Hall of Fame

Gwenyth Graham AM

Gwenyth Graham was awarded the Order of Australia (AM) in 2005 “For service to the community, particularly Indigenous people, refugees and asylum seekers through a range of church and welfare organisations in Western Australia.”

Gwenyth Graham (nee Bowen) was born in Subiaco in 1928. She became a Correspondence School student in 1938 when the small local school she attended near Boddington closed due to lack of numbers. In 1940 she won a scholarship to Perth Modern School, at that time a selective public school that prepared students for study at the University of Western Australia. She was the first Correspondence School student to win the coveted scholarship and she went on to complete an Arts degree and a Diploma of Education. Gwenyth’s commitment to social justice led to an interest in working in the developing world. She enrolled in nursing and became a midwife knowing that this would be a useful skill.

During the 1950s and 1960s Gwenyth and her husband, Peter, a medical doctor, lived in Derby and then in many developing countries. During this time, she made lifelong friendships within the Aboriginal community in Derby, particularly the Mowanjum people. Overseas she became involved with youth and women’s groups and opened her home to those who needed it, and at one stage in the 1960s taught her own children through the WA Correspondence School.

After the family’s return to WA in 1970, Gwenyth joined the WA branch of Amnesty International and was actively involved in mobilising support for Prisoners of Conscience, meeting with foreign government visitors, and lobbying political parties. She also opened her home to accommodate homeless people. In 2000 she began her support of refugees on Temporary Protection Visas, in conjunction with the Coalition Assisting Refugees After Detention (CARAD). She became the full-time voluntary coordinator of a team of about 20 volunteers, organising accommodation, furniture, educational and further material support.

Troy Sivan

Troye Sivan Mellet was born in South Africa in June 1995 and migrated to Australia with his family at the age of two. Known professionally as Troye Sivan, he began singing and acting at an early age. To allow him to pursue his creative ambitions, he enrolled at the School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE) in 2009.

Troye’s theatrical roles have included Oliver Twist in Oliver! and Boy in Waiting for Godot. As a film actor he was cast in the role of the young James Howlett in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and in the title role of Spud in the three South African films of the same name. In 2018 he appears in the film Boy Erased.

Concurrent with his burgeoning acting career, Troye figured highly as a singer in Australian talent competitions. His track The Fault in Our Stars, inspired by the John Green novel, was hugely successful and Troye donated all proceeds from the song to Perth’s Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation. As is fitting for someone educated at an online school, he gained worldwide popularity as a performer through social media. He currently has over 6.6 million subscribers on YouTube, and his videos have garnered almost a billion views. In 2012 he self-released an EP, and after signing with EMI and Capitol had his next two EPs chart in Billboard’s top ten. He continues to release albums such as Blue Neighbourhood (2015) and Bloom (2018), which debuted on Billboard at No. 4.

In 2014, Troye Sivan Mellet was named one of Time magazine’s 25 most influential teens.

Dr Martin

Dr Martin Dougiamas is best known as the founder of the open-source Moodle project, providing a free-to-use learning platform used worldwide in every education sector. Moodle allows educators to create a private space online filled with collaborative learning tools for K-12, higher education and workplaces. First released in 2001, Moodle is now used in 229 countries delivering online courses that have more than 600 million enrolments. Moodle is a key part of operations for leading education institutions like SIDE, as well as big organisations such as the United Nations, World Vision International and the US Defence force.

Martin was a primary student at Kalgoorlie School of the Air in the late 1970s (then part of the WA Correspondence School) and lived in the remote Aboriginal community of Warburton with his parents and pet kangaroos, communicating with his teacher and classmates over shortwave radio and plane-delivered worksheets.

Martin has a varied academic background with multiple post-graduate degrees in Computer Science and Education and two honorary doctorates. It was while studying at Curtin University that Martin began creating an online learning management system for students, and his childhood experiences prepared the ground for the thinking behind what he created. He continues to focus on researching how technology can support teaching and learning in open and human ways, aiming at solving the UN’s sustainable development goals.

As the CEO of Moodle Pty Ltd (based in Perth, Australia and Barcelona, Spain) he leads a company of 70 software developers and educators that guides and supports the Moodle project (including MoodleCloud, Moodle Mobile and other initiatives). Moodle Pty Ltd has also created a global network of over 80 certified Moodle Partner companies that has helped provide funding for this independent software project through a sustainable business model since 2003.

Martin Dougiamas has received numerous awards for his work, and was nominated for WA Australian of the Year in 2017.

Mr Eakins

Clarence Eakins was Western Australia’s pioneer in correspondence education. Born in 1888, he had a successful career as a teacher and headmaster in rural schools prior to being one of two teachers who established the Correspondence School in 1918. He was appointed its first headmaster in May, 1920, a position he held for 31 years.

Clarence’s term as Head of the Correspondence School was marked by changes in curriculum, teaching practice, and technology. A comprehensive curriculum was developed covering Infants to Junior Certificate and this was offered to many different categories of students. Itinerant teachers were appointed to visit and work with isolated students and many innovations and new philosophies were employed.

Clarence had a keen interest in natural history. He wrote, and encouraged others to write many articles in this field in Our Rural Magazine, a monthly journal for correspondence students first compiled in 1926. In 1939 he was a Foundation Member of the WA Gould League and participated in this organisation until his death in 1975.

In association with A.E. Williams, Clarence wrote an extensive set of Social Studies text books for use in Australian schools. He was also responsible for the writing of a short history of the WA Correspondence School.

The story of correspondence learning in Western Australia is really the story of Clarence Eakins, and his legacy continues to inspire to this day.

Clarence Eakins Award

In honour of the contributions Mr Eakins made to distance education from 1919 - 51, the School of Isolated and Distance Education has awarded a scholarship for a Year 10 distance education student going on to Years 11 and 12 since 1993.

Sadie Canning

Sadie Canning was Western Australia’s first Aboriginal nurse. She was a member of the Stolen Generations and grew up at a mission in the north eastern goldfields.

Sadie Miriam Canning (née Corner) was born near Laverton in 1930. She was removed from her family when she was four years old and taken to the Mt Margaret Mission. She studied with the WA Correspondence School from Class 5 (Grade 6) through to the Junior Certificate with the goal of becoming a nurse. At that time Aboriginal women were barred from nursing training in Western Australia, so Sadie travelled to Melbourne to train as a nurse in Melbourne. She returned to Western Australia and worked in nursing. In 1956 Sadie was appointed to the position of Sister at the Leonora District Hospital and was subsequently promoted to the position of Matron, which she held until her retirement late in 1990.

Sadie Canning’s outstanding contribution and devoted service to nursing, improving facilities and indigenous healthcare in Western Australia was recognised in the Queens’ Birthday Honours in 1964 when she was awarded a MBE (Member of the British Empire). She was a Justice of the Peace and also served on many committees. In 1977 she received a QEII Silver Jubilee Medal for her service to country nursing in Western Australia. In her retirement she was a member of the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation and the State Reconciliation Committee. She also served on the board the Australian Children’s Trust and was a patron of the Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses.

When asked about her memories of correspondence lessons Sadie remembered “receiving her work back together with lovely letters from her teacher, Mrs Bowman.” She enjoyed studying Physiology and Hygiene because she wanted to be a nurse. She believed that education was very important and credited her education with her enjoyment of her life and her career success. “Education is the key to success because it enables you to determine your own future, because you know what is happening and you can think for yourself and represent yourself and others in your community.”

“She was an inspiration to many. She has been in every way an outstanding ambassador. What she showed was that an Aboriginal woman could get to the top in a white person's world.”

Professor Fiona Stanley on Sadie Canning’s death in 2008.


Tonya McCusker (nee Batalin) was a student at Mt Pleasant Primary School and then Applecross High School. When she was 14, she won a scholarship to study classical ballet in Monte Carlo. Distance education from 1983 - 1985 enabled her to continue her academic studies in Europe and then in Melbourne. Tonya studied at a time before online learning, so she dealt with long delays in submitting and receiving her schoolwork through the mail. Despite the difficulties, she successfully graduated at the end of Year 12.

Tonya achieved her dream of dancing with the Australian Ballet Company and touring the world, before returning to the University of Western Australia where she completed a Law Degree. She then went on to achieve a Postgraduate Diploma in Management through Henley Management College (UK) and worked in Hong Kong for five years. Tonya has worked as Business Development Manager for the Leeuwin Youth Development Foundation and Chamber of Commerce. She married Malcolm McCusker AC CVO QC, Governor of Western Australia from 2011-2014.

Tonya McCusker is currently the Administrator and a Director of the McCusker Charitable Foundation, working closely with more than 100 charities. She is a Trustee for Telethon and a board member with the Minderoo Foundation and the McCusker Centre for Citizenship. She has three children and credits the opportunity of being able to continue her academic studies through distance education as a significant factor in helping her achieve her life goals to date.


Tamsin Cook was born in South Africa and moved with her family to Perth, Australia at the age of 8 in 2007. In Perth she enjoyed a variety of sports such as surf club, hockey and horse riding before focusing on swimming.

Tamsin participated in the 2014 Junior Pan Pacific Championships in Maui, Hawaii and announced herself as a star of the future at the 2015 FINA Junior World Championships in Singapore. She won gold in the 400m freestyle, was a part of the Junior World Record-breaking 4x200m freestyle gold medal winning team, and won silver in the 200m butterfly. Just under a year out from the Rio Olympic Games, Tamsin set her personal best time of 4:06.17 in Singapore. That time made her the sixth fastest Australian female swimmer in the 400m Freestyle event.

After such a successful international campaign, Tamsin was named Western Australia Institute of Sport's Junior Athlete of the Year in October 2015. She decided to make swimming her priority, and this led her to move to the School of Isolated and Distance Education (SIDE) for the flexibility and support offered by the elite athlete program.

In 2016, at just 17 years of age, Tamsin was the youngest swimmer selected for the Australian Olympic Team for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. In the 400m freestyle she produced a personal best time of 4:04.36 to finish sixth in the Olympic final, and then went on to anchor the 4 x 200m freestyle relay to a memorable silver medal along with Emma McKeon, Bronte Barrett and Leah Neale.

Tamsin completed her education at SIDE in 2017 and is pursuing academic study at the University of Western Australia. She is currently completing a Bachelor of Arts with a direct pathway to postgraduate studies in law.

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