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About Us - History

From little things, big things grow ...

Pre-History of the AGTV 

Teachers of German worked on a sub-committee of the Modern Language Teachers Association of Victoria (MLTAV) before the decision was taken to found the Association of German Teachers of Victoria (AGTV) and the first meeting was held in 1979.


History Page last updated 2 May 2019

Heather Stock chaired the meeting as a final duty before going on an International Teaching Fellowship to Germany. Heather recalled the background and circumstances in which the idea for a single language association for German was formed in an article printed in SZENE in 2009.


The first Committee was elected at the first Annual General Meeting on 24th April 1979. Its Office Bearers were elected by the Committee at the first Committee Meeting on 7th May 1979.

The AGTV was later incorporated in 1992, an initiative of the then President Andrew Ferguson.

The volunteer Committee is responsible for and manages the finances, insurance, administration and Committee business of the association including professional development, activities and projects for teachers and students. Personnel from the Goethe-Institut in Victoria are also members of the AGTV Committee. Committee meetings are usually held at the premises of the Goethe-Institut in Melbourne.

Presidents of the AGTV since 1979: Milena Pallaghy, Eva Conway, Rod Wilson, Sally Happell, Andrew Ferguson, Catherine Gosling.

Early activities of the Committee included: Year 10 Immersion Camps (before so many partner-schools were developed), Bunter Nachmittag programs for Year 9 students, Year 12 Days, workshops for teachers, German Film Days, and occasional cultural programs e.g. Goethe Abend, private viewings at the NGV International.

The AGTV has always worked in close collaboration with the Goethe-Institut. The relationship has evolved over time in response to changing circumstances. The AGTV now jointly funds many events with Goethe-Institut Australia, such as the German Day Out, the Victorian State Conference, and prizes for the annual School Film Festival.

An article was published in the MLTAV publication 'Languages Victoria' in 2009 on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the AGTV. Download the article HERE.



Each AGTV membership includes a complimentary subscription to SZENE.

In May 1981, the first edition of the AGTV journal SZENE was published in time for sale at the MLTAV Congress. The first editor being Rolf Klieme from the Goethe-Institut in Melbourne. In the first year, there were 5 issues, the fifth printed in 1982. In the first issue, there was an article about the linguistic differences between Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The use of German in DACHL has always been a focus of the AGTV.

There have been four different themed covers, the last reflecting its status as a national journal. When SZENE became an annual journal in 2016, the cover of SZENE changes each year. Since SZENE became an annual publication in 2016, there is a different cover each year.

SZENE had its first email address in 1999.

SZENE has always been posted to teachers throughout Australia, and in 1987 there were Convenors for SZENE in SA, ACT, NSW, QLD, TAS and WA.

In 1993, the South Australian German Teachers Association (SAGTA) included a subscription to SZENE in their annual membership.

The Network of Australian Teachers of German (NATG) endorsed SZENE as the national journal for German teachers in Australia.

SZENE continues to be published by the AGTV with the contracted services of an Editor and in cooperation with the NATG.

Editors of SZENE: Rolf Klieme, Fred Dobberstein, Rod Wilson, Immi Waechter, Ruth Brass, Brigitte Remmen, Volker Wolf, Martina Stobart, Elsa Viertmann, Cheryl St George, Christine EkinSmyth and our current editor, Maja Herr.

In 2018, Katja Schoenfelder trialled the role of Assistant to the Editor, a role she still holds.


The Goethe-Institut has been a supportive partner of teachers of German since the first office in Australia was opened in Melbourne in 1972. The Goethe-Institut has provided important opportunities to bring key stakeholders together to promote cooperative partnerships to support German.

We cannot overestimate the value of this mutually beneficial partnership has been for both teachers and students in Victoria and beyond.

  • Photo of Eva Schulz & AGTV - Eva retired in 2013 as Deputy Director of Goethe-Institut Australien after being first employed at the GI in February 1979 as a member of the office staff.

Personnel from the Goethe-Institut were instrumental in assisting the first  Committee in initiating services including a weekend conference, SZENE and in 1988, the AGTV-BJR Exchange program. The premises at 606 St Kilda Road in Melbourne were offered for Committee meetings when the AGTV was founded in 1979 until a government state wide facility was used. The Goethe-Institut offered the use of their premises at 448 St Kilda Road in the late 1990s when the Committee was looking for space to meet and met there until the end of 2016. The AGTV Goethe Boutique cabinet was housed at the premises at 448 St Kilda Road selling promotional and curriculum materials for several years until the end of 2018.

For many years, the Goethe-Institut provided a German Adviser to support teachers. At one time, there were two advisers, one based at the Goethe-Insitut and one based at the Education Department. Teachers worked with Language Advisers in to produce various resources such as the Botanic Garden Kit, NGV Art Gallery Kit, Immigration Museum Kit, Sport in Australien (Inter Nationes), often with funding support from the Victorian Government.

The Victorian Goverhment provides some support for the Goethe-Institut to support German in schools. The Goethe-Institut continues to assist the Victorian Government in facilitating the language assistant program in government schools.

Many teachers have enjoyed scholarships to Germany to attend language cultural or methodology coureses for 2 to 8 weeks in length. Some scholarships are also offered to students. The annual Summer School immersion program was a highlight for many teachers in years past. The last summer school was held in January 2018.

The AGTV worked collaboratively with successive teams at the Goethe-Institut on many projects and initiatives, often co-funding events to promote the teaching and learning of German in Victorian schools. These included professional learning events for teachers, the GI School Film Festival, the German Day Out at the Melbourne Town Hall and f(or a few years) at Federation Square, and the production of promotional materials.

The AGTV is grateful for the support the Goethe-Instiut provides for teachers through the provision of GI Resource Centres since 1999. The Goethe-Institut in St KIlda Road also offers movies, posters and promotional activities for students. Professional learning facilitators are supported by the Goethe-Institut to present at conferences and support teachers in schools.

Among other services for education the GI continutes to provide are: cultural events, exhibitions, language courses, the development of teaching materials, forums for discussion, national conferences and support for local conferences, resource centres for teachers throughout Victoria, support for local film festivals, and a dedicated website for Australia. The Goethe-Institut also provides support for the Network of Australian Teachers of German (NATG) and the teachers' journal SZENE.

In 2009, the Goethe-Institut founded the PASCH-Schule program in Australia, a program initiated by the Foreign Office in Germany. In 2017, Box Hill HS was selected as the first mainstream school for this program in Victoria. The Deutsche Schule Melbourne and German Saturday School are also part of the program. These schools receive support for the German programs, scholarships for teachers and students, and access to other opportunities within the PASCH program worldwide. In recent years, the focus has been in STEM and the GI has also supported the development of programs and materials to support CLIL in schools.

The Goethe-Institut's first home was in the Hoechst builiding at 606 St Kilda Road Melbourne before the move to 448 St Kilda Road in 1999.

AGTV-BJR Exchange

Immi Waechter from the Goethe-Institut in Melbourne met Gerhard Böttcher from the Bayerischer Jugendring (BJR) in 1987 to discuss the possibility of providing this reciprocal student exchange program to Australian students. The AGTV welcomed the opportunity and in 1988, Ellen Dunn coordinated the first exchange. Gerhard Böttcher has been the BJR contact in Bavaria its initiation. He was made a Life Member of the AGTV to reflect the importance and success of the program in Victoria. This was presented to Gerhard at the 20 year anniversary of the exchange celebrated through a gala dinner at the MCG on the 23 February in 2008.  Gerhard retired in 2014 and the new contact in Munich for the exchange is Thomas Angermeier.

In 2010, the AGTV were successful in renewing its status as a Registered Exchange Organisation with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA), which is a credit to the professionalism of the of the exchange, the comprehensive support processes provided, and the work of succesive coordinators in facilitating the exchange within government guidelines. Without this registration, government schools would not be able to accept students from this exchange. A significant fee has to be paid to the VRQA as well as payment for specific insurance for the program to comply with the criteria for registration.

The AGTV is a non-profit incorporated association and the exchange is operated on a cost-recovery basis to ensure its financial viability and ongoing registration. Students from member schools pay a reduced administration fee to participate in the exchange.

AGTV Coordinators of the BJR Exchange since 1988: Ellen Dunn, Eva Conway, Pauline Rogan, Heather Rae, and Christine EkinSmyth. Brigitte Ankenbrand has been appointed the next AGTV-BJR Coordinator when Christine steps down in 2018.


Society for Australian-German Student Exchange (SAGSE) Scholarship

Now known as Scholarships for Australian-German Student Exchange

Prior to the foundation of the AGTV in 1979, the MLTAV subcommittee for German funded a scholarship through SAGSE. The first AGTV scholarship was funded in 1979 and awarded to Catherine Gosling. For many years it was known as the Ruth Brass Memorial Scholarship and fundraising to support this was a major activity of the Committee. It is a unique opportunity for students in Years 11 and 12 to spend an extended period living with a family in Germany. We are indebted to the SAGSE Committee and all sponsors for their ongoing commitment to students learning German. A representative of the AGTV is part of the panel who select students for the scholarships.


Victorian State Conferences

The Goethe-Institut and AGTV Committee facilitated state conferences (formerly weekend inservces) for many years, usually with international, interstate and Victorian presenters. Some conferences were combined with the Goethe-Institut National Conference for Teachers of German. Locations of conferences in Victoria have included: Warburton, Marysville, Lorne, Ballarat, Merrijig, Geelong, Melbourne, Kilmore, Mount Eliza and various places in Melbourne.

In 2019, the Committee of the AGTV will organise the Victorian State Conference in Melbourne.


Professional Learning Links with Austria

Judy Hajdu, a Life Member of the AGTV, initiated contact with Austria. The visit resulted in the Austrian government funding a keynote speaker to attend the GI/AGTV State Conferences through the Kultur und Sprache section of the Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur (BM:UKK). The first speaker presented in Lorne in 2000 and a speaker has presented each year since. Austria also offerers a 2-week seminar in Austria to the AGTV funded by Kultur und Sprache. Judy Hajdu was offered the first opportunity to attend a seminar and the following year the offer was made to the President Catherine Gosling. After that, the Committee resolved to offer a travel subsidy to a member of the Committee to participate in a seminar. If an eligible Committee member cannot attend, then it is offered to a Network Leader, then individual members as determined by the Committee.  Kultur und Sprache (KUS) have funded a speaker for our annual conference each year. Gertrud Hoellerbauer was our key contact from Kultur und Sprache until her retirement in 2011. Norbert Habelt is our new contact.

Committee members who have been to Austria since 2000: Judy Hajdu, Catherine Gosling, Dave Nutting, Phill Grant, Heike Mueller, Sarah Buckman, Michael Atkinson, Jaclyn Curnow, Liz Ray, Michael Foster, Brigitte Ankenbrand, (no-one in 2012), Clare Fleming, Helena Salles, Kylie Wallace, Pauline Rogan, Felicity Woodward, Josephine Lloyd, Warren Pratt.

NB: Dave Nutting produced a website on return about Vorarlberg an der Bodensee with classroom materials. This was housed on Germanlinx but this is no longer online.

Guests from Kultur und Sprache at Victorian or National Conferences include: Barbara Huemer (Lorne), Thomas Fritz (Lorne). Roland Fischer (Merrijig), Dirk Lyon (Merrijig), Helga Längauer-Hohengassner (Ballarat), Hannes Schweiger (Geelong), Walter Thalhammer (Melbourne), Helga Mitterhumer (Geelong), Wolfgang Malik (Lancefield), Paul Rusch (Geelong), Wolfgang Gratzer (Melbourne), Vera Ahamer (Melbourne), Robert Bösiger (Mount Eliza), Valerie Bauernhof (Melbourne), Clemens Tonsern (Melbourne), Jürgen Ehrenmüller (Melbourne), Andreas Kurz (Melbourne), Sandra Reitbrecht (Melbourne).


AGTV Years 4 to 9 Victorian Poetry Competition

The idea for a Victorian competition was brought to the Committee by Peter Richards, who was a teacher of German at St Pauls Anglican Grammar School in Gippsland. He had been running a competition with schools in Gippsland. The Committee believed the idea had merit and founded a competition for Years 8 and 9 in 1993. The state wide competition was a one-day event and the judging took place at the Club Tivoli in Windsor. It was considered a success and the competition in 1994 was extended to Years 5 and 6, and then to Year 7. Year 4 were invited to compete at Regional Finals in  2014.  The competition helped activate formal AGTV Networks when the introduction of a Regional Final was introduced for students to win to gain access to the State Final. The State Final has been held in the Austrian Club in Heidelberg for many years, where up to 350 students and families attend from across Victoria. This competition has been a successful strategy to promote German in schools and to celebrate cooperation of teacher across Victoria. The competition is an exclusive opportunity for students from member schools. The Victorian government has provided funding in some years through the grant to the AGTV.

Sponsors of the Years 5 to 9 Perpetual Shields: Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, Association of German-speaking Communities, Monash University.

AGTV Statewide Convenors of the AGTV Victorian Poetry Competition over the years: Christine EkinSmyth, Catherine Gosling, Ros Coffey, Tina Wilkinson, Maria McCluskey, Katherine Halpin, Liz Ray, Brigitte Ankenbrand, Helena Salles.


AGTV Networks

History: The formal development of teacher networks in Victoria was a joint initiative of the AGTV, the (then) Victorian Department of Education, the Goethe-Institut in Melbourne and the German Adviser - Volkmar Sturm.

The AGTV received a seeding grant from the Department of Education in 1994 to further develop teacher Networks for German. Volkmar had visited many schools in country and metropolitan Victoria and could identify key people who could help motivate teachers to meet locally for professional development. The AGTV appointed a Network Coordinator - Christine EkinSmyth - to liaise with and find Network Leaders throughout Victoria. Christine had been a Consultant for German in the Wimmera Region. Key people were invited to a meeting in Melbourne to be presented with the idea of AGTV Networks. Some Networks were already operating and agreed to come under the umbrella of the AGTV, other teachers agreed to go out an start on and the founding of a state wide AGTV Poetry Competition acted as a catalyst for the formation of others. Karin Bell from the then Barwon-South-West Network was the next Network Coordinator before the Committee assumed responsibility for the Networks and Liz Ray took over from Karin. The

  • Photo of Volkmar Sturm - sitting with Dom Vogl (former member of the AGSC) at the 30 Jahre AGTV celebration in 2009

Networking for teachers is an effective strategy to promote cooperative partnerships, to deliver professional learning programs to teachers to meet local needs, for sharing resources, for communicating with the AGTV membership and for the organisation of student activities within the Network and beyond. The AGTV model has been recognised by the Department of Education as an example of best practice over the years.

As the landscape for teachers changes and demands on teachers increase, so does the role of networks. There are AGTV Networks across country and metropolitan Victoria led by volunteer AGTV Network Leaders overseen by the Committee of the AGTV.


Goethe-Institut Resource Centres

Teachers and students in each AGTV Network have enjoyed access to quality resources housed in Goethe-Institut Resource Centres since 1999. This idea was originally conceived through discussions at the former Victorian Joint-Standing Committee for German.

The Goethe-Institut sign a Memorandum of Understanding with a school or library to house the resources and guarantee teachers and students of German free access to the materials. From time to time the resources are moved to different locations within the network.


Victorian Government Grants

The AGTV is grateful for grants from successive Victorian governments. These grants support our work; they are spent within government guidelines, and reported on each year. They have provided the AGTV to expand the services provided, including the funding of the Germann Day Out and Network Leader Conferences. The withdrawal of the grant would severely impact on the services we can provide. However, we believe we provide excellent value for the money we receive. It is a mutually beneficial partnership.


National Cooperation: Network of Australian Teachers of German

After many years of discussion, the Network of Australian Teachers of German (NATG) was founded in 2002 in Adelaide to support communication and cooperative partnerships between teachers of German from all states and territories in Australia. 

Rainer Buhtz, the from Goethe-Institut Melbourne, arranged an informal meeting between the then Presidents of the AGTV - Catherine Gosling - and SAGTA - Michael Parfitt - to discuss how such a network might operate. The AGTV was instrumental in facilitating this collaboration by inviting representatives to our Network Leaders conference in Lorne in 2001, where a firm commitment was finally made by representative from other states and territories present. Michael Parfitt was the first Secretary of the NATG, a responsibility of the state or territory in which the next Annual Meeting is held.

The Goethe-Institut Australia funds an annual NATG meeting for representatives from other associations and networks from every state and territory in Australia, the AusDaF webmaster and the Editor of SZENE. The NATG representatives report on the situation for German in their region, share ideas and resources, and discuss  ways of promoting national cooperation. A significant achievement of the NATG was to secure funding from the Goethe-Institut for a national website for the NATG known as AusDaF, as well as facilitating communication through a national email network. The AGTV publication SZENE is also endorsed as the National Journal for Teachers of German.

  • Lorne 2001 - Photo of AGTV Executive, NW Leaders, invited representatives from other states and territories, and Goethe-Institut personnel
  • AusDaF - Website of the NATG
  • NATG Annual Meeting 2011 - Photo of representatives from all states and territories in Australia in Adelaide in 2011


Materials and the AGTV Goethe Boutique

The AGTV has always offered materials for sale. A major fund-raising event in the early days was the annual MLTAV Congress, where the AGTV sold materials (some were Inter Nationes materials donated to the AGTV by the Goethe-Institut) and also the very popular Kaffee und Kuchen. One valuable item was a photocopied two-page list of essay topics for $5 and worth every cent. These were the days before emails and the only contact you had was at conferences.

From time to time the AGTV develops and publishes curriculum or promotional materials or provides assistance in either their development or publication. Many of these have been provided free to schools or to Resource Centres, or are (or were) available for purchase.  In past days the AGTV developed June and October Tests, Essay Topics, Cat 3 Resources Kits, and Stickers for sale.

The AGTV Goethe Boutique was an AGTV enterprise to help fund our services, including the production of materials. The AGTV purchased a cabinet to display the items for sale including items produced by Goethe-Institut Australia.

Other curriculum materials produced include CD/CD-Rom Kits: Frohes Fest!, Toi! Toi! Toi!, Märchen  Resource Kit, Practice Exam for Senior Students of German, and an AGTV certificate for junior secondary students - Ein guter Start in Deutsch. Some promotional itesm are occasional produced for sale or to give away. Recent giveaways include the Choose German postcard and series of posters.

The AGTV is not registered for the GST and cannot claim input taxes. 


Development of Websites

The AGTV was the first Single Language Association to host its own website, which was developed by Andrew Ferguson. The website was live in November 1996 and managed by Andrew until he stepped down from the role in 2009. He kindly stayed on to assist while planning for the new site proceeded, making his last modification in August 2011, a time period of almost 15 years, The AGTV is most grateful to Andrew for his unfailing support of German in this role, and for his work as web manager of the NATG website AusDaF until 2018..

The first AGTV website was originally housed on the Trinity Grammar School server, where Andrew was a teacher. It was later moved to a commercial server.

The Victorian government provided seeding grants to language associations and an additional website - Germanlinx (and Careerslinx) - was developed by Christine EkinSmyth, Andrew Ferguson, Richelle Hollis and Dave Nutting for the LOTELINX project. Dave Nutting continued to manage the website for several years on behalf of the AGTV. This website has been closed.

Development of our this Website

Discussions and planning for a new website began in 2005, but the concept for the site was only competed in 2009. Catherine Gosling, Christine EkinSmyth and Michael Atkinson were trained in the CMS in February 2011, and work began in earnest to populate the website with content. Many links were gleaned from AGTV Newsletters forwarded electronically to Networks in the past few years.

The web design is by Studio Ink, who also assisted with fine tuning elements of the website and uploading photos. Most of the photos were supplied by teachers, some from our archives, and only a few stock photos needing to be purchased. Photos on the website launched in 2011 were taken or supplied by teachers: Catherine Gosling, Christine EkinSmyth, Tina Wilkinson, Clare Fleming, Belinda Flint, Liz Ray, Sophie Henry, Kim Black, Dave Nutting, and Helga Mitterhumer, a former Kultur und Sprache presenter from Salzburg in Austria.

The new website was officially launched at the Victorian State Conference in September 2011.


The concept behind the website is to be a portal for teachers, students and a world wide public. The webiste aims to:

  • inform visitors about the services provided by the AGTV and the comprehensive support for German
  • be a portal to other websites and minimise the workload for the Committee
  • provide resources for all teachers and learners of German
  • promote a contemporary view of German-speaking communities
  • highlight the opportunities for German in Australia and beyond
  • promote the learning of languages and cultures in Australia, and
  • be sustainable over time

Goethe-Institut Australia have generously funded a postcard to promote the website to teachers and the wider community throughout Australia, as the vast majority of content is relevant for an Australian audience.

Sustainability for the Future

This new website streamlines the information and support for teachers and students provided online. It will still link to Germanlinx for some time until some of the material is incorporated into the new or other sites.

The new website is designed with sustainability in mind and the fact that the AGTV is a volunteer organisation with limited financial and human resources to manage websites in addition to the other services we provide.

The site required minimal updating and links to other sites updated by others to ensure the currency of information.

Further developments of the website will be made when time, resources and expertise become available.

AGTV Companion Website - Wild Apricot

In 2013, the AGTV began using a secure online member management system to streamline our administration, including online registration for events, online payments, and to provide online communities. This website greatly reduces the burden of administration on our volunteer Committee and allows remote access by geographically dispersed Committee. It has the potential for members to remotely interact with the AGTV in a secure online environment. The demand for this service is not yet apparent. This website was created by Catherine Gosling.


From time to time, the Committee has videos to share with others including videos made by students for the German Days Out at the Melbourne Town Hall, student entries in competitions, videos made by teachers, and videos made by the Committee. This site was created by Catherine Gosling in 2013.


Recipients of AGTV Life Membership

In alphabetical order -

Gerhard Boettcher       

Eva Conway                 

Andrew Ferguson

Doris Frank           

Judy Hajdu

Heinz Hildel

Rolf Klieme                  

Brigitte Remmen         

Pat Ritter                            

Henrietta Roberts

Eva Schulz

Resi Schwarzbauer                 

Heather Stock              

Volkmar Sturm                   

Immi Waechter

Rod Wilson

Veronica Wood                 

Karin Zilko




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