Barbara van Ernst (Cooke)

Born 19 February 1941. Attended Camberwell High School 1953-1957

Barbara van Ernst, music educator and municipal councillor, came to Camberwell from Surrey Hills State School. After leaving Camberwell High School she completed a Trained Primary Teachers’ Certificate (TPTC) at Burwood Teachers’ College (1958-9). Whilst teaching in state primary schools (1960-6) and state secondary schools (1967-72) she completed a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education at Monash University. In the first year of her BA she won the Ernest Morawetz Prize for the top student in Music and the prize for the best first year student in German.

In 1973 Barbara was appointed Lecturer in Music at Toorak Teachers’ College. She completed a Master of Education at LaTrobe University in 1984 and, since 1986, has been Principal Lecturer and Head of the Department of Music at Victoria College. Her professional involvements have included a year as President of the Staff Association (1983) and two years (1984-5) as State Vice-President of the Council of Academic Staff Association (CASA).

As a music educator Barbara has contributed to the development of the field in a number of ways. Apart from adjudicating many musical competitions in schools, she has also been a member of a number of advisory committees on Music and the Arts for the Ministry of Education. She was foundation President of the Association of Music Education Lecturers (AMEL) and then National Secretary and Victorian State President of the Australian Society for Music Education (ASME). A number of her papers, given at both national and international conferences on music education, have also been published.

Alongside her music education commitments Barbara has been very active in civic life. As an honorary Probation Officer with the Department of Community Services she undertook important work with young adult offenders. She is perhaps best known for her membership of the Hawthorn City Council for the past eight years (1984-91). Barbara was Mayor of Hawthorn in 1988-9 and appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1988. During her year in office as Mayor she was responsible for overseeing the restructuring of the management of the City of Hawthorn. She has also chaired the two major Hawthorn City Council standing committees (Finance and Town Planning, and Community Services) and currently chairs the important Steering Committee of the Camberwell Junction Planning Committee, which is responsible for the development of a structure plan for the junction.