Australian Maths Trust


The 1997 BH Neumann Awardees were Kevin Friel, David Paget and Allen Russell. They were presented with their awards at separate ceremonies and their citations follow.

Allen Russell is an outstanding example of a Bernhard Neumann Award recipient, with most of his activities external to the Trust.

His main contribution has been in the running of the Victorian IBM Competition over a period of 25 years. This competition attracts all the most talented students in the state and asks the students to solve a number of problems at a very advanced level.

In 1972 he commenced this work in a supporting role with Derek Holton and John Rickard. Derek is now the leading figure in what we call mathematics enrichment in New Zealand. John is now Dean of Monash’s Faculty of Business and Economics. He gradually took over running the whole competition after Derek and John had each taken periods of leave, John left at the time for an appointment at Griffith University and Derek went to New Zealand.

Since Allen took over as principal organiser he has expanded the competition, which now runs in three rather than two divisions.

The competition is the largest state-wide competition in Australia and attracts about 4,500 entries from about 130 secondary schools in the state.

Many of the winners have gone on to represent Australia in the International Mathematics Olympiad and become medal winners.

Running this competition involves each year hundreds of hours’ work each year on a voluntary basis, selecting the problems, inviting entries, processing entries assessing the many scripts, notifying prize-winners, preparation of certificates and running an annual prize-giving function. The time scale of one competition tends to stretch over the full year.

Allen has participated in other events and for a number of years ran enrichment classes in the August school holidays, and has taken a role in the Victorian part of the Australian Mathematical Olympiad Program. He also went to Canberra in 1988 to help in the running of the International Mathematical Olympiad when it was held there.

He has also been a member of the Board of Examiners for the Victorian Year 12 Pure Mathematics over a period of some 26 years.

Peter Taylor
15 October 1997

Tonight’s award, to David Paget, honours a very unique contribution to the enrichment of mathematical education in Australia.

He was the mainstay of the Olympiads in Tasmania and State Director for 8 years, 1988 to 1995.

He worked on many fronts tapping emerging talents throughout Tasmania. To a large extent this was single-handed, without him there would have been no Tasmanian activity or representation.

He ran the Friday night groups, arranging for students in the north of the state access. He looked after all the student needs, including pastoral needs, often handling problems via parents. He even helped put on the student’s ties (when they were not used to the culture).

He developed a very strong group. Hobart on two occasions had the strongest Australian or New Zealand score in the International Mathematics Tournament of Towns. Two members of these groups, including one from a remote location 80km west of Launceston, gained Australian selection at IMO, winning silver medals.

David was also active in promoting mathematics in general, organising camps for a wide number of students and obtaining sponsorship.

David soon became active on the national scene. In 1990 he became AMOC Director of Training, a position he held for six years. He developed and professionalised the position to the point at which it became one of AMOC’s three substantive senior positions. He followed on a personal basis the fortunes of the elite students throughout Australia and coordinating their attendance at training schools.

He was Deputy Leader of the Australian Team in 1990 and Team Leader in 1991, through to 1995.

He also took on administrative roles in the Trust, becoming an alternative member of the Trust’s Board and a Director of AMTOS Pty Limited, the company which administers the Trust’s activities.

There are many areas in which David has contributed to mathematics outside the Trust and on which I cannot comment so well.

But I would like to conclude (and I have just attended the Australian Applied Mathematics Conference in Victoria) that mathematicians throughout Australia have admired David’s singular courage and strength in fighting off two serious diseases during 1996.

David has three strengths which have served him well, a supporting family and colleagues, a strong faith and a physical toughness no doubt honed by his earlier years as a first grade rugby player (I believe he was even born near Twickenham). We wish him well in continuing this battle and being able to focus again on his career at the University of Tasmania.

Peter Taylor
06 February 1997

Kevin Friel was born at Innisfail, Queensland. His first teaching appointment was at Bondi Beach in 1950. His qualifications include BA (University of Queensland) 1959, MA (University of Sydney) 1968 and Dip Ed Admin (University of New England) 1969.

From about 1960 until 1989 he was a member of the NSW HSC syllabus committee.

In the early 1960s, he helped in Catholic schools, in a supervisory role with primary schools’ final marking.

During the late 1960s, he set trial examinations for all Catholic schools’ HSC mathematics courses.

For about 5 years in the late 1960s, he was involved in setting NSW School Certificate mathematics examinations. He was also one of the supervisors for marking at the Showground.

From 1960 to 1969 he gave several lectures ranging from 1 to 4 hours at country venues ranging from Lismore to the Riverina, and many venues in Sydney. These lectures were heavily oriented to mathematics, but some were in Physics.

In the late 1970s and 1980s, he became involved in the NSW Olympiad to select the top 20 NSW students to attend the National Summer School in Canberra. For some time, he actually set the written exam, which he then also marked. He also marked the take-home question and attended final selection meetings with Geoff Ball (Convenor) and the late Jim Williams. Over the years he has occasionally visited other schools and given a lecture on a topic to a 4-unit HSC class. He has also given tuition to several teachers over the years.

He was always interested in the possibility of a national competition such as the AMC and became aware of the competition organised by Peter O’Halloran in 1976.

In 1977 he became aware of the pilot program for an AMC and he enabled Parramatta Marist High School to be one of the schools, acting as its competition manager.

In the early 1980s, he became a moderator for the AMC Problems Committee. In 1986, he became a member of the AMC Problems Committee and has continued as one of its most valuable and productive contributing members.

Since the introduction of the Mathematics Challenge for Young Australians, he has also been one of its moderators.

In conclusion, Br Friel has a long and distinguished career as a mathematics educator in this country. His knowledge and dedication during his career have been second to none and he is a worthy and outstanding holder of the BH Neumann Award.

Peter Taylor
24 May 1997