markerschoolThis was the first marker to be launched in Central Springvale. It was unveiled by Cr. Sean O'Reilly who was also the School President at the time. The Mayor, Cr Sean O’Reilly unveiled the marker at this site on Sunday, August 2nd, 2015. Juan Santa Isabel, who trialled the program, was a special guest among a large number of people formerly and currently involved with the school.


This occasion has great historical significance for education, for multiculturalism, for our children. The marker we are to unveil today acknowledges the creative, innovative work which led to the establishment of the Victorian Ethnic Teacher’s program, now the Multicultural Teacher’s Aide program. Started by one man with the support of one organisation this program now employs more than 400 Aides. Central to this work was Juan Santa Isobel who worked at the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau. We are delighted to have him and his family with us today. We have received an apology from Jenny Briggs who was the settlement worker who supervised the project

When Juan started to work with the Springvale Primary School there were no ethnic aides to help communication, and very little recognition of cultural differences. Tony Medina’s story which you received with your invitation shows just how difficult it was for teachers, parents and, most importantly, the children

At this school Juan changed all that. He was present when any new students were enrolled, he changed the way parent/teacher meetings were organised, he taught the teachers simple Spanish, he demonstrated the difference between our system of learning and that used in countries of origin.

While we look to the future what can we learn from the past? The Ethnic Teacher’s Aide pilot proved that great things can happen when we work collaborative together recognising the strength of all participants. It proves in the words of the singer Paul Kelly, from ‘little things big grow’. It proves that if one person has a creative idea they should be supported to develop it. Sometimes I think we have lost the capacity to ‘take risks and have a go’ ’and opportunities to achieve the great outcomes such as this one are lost. May his and other stories from the Enterprise Trail renew our energy and creativity.

The Text on the Marker

Welcome to the site of the first Ethnic Teachers Aide Program in Victoria.

Pioneered at this primary school in the late 1970’s,the innovative program was developed by Juan Santa Isabel, a Spanish speaking Student Welfare Officer at the Springvale Community Aid and Advice Bureau.

Having previously surveyed Italian and Yugoslav families in the area, Juan understood how difficult school was for migrant children who were new to Australia. In response Juan pioneered new methods to support both the students and their parents, most of whom lived at the Enterprise Migrant Hostel in Springvale

He assisted newly arrived Spanish speaking families at the school to enrol the children. He ran a basic Spanish language course for teaching staff. He helped teachers understand cultural differences in teaching methods. He implemented weekend based parent-teacher interviews – making it much easier for the hard working parents to attend

The extraordinary success of his innovative methods motivated the Victorian Government to develop the ‘Ethnic Teachers Aides in School Program’. The successful program was gradually introduced into all appropriate schools in Victoria – and is now known as the Multicultural Education Aide Program. Over 400 Victorian government schools employed Multicultural Education Aides by 2014

This site recognises Springvale as a forerunnerin developing innovative settlement services, and acknowledges the important contribution that Springvale has made to the settlement of migrants and refugees from all over the world. Springvale, to this day, is testament to how innovative thinking, positive attitudes and a warm welcome can build strong, cohesive and vibrant