From little things, big things grow …

Pre-History of the AGTV 

Teachers of German worked on a sub-committee of the Modern Language Teachers Association of Victoria (MLTAV) before the decision to form the Association of German Teachers of Victoria (AGTV). The first meeting was held in 1979.

Heather Stock chaired the meeting as a final duty before going on an International Teaching Fellowship to Germany. Heather recalled the background and circumstances in which the idea for a single language association for German was formed in an article printed in SZENE in 2009.

Foundation of the AGTV in 1979

According to the minutes, the first Committee was elected at the first Annual General Meeting on 24th April 1979. Its Office Bearers were elected by the Committee at the first Committee Meeting on 7th May 1979.

The AGTV was incorporated in 1992, an initiative of the then President, Andrew Ferguson.

Early activities of the Committee included: Publication of SZENE, annual weekend conferences (many at Erskine House in Lorne), workshops for teachers, sponsorship of SAGSE scholarships, Year 10 Immersion Camps at Olinda (before there were so many partner-schools), Bunter Nachmittag programs for Year 9 students, Year 12 Days, German Film Days, AGTV-BJR Exchange from 1988, and occasional cultural programs e.g. Goethe Abend, private viewings at the NGV International.

The AGTV worked in close collaboration with the Goethe-Institut. The Goethe-Institut supported the publication of SZENE from its first issue. Events were often jointly funded such as the German Day Out at the Melbourne Town Hall, Victorian State Conference and annual School Film Festivals. The relationship has evolved over time in response to changing circumstances.

Presidents of the AGTV since 1979

Milena Pallaghy, Eva Conway, Rod Wilson, Sally Happell, Andrew Ferguson, Catherine Gosling

The AGTV has developed several websites, a history of which is on a separate page. See:

History of AGTV online

History of SZENE

Each AGTV membership includes a complimentary subscription to SZENE.

In May 1981, the first edition of the AGTV journal SZENE was published in time for sale at the MLTAV Congress. The first editor being Rolf Klieme from the Goethe-Institut in Melbourne. In the first year, there were 5 issues, the fifth printed in 1982. In the first issue, there was an article about the linguistic differences between Austria, Germany and Switzerland. The use of German in DACHL has always been a focus of the AGTV.

There were four different covers, the last reflecting its status as a national journal. When SZENE became an annual journal in 2016, the cover of SZENE has changed each year. Since SZENE became an annual publication in 2016, there is a different cover each year. From 2021, the Committee has engaged Toekos Poetz Design to design the layout.

SZENE continues to be published by the AGTV who contract the services of an Editor. It is produced in cooperation with the NATG and the support of the Goethe-Institut.

Fun Facts about SZENE

  • SZENE had its first email address in 1999.
  • SZENE has always been posted to teachers throughout Australia, and in 1987 there were Convenors for SZENE in SA, ACT, NSW, QLD, TAS and WA.
  • In 1993, the South Australian German Teachers Association (SAGTA) included a subscription to SZENE in their annual membership.
  • The Network of Australian Teachers of German (NATG) endorsed SZENE as the national journal for German teachers in Australia.

Editors of SZENE: Rolf Klieme, Fred Dobberstein, Rod Wilson, Immi Waechter, Ruth Brass, Brigitte Remmen, Volker Wolf, Martina Stobart, Elsa Viertmann, Cheryl St George, Christine EkinSmyth, Maja Herr and the current Editor Karin Taeubner.

History of the AGTV-BJR Exchange

Immi Waechter from the Goethe-Institut in Melbourne met Gerhard Böttcher from the Bayerischer Jugendring (BJR) in 1987 to discuss the possibility of a reciprocal student exchange program with Bavaria. The AGTV welcomed the opportunity and in 1988, Ellen Dunn coordinated the first exchange.

Gerhard Böttcher was the BJR contact in Bavaria from its initiation in 1988 until his retirement in 2014. Gerhard was made a Life Member of the AGTV to reflect the importance and success of the program in Victoria. This was presented to Gerhard at the 20-year anniversary of the exchange celebrated through a gala dinner at the MCG on the 23 February in 2008. Gerhard retired in 2014.

BJR Contacts in Munich since 1988

  • Gerhard Böttcher – Awarded Life Membership in 2008
  • Thomas Angermeier – 2014
  • Matthias Flakowski

Celebrations of Anniversaries

20th Anniversary Celebration at the MCG in 2008

  • Photo of BJR Coordinators – with Michael Schwarz and Gerhard Böttcher (BJR Munich) with Herr Kessler (Consul General) and Eva Schulz (Goethe-Institut).

25th Anniversary Celebration at the Grand Hyatt Melbourne in 2013

  • Photo of the 25th Anniversary Celebration – with BJR President Matthias Fack, the Hon. Nicholas Kotsiras, Victorian Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, and Mr Michael Pearce, Honorary Consul General of the FRG.

History written for the 30th Anniversary in 2018

Registration of the AGTV as a Registered Student Exchange Organisation

In 2010, the AGTV were successful in renewing its status as a Registered Exchange Organisation with the Victorian Registration and Qualifications Authority (VRQA), which is a credit to the professionalism of the of the exchange, the comprehensive support processes provided, and the work of successive coordinators in facilitating the exchange within government guidelines. Without this registration, government schools would not be able to accept students from this exchange. A significant fee has to be paid to the VRQA as well as payment for specific insurance for the program to comply with the criteria for registration and support for Group Leaders to travel to Germany with the students.

The AGTV is a non-profit incorporated association and the exchange continues to operate on a cost-recovery basis to ensure its financial viability and ongoing registration. Students from member schools pay a reduced administration fee to participate in the exchange.

Appointment of AGTV Coordinators of the BJR Exchange since 1988

1988 – Ellen Dunn
1989 – Eva Conway
1997 – Pauline Rogan
2000 – Heather Rae
2001 – Heather Rae & Catherine Gosling
2002 – Christine EkinSmyth
2018 – Brigitte Ankenbrand

The exchange was suspended in March 2020 during the pandemic until February 2023.

History of AGTV sponsoring SAGSE Scholarships

SAGSE originally stood for Society for Australian-German Student Exchange and is now known as Scholarships for Australian-German Student Exchange. This scholarship program was founded in 1967 and is a unique opportunity for students in Years 11 and 12 to spend an extended period living with a family in Germany.

Prior to the foundation of the AGTV in 1979, the MLTAV subcommittee for German funded a scholarship through SAGSE. The first AGTV scholarship was funded in 1979 and awarded to Catherine Gosling. The AGTV has funded a scholarship since 1979, two on the 50th Anniversary of the SAGSE exchange, and two in 2022.

For many years it was known as the Ruth Brass Memorial Scholarship and fundraising to support this was a major activity of the Committee.

A representative of the AGTV is invited to sit on the interview panel to select students.

The AGTV is indebted to the SAGSE Committee, GASS (returned student organisation) and all sponsors for their ongoing commitment to students learning German.

History of the AGTV Poetry Competition

The idea for a Victorian competition was brought to the Committee by Peter Richards, a teacher of German at St Pauls Anglican Grammar School in Gippsland. He had been running a competition with schools in Gippsland. The Committee believed the idea had merit and founded a competition for Years 8 and 9 in 1993. The first state competition was a one-day event at the Club Tivoli in Windsor. It was considered a success and in 1994, was extended to Years 5 and 6, and then to Year 7. Year 4 were invited to compete at Regional Finals in 2014.

The competition helped strengthen AGTV Networks when the introduction of Regional Finals was introduced for students to win to gain access to the State Final. The State Final has been held in the Austrian Club in Heidelberg for many years, where up to 350 students and families attend from across Victoria.

In 2022, the Committee decided to run two State Final days for Primary and Secondary students. Families continue to fill the Austrian Club on each day.

The original Perpetual State Final Shields for Years 5 to 9 were donated by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, University of Melbourne, La Trobe University, the Association of German-Speaking Communities and Monash University. The AGTV provided shields for Open sections when the DaF and Open categories were introduced.

AGTV Convenors of the AGTV Victorian Poetry Competition over the years (some multiple times): Christine EkinSmyth, Catherine Gosling, Ros Coffey, Tina Wilkinson, Maria McCluskey, Katherine Halpin, Liz Ray, Brigitte Ankenbrand, Helena Salles.

This competition has been a successful strategy to promote German in schools and to celebrate cooperation of teacher across Victoria. The competition is an exclusive opportunity for students from member schools.

History of AGTV Networks

The formal development of teacher networks in Victoria was a joint initiative of the AGTV, the Victorian Department of Education, the Goethe-Institut in Melbourne and the German Adviser at DET, Volkmar Sturm.

The AGTV received a seeding grant from the Department of Education in 1994 to further develop teacher Networks for German. Volkmar Sturm had visited most schools teaching German in country and metropolitan Victoria and could identify key people who could help motivate teachers to meet locally. The AGTV appointed a Network Coordinator – Christine EkinSmyth – to liaise with and find Network Leaders throughout Victoria. Christine had been a Consultant for German in the Wimmera Region. Key people were invited to a meeting in Melbourne to be presented with the idea of AGTV Networks. Some existing networks were agreed to come under the umbrella of the AGTV Networks, and other teachers agreed to initiate local teacher networks. The Committee endorsed local Network Leaders and for some years, ran annual AGTV Network Leader Conferences with the support of the Victorian Government and Goethe-Institut. There were initially 6 metropolitan and 6 country networks.

The founding of the AGTV Poetry Competition acted as a catalyst for the formation of AGTV Networks as teachers collaborated to provide this opportunity for their students.

Karin Bell from the then Barwon-South-West Network was appointed the next Network Coordinator before the Committee assumed responsibility for the Networks and Liz Ray assumed responsibility for Networks for some years.

Networking for teachers is an effective strategy to promote cooperative partnerships, to deliver professional learning programs to teachers to meet local needs, for sharing resources, for communicating with the AGTV membership and for the organisation of student activities within the Network and beyond. The AGTV model has been recognised by the Department of Education as an example of best practice over the years.

As the use of technology spread along with changing opportunities and demands on teachers, the role of networks changed. The Committee continue to endorse local AGTV Network Leaders across country and metropolitan Victoria as a local contact person and to assist in organising the AGTV Poetry Competition. Some country networks continue to collaborate to provide local opportunities for teachers and students.

AGTV Metropolitan Networks in 2022: NE Inner Metro, NE Outer Metro, NE Knox Metro, NE Monash, SE Bayside, SE Peninsula, North West Metro, South West Metro

AGTV Country Networks in 2022: Hume, Gippsland, Calder, Ballarat Goldfields, Geelong Western District, Wimmera Mallee

Additional Regional Finals are held for Community, VSL and Bilingual schools.


Victorian Government

The AGTV is grateful for grants from successive Victorian governments. These grants support our work; they are spent within government guidelines, and reported on each year. They have provided the AGTV to provide services including the formation of AGTV Networks, funding of the German Day Out and Conferences, supporting the development of materials and websites.


The Goethe-Institut has been a supportive partner of teachers of German since the first office in Australia was opened in Melbourne in 1972. Personnel from the Goethe-Institut were instrumental in assisting the first Committee in initiating services including a weekend conference, the AGTV journal SZENE, and in 1988, the AGTV-BJR Exchange program.

The Goethe-Institut’s first home was in the Hoechst building at 606 St Kilda Road Melbourne before the move to 448 St Kilda Road in 1999.

The premises at 606 St Kilda Road in Melbourne were offered for Committee meetings when the AGTV was founded in 1979 until a government facility was used. The Goethe-Institut offered the use of their premises at 448 St Kilda Road in the late 1990s when the Committee was looking for space to meet and met there until the end of 2016. The AGTV Goethe Boutique cabinet was housed at the premises at 448 St Kilda Road to showcase AGTV and GI promotional and curriculum materials for several years until the end of 2018.

For many years, the Goethe-Institut provided a German Adviser to support teachers. At one time, there were two advisers, one based at the Goethe-Insitut and one based at the Education Department.

Teachers worked with Language Advisers in to produce various resources such as the Botanic Garden Kit, NGV Art Gallery Kit, Immigration Museum Kit, Sport in Australien (Inter Nationes), often with funding support from the Victorian Government.

The Victorian Government continues to provide support to the Goethe-Institut to support teachers and students of German in Victorian government schools.

Many teachers have received scholarships to improve their language skills in language, cultural and teaching of German. Some scholarships are also offered to students. The annual Summer School immersion program was a highlight for many teachers in years past. The last summer school was held in January 2018.

The Goethe-Institut has often worked collaboratively with the AGTV to provide opportunities and services for teachers and students of German such as Annual Weekend Conferences, German Days Out at the Melbourne Town Hall and for a few years at Federation Square, GI School Film Festivals (AGTV sponsored prizes), and Goethe-Institut Resource Centres.

The AGTV awarded an Honorary Life Membership to Eva Schulz from the Goethe-Institut for the understanding and support she provided the AGTV since she began working at the Goethe-Institut in Melbourne in 1979 until her retirement in 2013.

Goethe-Institut Resource Centres

Teachers and students in AGTV Networks have had access to quality resources housed in Goethe-Institut Resource Centres since 1999. This idea was originally conceived through discussions at the former Victorian Joint-Standing Committee for German. This concept extended to the creation of GI Resource Centres across Australia.

The Goethe-Institut sign a Memorandum of Understanding with a school or library to house the resources and guarantee teachers and students of German free access to the materials. From time to time the resources are moved to different locations.

Victorian State Conferences

The Goethe-Institut and AGTV Committee facilitated state conferences (formerly weekend in-servces) for many years, usually with international, interstate and Victorian presenters. Some Victorian State conferences were combined with the Goethe-Institut National Conference for teachers of German.

Locations of conferences in Victoria have included: Warburton, Marysville, (many years in) Lorne, Ballarat, Merrijig, Geelong, Melbourne, Kilmore, Mount Eliza and various venues in Melbourne.

Since 2000, the AGTV has supported a presenter at Victorian and National Conferences sponsored by our partner Kultur und Sprache in Austria.

In 2019, the Committee of the AGTV organised the Victorian State Conference in Melbourne.

Kultur und Sprache in Austria

Judy Hajdu, a Life Member of the AGTV, initiated contact with Kultur und Sprache while in Vienna. The visit resulted in the Austrian government funding a keynote speaker to attend the GI/AGTV State Conferences with the support of the then Bundesministerium für Unterricht, Kunst und Kultur (BM:UKK).

The first speaker presented in Lorne in 2000 and Kultur und Sprache (KUS) have funded a speaker for state or national conferences for almost every year since.

Guests from Kultur und Sprache at Victorian or National Conferences: Barbara Huemer (Lorne), Thomas Fritz (Lorne). Roland Fischer (Merrijig), Dirk Lyon (Merrijig), Helga Längauer-Hohengassner (Ballarat), Hannes Schweiger (Geelong), Walter Thalhammer (Melbourne), Helga Mitterhumer (Geelong), Wolfgang Malik (Lancefield), Paul Rusch (Geelong), Wolfgang Gratzer (Melbourne), Vera Ahamer (Melbourne), Robert Bösiger (Mount Eliza), Valerie Bauernhof (Melbourne), Clemens Tonsern (Melbourne), Jürgen Ehrenmüller (Melbourne), Andreas Kurz (Melbourne), Sandra Reitbrecht (Melbourne), Catherine Carré-Karlinger (Melbourne).

Kultur und Sprache also offered the AGTV a scholarship to attend a seminar in Austria. Judy Hajdu was the first recipient and the following year the offer was made to the President Catherine Gosling. After that, the Committee resolved to offer a travel subsidy to support a member to participate. If an eligible Committee member cannot attend, then it is offered to a Network Leader, then to individual members as determined by the Committee.

Committee members who have been to Austria since 2000: Judy Hajdu, Catherine Gosling, Dave Nutting*, Phill Grant, Heike Mueller, Sarah Buckman, Michael Atkinson, Jaclyn Curnow, Liz Ray, Michael Foster, Brigitte Ankenbrand, Clare Fleming, Helena Salles, Kylie Wallace, Pauline Rogan, Felicity Woodward, Josephine Lloyd, Warren Pratt, and Madeleine Sim, who participated remotely during the pandemic.

* Dave Nutting produced a website with classroom materials on his return about Vorarlberg an der Bodensee, which was housed on Germanlinx.

Gertrud Hoellerbauer was our key contact from Kultur und Sprache until her retirement in 2011. Norbert Habelt was the contact for several years and the current contact is Astrid Postl.

Kultur und Sprache now offer online professional learning opportunities and share materials from their website.

NATG – National Cooperation

After many years of discussion, the Network of Australian Teachers of German (NATG) was founded in 2002 in Adelaide to support communication and cooperative partnerships between teachers of German from all states and territories in Australia.

Rainer Buhtz, the from Goethe-Institut Melbourne, arranged an informal meeting between the then Presidents of the AGTV – Catherine Gosling – and SAGTA – Michael Parfitt – to discuss how such a network might operate. The AGTV was instrumental in facilitating this collaboration by inviting representatives to our Network Leaders conference in Lorne in 2001, where a firm commitment was finally made by representative from other states and territories present. Michael Parfitt was the first Secretary of the NATG, a responsibility of the state or territory in which the next Annual Meeting is held.

The Goethe-Institut Australia funds an annual NATG meeting for representatives from other associations and networks from every state and territory in Australia, the AusDaF webmaster and the Editor of SZENE. The NATG representatives report on the situation for German in their region, share ideas and resources, and discuss ways of promoting national cooperation.

Early achievements of the NATG include support from the Goethe-Institut for the development of a website for the NATG known as AusDaF, a national email network on AusNet, and although always a national publication, the AGTV publication SZENE being officially endorsed as the National Journal for Teachers of German by the NATG and Goethe-Institut in 2003.

  • Lorne 2001 – Photo of AGTV Executive, NW Leaders, invited representatives from other states and territories, and Goethe-Institut personnel
  • AusDaF – Website of the NATG managed by the AGTV