Well known innovations in Australia by Churchill Fellows

From composing the Play School theme song, to founding Australia’s first interactive science museum Questacon, our Churchill Fellows know a thing or two on just about everything. This is only just a very small compilation of some of the best known innovations – but there are thousands more!

Well known Winston Churchill Fellow innovations

Playschool Theme song

PLAYSCHOOL THEME SONGRichard Connolly (dec, NSW, 1971).

Richard Connolly was the composer of the Play School theme song, “There’s a Bear in There”, in 1966, with lyrics by Rosemary Milne. Richard went on his Churchill Fellowship to France, Germany, Italy and the UK to study radio broadcasting, especially the making of features and stereophonic production.

playschool logo

Richard Connolly - ABC
Richard Connolly – Churchill Fellow – (images courtesy of ABC)

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QUESTACON – Professor Michael Gore AO (dec, ACT, 1983)

Michael was the founder of the national science institution Questacon in Canberra. Michael was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 1983 to study scientific exhibits at major science centres with the aim of increasing the scope of the Questacon science centre in Canberra, and went to Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, UK and the USA.

In his Fellowship report submitted on his return to Australia, Professor Gore said “the knowledge which was gathered… in leading science museums around the world will be of immense value to the future development of the Questacon and indeed to science centres and museums throughout Australia. The work that was carried out during this Fellowship has indeed followed on the Churchillian maxim that, “with opportunity comes responsibility”. A specialist committee of the Commonwealth government was appointed to investigate his findings, Parliament approved the proposal, and 1988 Questacon opened to the public on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.

Michael Gore, Founder of Questacon - image courtesy of ABC
Michael Gore, Founder of Questacon – (image courtesy of ABC and Questacon)

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Neighbourhood Watch

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH – Christopher Coster (VIC, 1987)

Former Victoria Police Chief Inspector Chris Coster was among the first people involved in setting up Neighbourhood Watch in Victoria back in 1982. Christopher went on his Churchill Fellowship in 1987 to Canada and the USA to bring back findings to Australia to strengthen and broaden the program nationally.

Christopher Coster
Christopher Coster – Churchill Fellow – image courtesy of Neighbourhood Watch VIC, Police Life Winter 2019 and Victoria Police

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Crime Stoppers

CRIME STOPPERSGeoffrey Wilkinson (VIC, 1985)

Crime Stoppers Victoria commenced operation in 1987. It followed a Churchill Fellowship report by Geoff Wilkinson, then director of media for Victoria Police, who had investigated programs in America and Britain for enlisting the community in ‘crime solution’. Geoff recommended that Victoria Police implement a program involving the police, media and the public. The police subsequently employed the Crime Stoppers concept.

 Geoff Wilkinson, Churchill Fellow, photo courtesy of Herald Sun
Geoff Wilkinson, Churchill Fellow, image courtesy of Herald Sun

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Supermarket unit pricing


Every supermarket ticket in Australia with the unit price number on it can hail back to the Churchill Fellowship undertaken by Ian Jarratt. Ian went on his Churchill Fellowship to Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, USA and UK, and he found that unit pricing would be very beneficial for Australian consumers and the economy by significantly increasing informed consumer choice. Ian recommended that Australian grocery retailers be required to provide unit pricing for pre-packaged grocery products. Ian publicised the results widely and led a campaign to achieve this. Supermarket unit pricing was recommended in 2008 by a national inquiry into grocery prices and national legislation was implemented in 2009.

Ian Jarrett
Ian Jarratt, Churchill Fellow
Unit pricing on supermarket tickets

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ABC's Gardening Australia

ABC GARDENING AUSTRALIA – Peter Cundall (dec) (TAS, 1974)  Peter travelled on his Churchill Fellowship overseas to study, and bring back to Australia information on the following: gardening presentation for television programs, organic growing techniques, modern landscaping practices and children’s playground design. The study tour took Peter through the United States, Britain and South Africa.

Peter’s Churchill Fellowship enabled him to gain friendly, willing access to many significant institutions: US, UK and South African TV and radio stations and universities, top-rating BBC gardening program makers and presenters in addition to botanic gardens, community food gardens, many leading horticulturalists and numerous individual journalists and media presenters.

On Peter’s return he was able to put the new knowledge gained into immediate practice, especially during the production of gardening programs for ABC-TV and Radio. This led to Peter being appointed main presenter on the ABC’s national ‘Gardening Australia’ program for many years.

Peter Cundall, Churchill Fellow
ABC Gardening Australia – image courtesy of ABC

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