. This project focuses on Entrepreneurial Learning with students developing projects to address real local issues. One example is developing a sustainability project for cleaning the Yarra and providing the approach to Yarra City Council for wider distribution. Our students have met with Professor Zhao in person and via skype links as their project develops. Please see this link for more information.


When Melbourne Girls’ College (MGC) was established in 1994, the Department of Education noted that in a rapidly changing society, which will be increasingly characterised by high technology and scientific achievement, girls’ capacities in these areas needed to be extended. The same is true today.

In terms of current and future thinking, innovation and research, how can MGC lead the way for Australian girls' passion for learning and careers in Science Technology Engineering Art and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.)? Currently Australia is ranked 34 in OECD countries for 15 year old girls' interest and confidence in mathematics.


In August 2015 the Leading Teacher profile of MGC was adapted to include a S.T.E.A.M.) Leader. The vision for this role is that the Leader integrates trans-disciplinary, problem based learning in these key disciplines. The program aims to teach students to think both creatively and critically, to have an engineering and design approach towards real-world problems while building on their mathematical and science base.

Current initiatives include:

  • Establishing a STEAM Centre
  • Collaborating with the NAB on a the girls first session worked on developing a driverless car!
  • A 2017 Space Centre and NASA Tour to the U.S.


I look forward to continuing our alumni work together – honouring the history of MGC and using it to inspire the very best for our current and future girls.


Best regards,

Karen Money


   20 Years of Cadets at MGC

Australian Air Force Cadets
414 Squadron
Melbourne Girls’ College

2016 celebrates 20 years of Air Force cadets at MGC. All past cadets and staff are invited to our celebration on Tuesday 13 December in the DiPasquale Dining Room at MGC for a formal Dining-In night, including the 2016 Presentation of Awards. More information will be available throughout the year, so keep the date free!


Approximately 400 MGC students have been involved in the Australian Air Force Cadet/Air Training Corps program over its 20 years at MGC. Some lasted a couple of weeks, others were involved for six years as a cadet and several have continued as a staff member within the AAFC. We know of six that have entered the Australian Defence Force in all three branches (Army, Navy and Air Force), but there may be more.

The squadron, originally 14 Flight of the Air Training Corps, was instituted as part of the Victorian Youth Development Program in 1997.  The VYDP was implemented by the Government to involve students in Community Service, offer opportunities involving leadership, initiative and teamwork, and to offer accreditation to improve further education/employment opportunities. Now under the Advance Program (different government = different name) we continue to run under their umbrella, along with the support of the RAAF and MGC.


The AAFC is now offered to students as part of their overall education package at Melbourne Girls College, with students from Years 8 to 12 electing to be part of the program. This is the first year that Year 8s have been involved. Cadets are involved in all aspects of the AAFC 4 Wing program, including Powered Flying, General Service Training Camps, Work Experience, Adventure Activities, Promotion Camps and Ceremonial Parades. It was with great joy that in 1999 our Drill team won the WGCDR Crickmore Cup.


The Squadron now parades each Monday after school from 3.10 to 5.30. In the past we have paraded within the school day (Monday, Thursday, Friday – the days vary but the program continues), either within the Enrichment program offered at the school, or overlapping the curriculum – starting at lunchtime and running until the end of the day. Recruits complete their Recruit training through class activities and our Training Camp in March held at RAAF Base Williams – Point Cook. All cadets get the opportunity to fly in a plane – Cessnas in the past, but now the AAFC has its own gliders and Piper Warriors. Other camps offered by the Squadron are a Fieldcraft bivouac at Upper Beaconsfield in July, a Cadet Challenge Rogaine in June and a four-day bivouac in December which was at our school campsite at Eppalock but now at Gilwell Park in Gembrook.  Whilst a few tweaks have been made over the years, any ex-cadets would remember the same (or similar) camps – if it ain’t broke…


Many staff have been involved over the years – the initial team of Cheryl DiPasquale, Graham Brain, Trevor Howlett and Donna Mayhew, then Eva Hookey, Carolyn Hall, Jenny Fulford, Aaron Morrison, Pete Gargiulo, Anna Crosswhite and Jenni Hodgman, and past students including Georgia Kerr, Fran Gelmi, Katherine Gill, Shelley Bird, Mia Van Zeyl, Lauren Lee, Sophie Cooper, Sarah Driscoll and Maddie Blaikie. We have had help from other AIRTC/AAFC staff: Daniel Lowe was the dynamic starter of the program, Melissa Rowles, Deb Kelly, Katharine Cugliari, Josh Hablethwaite and Zach Jones.


Cadets has been a place for a variety of students, from College Captains to the lost souls, from “I want to be in the Defence Force” to “I wonder what this is about”. The AAFC may not be for everyone, but its given many students leadership opportunities, followership development, teamwork, fun, learning, excitement, personal challenge, fun, outdoor experiences, career awareness and self-discipline.


Our honour board sits proudly with the other MGC boards now in the main corridor for all to see and we are aiming to purchase our Squadron banner this year. All donations gratefully received!


Trev Howlett – still the Commanding Officer!

Spotlight on our Alumni -
Vicki Kuczer

Vicki Kuczer

Class of 2000


I am an MGC alumnus (graduating year 2000).  In October-November 2015 I spent 5 weeks in New York negotiating on behalf of Australia at the United Nations (UN) on human rights issues.  That’s me in the photo delivering or national statement to the General Assembly’s Third Committee.  How did I get there? 


After high school I moved to Canberra to study at the Australian National University (ANU), where I completed a Law Degree and an Arts Degree with First Class Honours.  My goal was always to work in human rights and with the multilateral system (i.e. with the UN), so throughout my studies I looked for ways to engage with these issues.  I won a University Prize for my honours thesis which looked at the historical relationship between the UN and the USA.  That’s months of my life sitting in library basements which I’ll never get back, but it’s stood me in good stead as I moved into my professional life.


After University I worked in research for the ANU before moving into the federal Public Service.  I worked for a few years for the Attorney-General’s Department in national security, human rights and international law.  It was a great introduction to working for Government and a good way to develop my interests and academic background into professional expertise.


I moved to AusAID to work on the Australian aid program.  It was a great move.  Working on the aid program I influenced program and policy development, travelled to a dozen or so countries conducting interviews, monitoring and evaluation, and organised major events.  Again I looked for ways to apply my interests and expertise, and I ended up developing a policy to bring a major aid program into compliance with Australia’s human rights obligations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.


After the 2013 election AusAID was merged into the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFAT), and I’ve been working here ever since.  I’m now based in DFAT’s Human Rights Branch.  My team leads Australia’s engagement with the international human rights system, including the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva and the UN General Assembly Third Committee which meets once annually in New York.  And that’s how I go to New York.


I really enjoy my job, even though it’s very challenging, both professionally and personally.  The hours are long, the responsibilities are large, and being a public servant can be complex, but the opportunity to be at the forefront of Australia’s international human rights engagement is amazing.  I’ll keep doing this work for as long as I can!

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How MGC is STEAM Powered,
but not from coal…


By Andrew Vance, Sustainability Coordinator


Melbourne Girls’ College was started as a Science and Technology school for girls, transitioned to a Leadership centre and has recently refocused as a STEAM school (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics). MGC is a world recognised leader in environmental sustainability and has now set its sights on becoming one of the first carbon neutral schools in the country.


In 2015, it became the first Australian recipient of the Zayed Future Energy Prize, which has enabled the school to install grid-connected renewable energy generators that utilise solar, hydro and human power. See video outlining project:

In 2013, it was recognised as the state’s Resource Smart School of the year and has been awarded prizes in student, teacher and community environmental leadership, water and energy conservation, biodiversity management and waste awareness.

MGC’s reputation as a world leader in environmental education has been built by our alumni. The vision shown by key students over the years has contributed to an environmental policy that has influence across the curriculum, day to day operations and community outreach. Our 2004 Environment Captain, Renata Cummings, hosted MGC’s first student environment conference in 2003 in the library with a small audience of enthusiastic enviro reps, which has now grown to an annual tradition which draws in high profile speakers, enthusiastic students from within MGC and over 100 student environmental leaders from a wide range of public and private schools across Melbourne.

The vision of Bella Vadivaloo and Emma Lewis, which began with a 2007 year 9 World Of Ideas project on reconciliation, led to the establishment of a bush tucker garden full of locally indigenous plants (with a curriculum unit linking Wurundjeri culture, agriculture and biodiversity). This is celebrated and expanded annually with an acknowledgment of country ceremony that involves dancing and horticulture workshops led by Wurundjeri community leaders. The bush tucker garden is a joint project with Greening Australia, City of Yarra and other community members that aims to teach students and the wider community about the ecology and traditional cultural uses of indigenous plants, while at the same time restoring the Yarra river habitat corridor for wildlife.

MGC Alumni, many of whom were inspired by environment team projects, have become leaders themselves in the environmental field, with several alumni returning to MGC as mentors for our current students as coordinators with the World Wide Fund for Nature, Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Engineers or industrial designers working with our current students on environmental projects.

We have been visited by world leaders including Dr Jane Goodall in 2011 and The Australian Climate Commissioners, Professors Tim Flannery, Veena Sayajwhalla and Lesley Hughes in 2012.


To reach our ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2020, we need your help. While the Zayed Future Energy Prize has given us a huge step in the right direction, most of the grant has been spent on interactive low-yielding energy generators that maximise educational value and hands-on interactivity to engage people with renewable energy rather than more productive, but ‘out of sight’ generators like solar panels or wind turbines. This was a strategic decision as the aim of the ZFEP is to inspire young people around energy and we know that the only way to address climate change is to look at how humans use energy. Conservation campaigns around water use have been highly successful around the world largely due to the fact that saving water is a more tangible thing to do. Most people could immediately picture a little bit of water, 10L or even 100L. Can you imagine a watt hour, a kilowatt hour or a megawatt? By riding on one of our pedal generators or ergo machines, students and visitors to MGC can now physically experience what it is like to pedal a watt. By pedalling on a bike at the moonlight cinema, you get an insight into how hard it is to pedal enough energy for a latte, to run a hair dryer or power your smart phone.

MGC currently hosts about 1,400 staff and students daily and remains open for sporting and other community groups after hours and across weekend and school holidays, drawing a large amount of electrical power from the grid. Our average daily usage during school term is a megawatt hour (1,000,000 kilowatt hours), while our average daily generation is a tenth of that. This is a huge amount of electricity to generate on site or to purchase from green sources, however it means that by pledging to become a carbon neutral school, it means that we will be making a meaningful impact in the community. The Zayed Prize has enabled us to install the 126 panel, 33kW solar array you see below on the gym roof. We are now looking to crowd fund an expansion to the array by asking community members to sponsor an additional panel.

By sponsoring a panel, you’ll also make a practical contribution to girl’s education that simultaneously improves the environment at the same time. We have currently named one panel in honour of each of the fantastically committed 2015 student Environment Team members and sold an additional 10 panels to community members. Sponsors can now log into the system and investigate how much power they are currently generating, how much energy they have personally generated in the last week, month or year and hence how many Carbon Dioxide emissions their actions have saved, how many trees they have been effectively planted, cars taken off the road etc. to look at the system right now, click here.


This investment continues to give back over the life of the product. It is cutting edge technology that not only acts as an inspiring teaching tool, but also a practical piece of equipment that will provide returns on your investment in terms of carbon abatements and school energy savings.

Your contribution not only fuels the electricity that runs the tools in our students’ classrooms, it is literally improving their future.

For your investment, you can choose the location of your panel on the roof and monitor that panel from the Enphase website, Google Earth or the MGC webpage. You can select the interval at which you would like to receive email updates with the progress of your panel or you log into the system and simply stare at the numbers ticking over all day long.

All donors will receive an annual report on the output of their panel, detailing the energy fed into the grid, emissions saved, equivalent trees planted and other relevant data. Donors can of course choose to be anonymous.

All donations made go to the MGC building fund and will go towards the expansion of the existing solar array.  All donations are tax deductable.


Donations can be made via this link.


The cost of an individual panel is $450

Individuals or groups are able to purchase panels. Panels can be purchased on behalf of businesses, individual students, families or whole classes. If you would simply like to make a donation so that we can expand the array, but do not wish to sponsor a single panel, simply enter the total amount to sponsor under “other” on the Trybooking link above.


The renewable generators that we have installed on site include:
1.    An interactive ground mounted solar array that connects direct to a water feature (named salty the seal and designed and built by industrial designer and MGC alumni Kiran Sohanpal) allows students to change the angle and orientation of the panel and see the change in power demonstrated by salty’s spout into the pond:

2.    A hydro turbine that runs a 12m pipe down the middle stairwell of the main building integrating a solar pump to return water to the roof and a peleton wheel to harness the falling water. This display demonstrates to students that energy can be stored not only in batteries but also as gravitational energy which is converted in electrical power and made available to students via a USB charging wall so that they can power their devices by 100% green energy!


3.    Four Grid-connected pedal generators (AKA mountain bikes connected to re-purposed washing machine motors) located in the gymnasium foyer and publically accessible so that after school hours gym users (including pumped up junior basketballers on weekend) can watch how much energy they can personally generate and compare it to the consumption of the school on our monitoring software.

4.    Four rowing machines that are used in a similar way to the bike generators, but can also be taken to rowing regattas to harness the huge energy potential of our rowers in remote settings and educate a wider audience about the potential of renewable energy.

5.    A grid-connected 33kW solar array made up of 126 PV solar panels connected to microinverters that allow us to monitor our electricity generation down to an individual panel in real time. 

For more information on Sustainability Initiatives at the school and about how you might be involved, please contact Andrew Vance:


New Arrivals

Congratulations Edwena

Congratulations to our Treasurer, Edwena Dixon and her husband Christopher on the safe arrival of their baby boy. Mum and bub are doing well, details to come.









Welcome Griffin Vic Warner

Georgia Schmidt, our Vice President and Ben Warner are thrilled to announce the birth of their son Griffin Vic Warner. Born on the 27/04 at 2:30am weighing in at 3.79kg and 53cm in length. Mum and Griff are doing very well, dad is coping.


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Alumni Association Board


Are you interested in joining the Alumni Association Board?


The Alumni Association Board is made up of the following positions: President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, Director of Communications and Marketing, and 2 to 3 general committee members. Read the list of our official board positions and their standard duties: Alumni Association Board

The governing board is a group of volunteers who are responsible for implementing and overseeing all alumni programs and activities that link alumni back to the College and with each other. Meeting four times a year, board members generously donate their time, skills and efforts during the meetings and to projects conducted and completed outside of meetings.

We are excited to announce the Alumni Association Board is accepting nominations and applications for officers and general committee members. We are looking for bright, creative, diverse, dedicated and enthusiastic alumni who share an interest in event planning and execution, writing in our quarterly alumni magazine, marketing, and strategic planning. In addition, we are seeking general volunteers willing to contact alumni to inform them about upcoming professional, networking and social events. These positions provide the opportunity to learn valuable public relations and communications skills through events planning, communications, marketing, teamwork and networking. Being involved with the Alumni Association fosters a relationship with other graduates and connects you with a network of hundreds of other professionals.

The business of the board is governed by the Rules of the MGC Alumni Board.

If you are interested in joining the Board or willing to help organise alumni events, please contact our President, Suzie Rule at

MGC celebrates law week!

MGC Moot Court

On Thursday the 19th of May, the Humanities Team organised a very successful moot court in celebration of law week at lunchtime in the auditorium. Participants were given the mock court case of DPP v Brown, in which students performed the roles in the murder case of Angela Grollo.

We kindly thank Alumni President Suzie Rule, who opened the mock trials with shared her experience in the area of law and gave students an insight into the workings of a criminal court trial. Suzie provided the students with a comprehensive understanding of the many positions that a lawyer can have today. This insight inspired our participants to enthusiastically argue for or against the accused Mr Robert Brown’s whereabouts regarding the night of unfortunate murder. The court case was full of colourful witnesses and exaggerating hand gestures by the lawyers/barristers. In the end, the members of the jury determined the fate of defendant Robert Brown and sentenced him to a guilty verdict. Although it didn’t end well for the accussed, students were awarded prizes for their outstanding performance.

•    ‘Best Improv’ – Sabrina Brydon;
•    ‘Best One Liner’ – Aybuke Gavas; 
•    ‘Best Knowledge of the Law’ - Claudia Marangoni; and
•    ‘Best Overall Performance’ – Isabella McNamara 


Many thanks to Ms Money, Ms Brown, Ms Sandilands, Ms Trujillo and to all students who took interest in taking part in this great opportunity! We couldn't have done it without you!

Betul Tumenci
The Humanities Team

Alumni Success Stories

We are always looking for inspiring alumni to share their story, so please contact


Melbourne Girls' College Staff - 1996



Photo Galleries

Year 7 - 1996


Year 8 - 1996


Year 9 - 1996


Year 10 - 1996


Year 11 - 1996


Year 12 - 1996


MGC Alumni Newsletter