C. Margaret Cowin

Psychologist

Margaret (BA; BEd; TPTC; MAPS; MACE), née Boyd, attended Camberwell High School from 1946 to 1949 before going on to McRobertson Girl’s High School for her matriculation year. She was a keen student and an enthusiastic hockey player. A studentship then supported two years at Toorak Teachers’ College followed by a BA with a double major in Psychology at Melbourne University.

Margaret taught at Brighton St, Richmond Primary School, before moving into the Education Department’s Psychology Branch. She was elected to the British (later Australian) Psychological Society and she witnessed the advent of equal pay for men and women in the Education Department.

While rearing children, she put her professional skills to use in coaching and relieving preschool teachers. Margaret was elected to the Boronia West Primary School committee where she served as secretary and chairman.

From 1970–1979, Margaret worked in Dandenong as a guidance officer (educational psychologist), working with individual children who had learning difficulties and behaviour problems, as well as major projects such as the Ferntree Gully Inspectorate Prep Program. During this time she wrote Preparing for School, which became the official Departmental publication on this topic, and which went into five expanded editions over ensuing years. Working part-time gave Margaret the opportunity to do further study and she graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Education degree in 1978. In the same year she was admitted into the Australian College of Education.

In 1981 she was appointed as a senior guidance officer with a state-wide responsibility for liaison with the Primary Division of the Education Department, particularly with assisting schools to develop whole-school discipline policies to include approaches that did not rely on corporal punishment. As a result, Margaret, with five others, wrote Positive School Discipline: A practical guide to developing policy.

Later appointments included policy analyst in the area of integration of the disabled, and Senior Education Officer and Manager of the Frankston School Support Centre, a multi-disciplinary organisation with a staff of around 60. At the time it was one of the most senior appointments in the Ministry of Education.

Margaret set up her own consultancy business in 1992, and also became involved in her community through the local council’s Australia Day and Economic Development Advisory Committees;  the Board of the Angliss Hospital; and chaired  the Board of Management of the Knox Community Health Service from its inception. In 2003 she was awarded a Centenary Medal in recognition of her services to the community.

In retirement she has become an active member of the Rotary Club of Knox.

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