1996 BH Neumann Awards

The 1996 BH Neumann Awardees were Peter O’Halloran, David Clark, Judith Downes, Josephine Edwards, Neville Grace, David Pederson, Robin Thornely and Giovanna Vardaro. The available citations follow.

Judith Downes

[Judith Downes]

Judith Downes receives her BH Neumann Award from Professor Neumann at a function at the Riverwalk Hotel in Melbourne on 08 December 1996.


Tonight’s award, to Judith Downes, honours a very unique contribution to the advancement of mathematical enrichment in Australia.

This comes in two parts. First was a hands-on role in developing enrichment classes in Victoria. After having, as I am told, achieved one of the highest 1st Class Honours in Mathematics ever at Monash University she played a major part in developing enrichment classes for Victorian high school students (ie: students wishing to extend their mathematical knowledge).

She became associated with the Australian Mathematical Olympiad Committee, and while the record books show that she was not quite the first Victorian State Director, she took over in 1983 and really established the Victorian System as we know it, staying until 1988.

By this time she was changing career, to one of Accountancy. But she was not finished in her contribution. In 1991 she became treasurer of AMOC, playing a dominant role in establishing AMOC’s survival during later times when such funding ceased.

It was at this time that various forces suggested the value in merging AMOC with the AMF (which runs the AMC) to form the Australian Mathematics Trust.

The negotiations, as they always are in such mergers, were extremely difficult. Judith (with Prof Preston) was one of AMOC’s two negotiators and ensured that AMOC had equal status within the newly merged entity.

I might add that these negotiations led to a complicated structure, but the fact that there has been only one minor amendment to a complicated Trust Deed shows that the job was indeed well done.

Judith was able to stay on for a few more years to ensure that the Trust was on a strong footing.

Peter Taylor
08 December 1996

Neville Grace

[Neville bhn]

Neville Grace receiving his BH Neumann Award from Professor Neumann at a function at the Quay West Hotel, Brisbane, Wednesday 2 October 1996.

[Neville bhn]

Neville with his family (Marie third from left) after the presentation.


Neville is well known within the Australian Mathematics Trust, having been State Director of the AMC for Queensland for about 11 years. But he also has a strong background in the teaching of mathematics on a state, national and more recently international basis.

He had an unusual beginning for a mathematician, having originally been self-employed in the Hotel business for over 10 years up to 1970. He then graduated with a B Ec at the University of Queensland, with a mathematics component and then a Dip Ed (Economics and mathematics at the same university.

From then Neville was a teacher at Richlands State High School and since 1980 he has been the Senior Education Officer (Maths) in the Queensland Department of Education. Since then he also completed a M Ed St at the University of Queensland, specialising in mathematical education.

He has written during that time teacher resource books covering the whole range of year levels through primary and secondary schools and was the Queensland project officer involved in the trial and provision of advice to writers of the national mathematics statement and profile for mathematics.

Neville was also joint author, with Kevin Olssen of Adelaide and others, of a support book “Using the National Mathematics Profile” for the Curriculum corporation. He was also Project Officer responsible for the development and trial of Queensland “Student Performance Standards” (based on the national profile) and for a suite of projects to develop and produce a professional kit and variety of support materials for teachers across Years 4 to 8.

In the professional societies, Neville has been most active. He was President for one term of QAMT, on its executive for ten years, Business Manager of “Australian Mathematics Teacher” and since 1988 member of the editorial panel for the QAMT journal “Teaching Mathematics”.

Recently, Neville has awarded the high honour of Life membership of QAMT to match his award from the Trust.

Most recently Neville has been an international consultant, with six visits to Tonga with the Australian Aid funded Tonga Education Project and he is about to start with the PROBE project in Manila.

To go with this we must point out that Neville has a great sense of humour and is most approachable and helpful when working with his colleagues.

This is an outstanding record of public service to mathematics education and our congratulations go to Neville for this appropriate recognition.

Peter Taylor
02 October 1996

Giovanna Vardaro

[Giovanna Vardaro]

Peter Taylor, Executive Director of the Australian Mathematics Trust, Giovanna Vardaro and Professor Bernhard Neumann, after Giovanna was presented with her award by Professor Neumann in Adelaide, 23 February 1996.


Giovanna Vardaro is an outstanding example of a Bernhard Neumann Award recipient. For example, she

  • has been the State Director (for South Australia) of the Australian Mathematics Competition since 1985. This involves a lot of coordination work, dealing with problems within the state, checking the credentials of the leading scorers and liaison with the Australian Mathematical Olympiad Committee.
  • has, since its inception, been a member of the committee for the Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians, including its Enrichment Program. This committee is meeting here and involves a great degree of work constructing and refining problems outside of committee meetings and then through several weekend meetings each year.
  • has provided an outstanding inspiration and role-model as a teachers. This has been recognised elsewhere, e.g. the 1994 Satisfac Teacher Excellence Award as an outstanding teacher in South Australia.
  • has presented a number of papers at national and international conferences, both in Australia and overseas, on mathematical education.
  • as a member of the committee of MASA, has prepared student newsletters and organised maths activities such as the Jubilee 150 Maths Trail and Student Workshops.

I have a particular interest in this presentation. My grandmother was a student at Giovanna’s school when it was known as Methodist Ladies College. In 1904 she won the school prize for Maths (Algebra and Euclid) which I have here tonight. She also won other prizes, including German.

I now have pleasure in handing over to Bernhard to present this Award.

Peter Taylor
23 February 1996