What We Do

Our members help people who want to develop their speaking voice to its full potential for clear, effective and interesting communication.

It is largely through speaking that we all share thoughts and feelings, both our own, and those of others. Through speaking we can inspire, explain, teach, and move others. The quality and flexibility of our speaking voice to a large extent determines the way others perceive us, and therefore the way we make our way in the world.

Some of our students are children, whose parents see that they need to develop confidence in their interactions with others. Some are young people who hope to make a career with their voice – through acting, radio or television, or, for example, in a courtroom. Some are already actors who seek to hone their vocal and dramatic skills to a higher level. And some are adults who know they would do their work more effectively if they were confident and skilled at public speaking.

Some of our members teach in schools, while others work from private studios, and a number do both. Some of our members take groups of students for drama and voice, while others prefer to work one on one. Most do a variety of teaching, always tailored to the needs of the students.

Many of us put students through public examination systems in Drama and Performance, or Voice and Communication, as a means of reaching for the highest standards. Some students also like to compete at regional festivals of drama and public speaking.

All our members have a love for the beauty and possibilities of the speaking voice, and are skilled and qualified in training it.

President’s Profile

Deb Mitchell, has been part of the Perth College COMMUNITY on and off for over 20 years. She is currently the Speech and Drama Co-ordinator and Teacher of students in Years 7 to 12.

Deb has been a teacher of Speech and Drama within the school system and corporate sector for 30 years. She holds a BA (Training & Development) and Speech & Drama Teacher qualifications – A.S.D.A. Deb is passionate about providing students and adults with communication and drama skills to develop competence and confidence within a range of performance settings.


Speech and Drama has been a solid foundation upon which Deb has developed a varied and unique skill set that has helped her fill a diverse range of roles in her working life.

Deb believes that Speech and Drama transformed her from a shy child to an accomplished woman. The skills and benefits acquired from Speech and Drama have helped Deb enjoy some unique personal and professional life experiences. She is passionate about helping people of all ages develop confidence, resilience and discover the joy of the spoken word.

Council List

Deb Mitchell – President
M: 0408 195 844
E: deborahlmi@optusnet.com.au
Chelsea Crowe – Vice President
M: 0400 237 074
E: chelsea.crowe@pc.wa.edu.au
Maureena Lockyer-Benzie – Secretary
M: 0457 471 788
E: marina@iinet.net.au
Karen Goddard – Council
T: 9368 2303
Lea Logie – Council
: 0407 500 126
E: llogie@bigpond.net.au
Julia Heptinstall – Council
M: 0439 623 548
E: rjhep@hotmail.com
Chris Lovering – Council
T: 9336 2275 E: balcon@tpg.com.au
Simon Meiri – Council
M: 0415 035 313
E: somemoreofthesame@gmail.com
Andie Holborn – Council
: 9341 6430 M: 0403 533 287
E: andie@expressiondrama.com.au
Angie Maher – Treasurer
M: 0417 911 617
Vocal News Editor –
Adrienne Patterson E: adrienne.patterson@outlook.com



The Speech and Drama Teachers’ Association of Western Australia, as it is currently known, is one of the oldest professional teaching associations in Western Australia. The Association has experienced a rather fascinating history which epitomises the passion and dedication of those foundation members to the subject of Speech and Drama.

This information is based on a small booklet which contains a potted history of the Association and it has been dedicated to the memory of the late Mrs.E.M.McRostie who was the foundation president. Included in this history are additional sections by Anita LeTessier where the names of teachers and supporters after the foundation of the Association are listed. This is followed by an outline of the history of the Association from 1977- 1986 written by Honor.L.Nottage, who was President of the Association from 1977-1983. The author of the documented early history is not identified; however it could have been Honor L. Nottage.

The original term used for Speech and Drama was Elocution. In 1927, the Association was founded and it was originally known as the W.A. Elocution Teachers Association, the first of its kind in Australia. Later the name was changed to Speech Teachers Association of W.A. It became an incorporated body on the 20 November 1952.

Music had flourished in those early years and had at the time a very well established incorporated body with some fine musicians. During this time, a number of teachers, students and interested parents were stirring the community to promote the cause of speech, recognising the growing educational value of the subject. This was a period of trial and error and advice was required on text books and variation of texts. A VOICE was needed that could carry its message to those in authority – some united body was imperative to make an effective impact. From this the Elocution Teachers of Perth formed an Association which was to prove invaluable to the profession.

The examining body, Trinity College of London, was very popular with music students and teachers, and later elocution was included with its own specific syllabus. Examiners, as they continue to do so today, were sent twice yearly from London to Australia for examination purposes. Dr C Edgar Ford, who was well known for his musicianship as well as being an outstanding man of literature and letters, became one of the first examiners of Speech and Drama.

An Annual Elocution Competition was established and adjudicators from the Eastern States were engaged for this purpose. Some of those judges included: Messrs James Anderson, Trotmann, Montgomery Stewart, Douglas Caddy and Frank Johnston.

The foundation members of the WA. Elocution Teachers Association (Inc) were – Mrs E.McRostie (inaugural President), Mrs Hugh Torrance, Mr Hugh Torrance, Mrs F. Henderson, Miss Mary Gibbons, Miss Dorothy Mark, Miss Celia Kildea, Miss Mamie Eva, Miss Lily Kavanagh, Miss Pops Knipe, Miss Bessie Dulacher, Sister M. Coleman (convent of Mercy Victoria Square) and Anita Fitzgerald (Le Tessier). We pay tribute to this group of dedicated teachers without whose vision and drive the Association would not be where it is today.

The Australian Music Examinations Board had been holding examinations in all branches of music in all states for some years. In 1918 AMEB (WA) was established to provide music examinations. It was about 1920 that the Board introduced Elocution, or as it later became known as, Art of Speech. Over time entrants increased and special examiners were appointed and the AMEB grew in popularity. The Association was indebted to Professor A.D. Ross who was for many years chairman of the AMEB in Perth. Professor Ross urged members of the Board to consider the inclusion of Speech in the Examinations syllabus.

One of the movements of the newly formed association was to approach the Public Examinations Board of the University of Western Australia with a request that Speech be put on the same footing as Music and Art, making it a subject for the Junior and Leaving Examinations. This was accomplished at this time in Queensland and Tasmania only. It was through persuasion of the ‘powers that be’ that the movement was ultimately sanctioned and speech formed part of the Junior and Leaving examinations in W.A.

Apart from examinations, the association was involved and associated with numerous activities such as Teacher’s Recitals, plays, Repertory Club, Concert Arts and other kindred societies.

Miss Murial Bird’s studio in St George’s Terrace was generously used for many occasions as informal talks, social events and post examiners’ meetings. One such gathering was most profitable to the association when Mr Alexander Watson (Examiner; Elocution, Trinity College, London) gave a recital in the Karrakatta Hall and the proceeds were presented to the association for the purchase of a library.

Mr John Le Tessier selected the collection of resources and the first home of this library was in a room in Forrest chambers, St Georges Terrace. Dr. C. Edgar Ford, a great supporter of speech and drama, performed the official opening of the library. Later the library was moved to the basement of the West Australian Chambers and during the war years it was moved again to Miss Muriel Bird’s studio which was located in the same building as West Australian Chambers. Mrs Joyce Tate took over Miss Bird’s studio and later transferred her teaching studio to Forrest Place and the Watson Library went with her.

Later venues for STAWA meetings included the Women’s Services Guild in Harvest Terrace, West Perth in the 1970s, and Drabble House, Nedlands in the 1980s. Presently, meetings are held at Wesley College, South Perth.

Presidents in the latter years have been Miss.M.Bird, Mrs LeTessier, Mrs Bulbeck, Mrs Nottage, Mrs Clarke, Nancy Facius, Marilyn Bodycoat, Karen Goddard and currently Dr Lea Logie.

Today the Speech Teachers Association of WA Speech & Drama is very active under the leadership of the current President, Dr Lea Logie, Vice President, Andie Holborn and eight (8 ) Council members.

In 1997 STAWA organized the inaugural Perth Speech and Drama Festival for its members and their students at Collier Primary School, Como. The Festival is still conducted and provides the opportunity for students to perform, at varying levels, works of prose, poetry and drama as well as public speaking and storytelling. In 2006 the AMEB became co-presenters and sponsors of the Festival.

The Speech Teachers Association of WA also provides the STAWA prize for the best Diploma Candidate which is presented at the annual AMEB Award Ceremony and Diploma presentation.

The Association produces a quarterly journal titled Vocal News. This journal offers a diverse range of articles associated with Speech and Drama, including information about forthcoming professional development workshops for teachers and students.

There is always one representative of the Association on the AMEB Board as part of the Advisory Committee on syllabus and other educational matters. The present STAWA representative is Dr Lea Logie and Karen Goddard is the Chairman, Professor Darryl Poulson’s speech representative. These representatives continue to forge the link established with the AMEB in those early years.

The horizons of the Association in the 21 Century have expanded. Emphasis has been placed on the importance of communication both interpersonal and within the business and education spheres. Due to this expansion the Association will embrace a new target audience with a demand for services with a difference.

Without the drive, vision, passion and leadership of those founding association members of Speech and Drama, the achievements of today could not have been realized. It is important to acknowledge and pay tribute to those inaugural members and their initiatives which established the path to the future.

“To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

– Ulysses, Alfred Lord Tennyson (1833)

© 2012 Speech and Drama Teachers' Association of WA. All rights reserved.