Graham Morris

Born 30 September 1941. Attended Camberwell High School 1956-1959

Graham Morris, public sector manager, came to Camberwell High from Coburg High School. He matriculated in 1959 in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. Graham was actively involved in school life as form captain (1958), prefect and Prospice Committee member (1959). An active oarsman, he rowed in the winning 1st VIII crew in the 1958 High Schools’ Head of the River Regatta on the Yarra River. In 1959, in which year Camberwell High School was again Head of the River, and in which it also won the 2nd and 3rd VIII races, Graham stroked the successful 2nd VIII crew.

Doubtless because of his rowing, Prospice (1959) noted that Graham’s theme song was ‘Cruising down the river’: his ambition was said to be ‘Maths teacher’. However, following an indifferent university year in 1960, Graham trained as a primary teacher at Burwood Teachers’ College. Almost immediately he was seconded to teach mathematics and science at Box Hill Technical School. He then completed a Bachelor of Science degree at Melbourne University, majoring in Biology, and later a Bachelor of Education.

His career changed permanently in 1970 when he was seconded by the Education Department of Victoria to begin an education service for schools at the Melbourne Zoological Gardens. Graham calls this the beginning of ‘a love affair with zoos and museums that has continued ever since’. The Zoo Education Service became recognised as the best and most successful in the world of zoos and museums and its innovative and effective programs attracted international acclaim.

Graham’s next appointment was as the Director of the Currumbin Sanctuary on the Queensland Gold Coast in 1979. After two years of intensive redevelopment work there, he was invited to become Assistant Director of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority in Townsville. Between 1981-4 Graham established a unique community information and education program which became a model for similar organisations throughout the world. The Authority was successful in setting up a protection program for the world heritage listed Great Barrier Reef by implementing a self-management system derived from widespread education programs.

In 1984, Graham was invited back to Victoria to be Director of the Healesville Sanctuary, a property managed by the Zoological Board of Victoria. Over the next four years the Sanctuary was completely redeveloped and regained its position as Australia’s leading fauna park. In this period, Graham also became Director of Planning for the Zoological Board. He developed master plans for the Board’s two other properties, Melbourne Zoo and the Werribee Park Zoo.

In 1988 Graham was approached to manage the extensive Waterways and Parks Division of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW). The division is responsible for the MMBW’s superb metropolitan park system (including Werribee, Jells, Westerfolds and Brimbank Parks), for Melbourne’s main drainage system and for the management of the Yarra and Maribyrnong Rivers. When he was appointed as Regional Manager with the MMBW, Graham was the first non-engineer senior executive of the board’s regional operations. Finally, in 1990, Graham was appointed as Director of the Museum of Victoria where he is responsible for the Museum’s extensive redevelopment program. A new science and technology museum (‘Scienceworks’) will open in early 1992, and planning has been completed for a major new museum complex on South bank, costing $250 million.

Graham Morris is a member of the Zoological Board of Victoria, the Council of the Council of Adult Education, the Museum Advisory Board, the Trust of the Museum of Chinese Australian History and the Commonwealth Government’s National Cultural Heritage Committee and is a member or chair of a number of education and other committees. He developed an interest in music at Camberwell High School and, for about fifteen years, played the drums in various jazz bands.

Viewed in retrospect, Graham’s contribution to the management of public resources is a long way from the affirmative case he once took with two other Camberwell High pupils in Channel 7’s ‘Parliament of Youth’: that ‘Science has been of more harm than benefit to mankind’ (Prospice, 1959).