History

The following is a history of the New South Wales branch of the S.S.P.A. taken from ‘Growing In Stature’ – a history of the S.S.P.A. from its humble beginnings in Port Macquarie, New South Wales in 1968 through to its hosting of the Second International Convention of Little People in Sydney in 1988.

Chapter Eleven

NEW SOUTH WALES – THE DOMINANT STATE

New South Wales has been the dominant force in the LPAA right from its establishment back in 1968.  It played host to the very first National Convention of Little People in Port Macquarie and in fact, held every National Convention up until 1973.  Up to 1988, it had hosted twelve out of twenty National Conventions.  By virtue of its general population, it has always had the largest membership of any state (around 60% of the total membership) which makes it almost two and a half times the size of the next biggest – Victoria.  This figure is reflective of its representation in the affairs of the National Council where it had a majority of members right up until the mid-1980s when South Australia and Tasmania assumed prominence, along with Victoria.  However, it continues to play an influential role with the move towards a truly national Little People’s association.

At the inaugural National Convention at Port Macquarie, NSW in 1968, the majority of delegates came from New South Wales and the subsequent election of the Steering Committee saw five of the eight members from that state, mostly from Sydney.  New South Wales was given the responsibility of handling the administration of both Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, particularly, in regard to publicity, public relations and secretarial business.

FOCUS ON THE NATIONAL GROUP

During 1969 and 1970, any publicity, fund raising or social events which were organised in New South Wales seemed more concerned with the national body than for the state.  Any developments of note in other states such as Victoria, South Australia and Western Australian generated more interest.  While New South Wales could boast the greatest number of members and acted as a ‘de facto’ national administration for the LPAA, its pre-occupation with developing the Association across Australia was probably a major factor in why it was not the first state to establish an LPAA branch.  Victoria had the honour in 1972.

FIRST NEW SOUTH WALES GATHERING OF MEMBERS

The first recorded meeting of New South Wales members, outside of the first National Convention occurred around May or June of 1969 in Kurrajong, an outer western suburb of Sydney, at the home of Ted and Elaine Maynard.  Among those members present were George and Rosemary Whitaker, co-founders of the LPAA.  The members … had travelled from many parts of the state to get to know each other and discuss their problems.1 This social occasion received publicity and perhaps represented the earliest instance of New South Wales members developing their identity as a distinct state group, as opposed to being members of a national association.  During this period, there were most likely other informal social gatherings of New South Wales members which did not receive publicity of any kind, nor were they reported in the LPAA Newsletter. However, these gatherings played a part in ensuring that the members maintained a sense of regular contact between National Conventions.  This not only applied to New South Wales but also to the other states.

NEW SOUTH WALES ENCOURAGED TO BE ACTIVE

During the formative years of the LPAA, membership and publicity were key areas to be emphasised, and New South Wales being the largest state (in terms of members) was vital to this effort.  In 1969, the members became active in recruitment not only in Sydney, but also in other parts of the state including Wagga Wagga and Port Macquarie. Introductory leaflets were printed and used in both membership and publicity drives. These leaflets set out the official LPAA view point and became the nucleus of all media interviews and talks given by the members, on behalf of the Association.  By 1970, not surprisingly, most of the LPAA’s new members were being recruited from New South Wales.  Valuable publicity was gained also in that year with Frank McHugh, and past LPAA Chairman along with Ted Machin, a Little Person and incumbent LPAA President being interviewed on the Sydney radio station 2GB.  The programme lasted for one hour, with the interview taking fifteen minutes, and phone calls from the listeners occupying the rest of the time.

At the 1970 Port Macquarie (NSW) AGM, reports of state activities in both New South Wales and Victoria were presented.  It was noted that both states were … developing steady and regular gatherings of Little People and their friends.2

Their social events were advertised in the Journal and even drew members from interstate!  The National Council began to … seriously look at the possibility of developing these informal gatherings of members, particularly in capital cities and areas where there is more than one member residing. This applied particularly to New South Wales where the membership was becoming more and more geographically spread outside of Sydney. The Council encouraged New South Wales members to stay active between National Conventions because it would be the secret of not only their progress, but also that of the Association as a national body.  It was stressed that the members should not become too reliant on National Conventions.  To emphasise the Council’s viewpoint, Ted Machin in his ‘President Comments’ column in the Journal of December 1970 urged the members in Sydney to organise a picnic or an outing in early 1971, as there were a lot of members now in the vicinity.

A FLURRY OF SOCIAL ACTIVITY

In 1971, the New South Wales members became involved in a busy schedule of  social functions.  While these functions were raising funds for the LPAA as a national body, they were also fulfilling the National Council’s wish to develop the New South Wales membership into an active social group.  Included amongst the functions were a dinner dance in Wagga Wagga which drew 250 people and coincided with a National Council meeting, a sell-out variety concert held in Turramurra, a northern suburb of Sydney; and a barbecue at Lane Cove National Park, also in Sydney.  The barbecue was attended by the production team from the ABC-TV programme – ‘Chequerboard’ and hence, resulted in publicity on a national scale for the New South Wales group.

As a consequence of these functions, the members were all extremely keen to hold further get-togethers in the near future.  It was suggested … that they should organise themselves to form a Social Committee’.3

Up until this time, it seemed that for some reason that the members were leaving any organisation of functions to the National Council members resident in New South Wales, just because they lived in Sydney. Some members who had asked to host functions apparently did not attend them.  A letter to the Journal in April 1971 urged the members in Sydney to show more interest and help bring other members together.

Throughout mid-1971, there appeared to be an upsurge in calls for state and regional meetings, notably in New South Wales, and to a lesser extent, in Victoria.  The attitude was that it was not just a case of recruiting members in each state, it was more an opportunity of finding Little People in the next suburb or town; hence, drawing members together locally.  This type of attitude became a movement within the LPAA and quickly dominated the letters and articles which appeared in the Journal.  In many articles, there were appeals for the members to pledge a few days per year for state get-togethers and to join the fight to give Little People the right to equality and fair opportunity.  Further functions were held after the 1971 Wagga Wagga (NSW) Convention with the dual aims of raising funds and seeking publicity.

A SIGNIFICANT DAY FOR THE NEW SOUTH WALES GROUP

In the Journal of December 1971, it was touted as an ‘important get-together for the New South Wales members’ and indeed it proved to be in many ways.  The occasion was a cruise on Sydney Harbour with a barbecue held afterwards at the home of Frank and Dorcas McHugh in Henley, a harbour-side suburb, in February 1972. Over 90 members attended this function and came from as far afield as Wagga Wagga, Canberra, Lismore, Wollongong and Port Macquarie.  Included in this number were some new members, as well as others who had heard about the LPAA and wanted to see what it was like.  It was quite possibly the biggest gathering of LPAA members, outside of the National Conventions, up to that period of time which proved to be significant in itself. From this moment onwards, the New South Wales group established its own identity and was able to detach itself from the national body, thus enabling it to conduct fundraising and membership drives for its own benefit and not for the national benefit, as was the practice in previous years.  This was particularly the case in 1972 when the group had to organise the Austinmer (NSW) Convention near Wollongong; just south of Sydney.

A BRANCH IS FORMALLY ESTABLISHED

Reports of LPAA activities in New South Wales between 1972 and 1974 were relatively scarce, as the Journal was infrequently issued at this time.  However, from the information that did appear, it seems that the members were involved with publicity talks, including an interview on ABC Radio, as well as more fundraising.  Social functions were by now a regular feature with dinner dances, art and crafts shows and theatre nights being among the events organised for the benefit of the members and their families.  Although, these functions were well attended, it seemed according to one article which appeared in the March 1974 issue of the Journal, that … there haven’t been many young people’s happenings.4 The member who wrote this letter was hoping to provoke some response from the teenage and young adult members between the ages of 16-25 in the Sydney area by organising a house party specifically for them. It was never reported whether a response was forthcoming or not.

In August 1974 at a barbecue picnic held at Lane Cove River Park, the New South Wales branch of the LPAA was officially formed.  The office-bearers were: Chairman: Robert Wood; Secretary: Muriel Scott (later Cottrell) and Treasurer: Grace Cook.  A committee of five ordinary members was also elected.  Both the executive and the committee consisted entirely of Little People.  Unlike any of the other state branches, New South Wales was almost totally dominated by the influence of adult Little People from its beginnings as a branch.  Between 1968 and 1974, it, like Victoria, South Australia, etc. did rely on the efforts and support of the average-sized parents to guide it through its formative stages, but once the Little People membership was of sufficient strength for it to administer the group, the parents were reduced to a minor role.  From its inception, the branch held meetings around every two to three months but these occasions were more a social event rather than one designed to transact business.

THE BRANCH EXTENDS ITS WINGS

In 1975, the New South Wales branch was heavily involved with raising funds for the National Convention to be held that year at Elanora Heights, a suburb located on Sydney’s north shore.  Members’ contributions as well as assistance from organisations such as the Teralba Bowling Club in Newcastle ensured that the National Convention would be financially viable.  At the 1975 Elanora Heights (NSW) AGM, the LPAA Treasurer in her annual report stated that the formation of the New South Wales branch and its success during its initial year provided a financial boost not only to its coffers but also to those of the Association as a whole.  A by-product of these fundraising efforts was the consistent numbers of Little People and their families and friends who attended the social functions organised during the year.

As mentioned earlier, the New South Wales branch was unique as compared to Victoria, and the subsequent groups in South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia.  Not only were adult Little People controlling the branch’s administration but also its membership in general was spread all over the state.  An interesting characteristic to emerge from this spread was that pockets of members lived in populated regional centres such as Newcastle, Goulburn, Wagga Wagga, Wollongong and to a lesser extent, Canberra-Queanbeyan.  It encouraged meetings and social functions to be held outside of the Sydney metropolitan area, and meant that the New South Wales group truly operated as a state branch.  This was particularly the case during the 1970s and into the 1980s.

FIRST AVERAGE-SIZED MEMBER ELECTED TO THE BRANCH COMMITTEE

The New South Wales branch’s activities continued to focus on fundraising during 1976 and 1977.  Their efforts were helped considerably by the Teralba Bowling Club as well as the Hillston Tennis Club.  These two organisations became loyal supporters of the LPAA by holding functions each year for many years to raise considerable sums of money for the New South Wales branch, which by now had an impressive record in that field of activity.

At the 1977 Port Macquarie (NSW) Convention, the New South Wales branch held its annual general meeting and when its new Committee was elected, its first average-sized member was included.  He was Len Marsh from Sydney, who had a short-statured daughter.  This was partly made possible by the decision at the National AGM to increase the number of ordinary members on the State Committees from one to three, thus, in the case of New South Wales, allowing for average-sized parent representation. The following year, Wilma Steain, from Forster on the NSW Central Coast, who had a short-statured daughter, was elected.  Parent representation on the New South Wales Committee over the years has been irregular because of the aforementioned domination of the adult Little People.

ANOTHER NATIONAL CONVENTION AT ELANORA HEIGHTS

At the 1977 Port Macquarie (NSW) AGM, it was announced that the New South Wales branch would organise the 1978 National Convention again at Elanora Heights in Sydney.  Apart from Port Macquarie, it was the only venue up to that time, to hold more than one National Convention (it previously hosted it back in 1975).  Canberra would soon emulate that distinction in 1979 and Wagga Wagga, two years later in 1981.

In December 1977, a new Committee was elected and the prospect of being involved with the organisation of the following year’s National Convention seemed to engender a great deal of enthusiasm among the members present at the meeting.  A report of the branch’s activities submitted to the Journal noted that … it was a pity that there were only four positions for it was gratifying to find that nearly all present wished to be nominated.5

Altogether, Little People occupied seven out of the total committee membership of eight.  During 1977 and 1978, the New South Wales branch raised funds for the Elanora Heights National Convention in a variety of ways, including street stalls, raffles and proceeds from a play!

While 1978 was a busy year for the New South Wales branch, it is interesting to note that two significant events for its members occurred.  Firstly, that year was the start of the so-called ‘Goulburn Weekend’, where the members once a year would travel to the town of Goulburn, about 200 kilometres south-west of Sydney for a branch meeting and participate in a dinner dance organised by the local RSL Club.  It was started by Kevin and Valerie Howard, a short©statured couple active within the New South Wales branch. Kevin and Valerie Howard, a short©statured couple who were residents of the town and active within the New South Wales Branch.  Its initial success in 1978 led to it becoming an annual event on the branch’s calendar.  Secondly, in November 1978, a bone dysplasia clinic was opened at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Camperdown in Sydney which provided a major boost for the members in terms of available specialist treatment and research into the causes of short stature.

LPAA INVOLVEMENT IN THE AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

After the 1978 Elanora Heights (NSW) Convention, the New South Wales branch scaled down its social and fundraising activities gradually.  It tended to concentrate on Christmas functions, picnics and barbecues as well as the annual Goulburn weekend. Its funds still mainly relied on the charity days held by the Hillston Ladies’ Tennis Club and the Teralba Bowling Club.  Although the branch meetings were still being held about every three months, it became apparent in the early 1980s that attendances of members were declining.  In an effort to arrest the slide, meetings were combined with outings.  If this idea was not too successful guest speakers were introduced at meetings. This experience was mirrored in other states whenever poor attendances were registered at their functions.  Significantly, at about the same time, the National Council was trying to address a corresponding drop in members in the LPAA as a whole, particularly amongst the young adult Little People.

At the 1979 Canberra Convention, the New South Wales branch once again held its AGM during the same week as the National AGM.  Whereas the number of ordinary members on the state Committee in previous years had varied from one to five, it now was fixed at four.  One of those four members elected for 1979/80 was an average-sized parent – Helen Craft from Newcastle.  During the National AGM, it was decided that the New South Wales branch should also rescind its administrative control over LPAA affairs in the Australian Capital Territory.  For the first time, a ‘state’ representative was elected from the ACT with Fay McCurdy, a Little Person and the Association’s Journal Editor during that period, being elected.  With the National Convention being held in the nation’s capital that year, it was considered an appropriate move given that such an event would generate publicity about the LPAA in the ACT and perhaps create some interest among potential members.  There were never enough members to form an independent group, both before and after the representative was elected, so in some respects it may be argued that this move was token recognition for the handful of members who lived in Canberra.  In order to maintain contact with other LPAA members, they had to travel either to Sydney or Goulburn, or to a lesser extent, Wagga Wagga to attend social functions or meetings.  The New South Wales branch never held meetings in Canberra so National Council gatherings or National Conventions were the only real opportunities for the ACT members to meet others locally.  Given that scenario, the opportunities were rare indeed.

During 1980, the branch experienced a lull in its social activities which resulted in the appointment of a social secretary at the first meeting held in 1981.  It was hoped that such an appointment would lead to a greater number of organised functions which in turn, would attract the uncommitted members, particularly those in the young adult age group.  One function which proved to be an attraction for New South Wales members in 1981 was a meeting with His Royal Highness Prince Charles, Prince of Wales at the Sydney Botanical Gardens in April.  The meeting took the form of a morning tea and ten members of the branch were chosen to represent the LPAA.  Being in the same company as royalty was a moment that those members would never forget.  Also in that year, the branch was involved with a number of functions concerned with the 1981 United Nations’ International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP).  The branch’s public awareness campaign centred around attendance at seminars and publicity talks to various community groups.  An example of the branch’s commitment to the IYDP campaign occurred in the previous year when the LPAA was represented in the newly-formed Hunter Regional Co-operative for the Disabled (Newcastle).  Its representative, Helen Craft, was part of a group conducting a survey in the form of a questionnaire to determine accessibility of public buildings in Newcastle for the disabled.  The issue of accessibility of public buildings was one of many tackled by not only the LPAA, through its state branches but also other disabled groups throughout 1981.

PUBLICATION OF ‘INFORMATION GUIDE ON PERSONS OF SHORT STATURE’

While the New South Wales branch achieved a great deal in terms of public awareness of short stature during IYDP, its greatest achievement was certainly the publication of a booklet titled – ‘Information Guide on Persons of Short Stature’, which was compiled by Jack Blair, with photographic contributions from other branch members.  Jack himself had a short-statured son and was the recipient of a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) degree as well as completing an Associate Diploma in Welfare Studies.  He had also developed a particular interest in the vocational education of Little People through his association with the LPAA and employment with the New South Wales TAFE Vocational Education Division.

The idea for this booklet was first mooted at a National Council meeting in Queanbeyan, New South Wales in 1977.  The aim was to do something practical and further the objectives of the LPAA and educate the public about Little People thus eliminating any stigma and removing any misconceptions.  In the past, any publications on Little People were aimed at limited numbers such as medical personnel or parents of short-statured children.  It was hoped to produce a book which was suitable not only for the general public but also contained material which interested social workers, clergy, doctors, employment officers as well as parents of short-statured children and obviously, Little People themselves.

At the 1978 Elanora Heights (NSW) AGM, the booklet was circulated in its incomplete draft form to members present.  Comments expressed at that meeting centred on the use of the word ‘restricted’ in the booklet title which was subsequently dropped after an overwhelming objection from the members, who wanted a substitute term which was more appropriate to conditions of dwarfism.  Twelve months later, at the 1979 Canberra AGM, the booklet was all but ready for printing apart from a few minor amendments and additions.  The new booklet title was approved and a cover design favoured. Information in the booklet had come from medical and welfare publications both in Australia and overseas.  Limited copies of the yet-to-be printed booklet were made available but its completion was still to occur.  A sub-committee of New South Wales members (R. Wood, J. McHugh and J. Blair) was formed to finalise its contents including the selection of photographs depicting everyday situations.

During 1979 and 1980, funds were sought to finance the printing and distribution of the booklet.  After much effort and many delays, a grant was approved by the New South Wales Minster for Youth and Community Services in late 1980.  It was much less than requested and it posed a problem for the New South Wales branch which by now had received advanced requests from LPAA members and Little People associations overseas.  One of these associations – the Netherlands Association for Short People had requested that several copies be translated into Dutch.  The problem of distribution was handled by another sub-committee of the New South Wales branch.  By late 1981, the ‘Information Guide on Persons of Short Stature’ had reached the final stages of production.  In future years, every LPAA member, both current and new would receive a copy.  Its significance as a resource to the members was best summed up at the 1978 Elanora Heights (NSW) AGM by John Davidson, in his annual report as National Secretary.  He stated that … the assistance it can give to new parents, in particular, will be of great value to the future growth and development of our Association’.6

ADULT LITTLE PEOPLE REGAIN ENTHUSIASM

In the early 1980s when the New South Wales branch was experiencing problems with declining attendances at meetings and social functions, particularly among its adult Little People membership, it was clearly apparent that some members were disillusioned with the branch and its direction.  This disillusionment was also felt on a national basis, but to a lesser extent.  In a bid to engender some camaraderie and rekindle enthusiasm among the adult Little People, the New South Wales branch hosted a weekend in March 1982 in the small country town of Berrima, about 80 km south-west of Sydney.  Adult Little People and their friends gathered for a weekend of recreational activities and discussion workshops.  It was held in an environment of fellowship and conviviality and … it was unanimously agreed to have future weekends of like kind for adult LPAA’ers.7

The weekend itself cemented friendships and a spirit of equality was engendered among both Little People and average©sized people who were not aware of Little People.

RECORD FUNDRAISING EFFORT FOR THE 1984 NATIONAL CONVENTION

Although they did not become involved with the organisation of as many National Conventions in the 1980s as they had in the 1970s, the New South Wales branch still sustained a regular level of fundraising activity.  Throughout its development, the branch and its committee members have been heavily involved with fundraising which has certainly in part resulted from the frequency of National Conventions in New South Wales.  It did not ignore other activities such as promotion and publicity, medical liaison and social welfare, but its main strength lay in raising money from social functions. With such an emphasis, it is perhaps not unreasonable to suggest that the New South Wales branch is more readily identified as primarily a social group.  In contrast, for example, the Victorian branch identified itself as a group which emphasised its interest in the education and social welfare of Little People.

After playing a major role in the organisation of the 1981 and 1982 National Conventions held respectively in Wagga Wagga and Mt. Seaview, the New South Wales branch again mustered its resources to host the 1984 National Convention at Lawson in the Blue Mountains, approximately 80 km west of Sydney.  During the 1983 New South Wales AGM, a new position of social organiser was created, specifically with the upcoming National Convention in mind.  Unusually, the branch saw fit to elect office-bearers (Chairman, Secretary and Treasurer) without a committee of ordinary members but observers were allowed.  From February through to August 1984, the branch embarked on a programme of fundraising events which were both numerous and varied. The level of activity specifically geared towards the National Convention was quite remarkable with barbecues, garage sales, cake stalls, etc. being held during that period. Handsome fundraising efforts resulted and reported on a regular basis to the LPAA Journal. By the time, the National Convention was held, the New South Wales branch had raised somewhere in the vicinity of $2,300 towards its costs.  Up until that period, the amount raised was a record by quite a clear margin.  It was a tribute to the branch and its members that after the successful organisation of the 1984 Lawson (NSW) National Convention, a substantial profit was returned.  Some of this profit was donated to the National Council and placed in the Association’s Travel Fund to subsidise the travel expenses of Little People in attending National Conventions.  The Convention itself attracted about eighty members and their families and friends from most states. The choice of venue contributed to a rewarding outcome for the New South Wales branch.  In a report on the 1984 National Convention in the LPAA Journal, it was stated that the Blue Mountains … provided a pleasant setting for what turned out to be quite a happy, relaxed week for all.8

THE CALM AFTER THE STORM

After the frenetic activity during 1984, the New South Wales branch was to experience a relatively quiet period from the end of 1984 through to 1987.  This was mainly due to the fact that no National Conventions were due to be held in that state for three years. Another contributing factor was the surplus of funds from the recent National Convention which enabled the branch to spend less time on its ongoing fundraising activities for a temporary period during 1984 and 1985.

The 1984 New South Wales AGM was held during the Lawson (NSW) Convention. After the unusual situation which had occurred with the committee structure at the previous AGM, it was decided to revert to the normal practice of having both an executive of office-bearers and a committee of ordinary members.  A total of six Little People and two average-sized members were elected to the branch’s committee for 1984/85.  Five members were elected as ordinary members on the committee.  Due to the recent success of the National Convention, about fifty members and friends attended the first branch meeting to be held after it.  Apart from the branch’s Christmas Party in December of 1984, attendances at branch functions tapered off as the functions themselves became infrequent.  Reports of New South Wales branch activities to the LPAA Journal became irregular in 1985 as the level of activity declined.  However, in its annual report presented to the 1985 Kyneton (Vic) AGM, the New South Wales branch noted that the period 1984/85 was its most successful year ever.

PARENT CONTACT TRAINING PROGRAMME IS LAUNCHED

During 1986, the branch became more socially active again with functions such as garage sales and cake stalls being consistent revenue raisers.  Two interesting events occurred during the year.  Firstly, several members of the branch took part in the Blacktown City Festival parade in May.  Over 200,000 people lined the streets of this outer western Sydney suburb to see the LPAA banner displayed ensuring public exposure for the branch.

Secondly, in August of that year, the Parent Contact Training Programme for New South Wales members was commenced.  It was a programme designed to give the members skills and strategies to effectively handle situations, with regard to counselling of parents of newly-born Little People.  Participants in the programme included Little People, siblings of Little People and parents of average size.  It was planned as a participatory workshop in which experiences were shared and communication skills practised in a supportive situation.  The objective was to improve these skills so that the member parents could support the new parents in a more confident and effective way, and with attention given to the guidelines of the LPAA.

The success of this weekend led to further weekends in which refresher courses were held for any other members who wanted to take advantage of the opportunity to help parents, in need.  In March 1987, the programme’s structure was reviewed.  It was proposed to conduct another course as well as a refresher programme at a later stage. The overall success of the Parent Contact Training Programme led to the New South Wales branch donating a copy of the course to Margaret Sahhar, from the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, who was responsible for the co-ordination of the Victorian Parent Counselling course.  Coincidentally, the Victorian course was held at similar time to the one in New South Wales.

AN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION FOR SYDNEY

The increase in fundraising activities during 1986 was geared towards the 1987 National Convention in Port Macquarie, which was the twentieth in the Association’s history. By the time of the 1986 New South Wales branch AGM in July, a contribution of over $1,000 had already been raised.  Further fundraising was done in 1987 through barbecues and garage sales.  Once again, like the 1984 Lawson (NSW) AGM, the revenue raised more that adequately subsidised the 1987 Port Macquarie (NSW) Convention.

Along with the National body and the Victorian branch, the New South Wales branch became inundated with media requests during 1987 which concerned the so-called ‘dwarf-throwing’ controversy.  The media coverage well and truly put the LPAA in the national spotlight and led to the New South Wales branch appointing its own public relations person to handle future queries from both the electronic and printed media. Members of the branch were the subject of an article in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’, as well as an interview on the Channel Nine TV programme ‘Today’ during this period. The branch felt that to do any more interviews would only attract attention to the event itself.  The view was also expressed that the media saturation may have an adverse effect on the sensitivities of Little People and their parents.

At the 1986 Victor Harbour (SA) AGM, it was announced that the 1988 National Convention at Elanora Heights in Sydney was to be an international gathering of Little People.  Although a National Council sub-committee to plan and organise the Convention was formed at a later Council meeting, the New South Wales branch formed a smaller sub-committee at its 1987 Christmas Party.  The function of this sub-committee was to arrange accommodation for visiting delegates, send invitations to overseas Little People associations, seek publicity from interested media sources and produce promotional material, which included a printed LPAA T-shirt.  Needless to say, the branch’s activities during 1988 focussed on raising enough funds, in conjunction with the other state branches to successfully stage the Second International Convention of Little People.

It was fitting that New South Wales was chosen as the host state for such an important occasion in the LPAA’s history because it was the ‘birthplace’ of the Association and that alone is an appropriate reason.  However, it was also the year of Australia’s Bicentennial and with Sydney being the centre of the celebrations, it makes the International Convention an event of special significance not only to the LPAA members in New South Wales but also in the rest of the country.

OVERVIEW

The New South Wales branch had a dominant influence on the development of the LPAA dating back to its infancy in 1968.  Its members have monopolised most positions on the National Council and because it has always had the largest membership, the branch has been able to host more National Conventions than any other state.  It was probably a desire to see the LPAA grow on a national level that saw New South Wales not forming a branch of its own until 1974 – six years after the foundation had been laid.  However, it must be noted that it had been an active social group before that time and continued in that fashion afterwards.  With its members, both within and outside of Sydney taking an active part in the branch’s affairs, it has truly operated as a state branch of the LPAA.  Its continuing strength and vitality are essential if the LPAA is to progress into the 1990s and beyond.

References:
1 LPAA Newsletter, vol. 1, no. 7, July 1969, p. 1.
2 LPAA Journal, vol. 2, no. 6, October 1970, p. 4.
3 LPAA Journal, vol. 3, no. 2, April 1971, p. 3.
4 LPAA Journal, vol. 7, no. 1, March 1974, p. 4.
5 LPAA Journal, no. 42, October 1978, p. 8.
6 LPAA Journal, no. 47, August 1979, p. 10.
7 LPAA Journal, no. 62, April 1982, p. 12.
8 LPAA Journal, no. 76, October 1984, p. 12.

© 2017 SSPA NSW.