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Deb Mitchelldeborahlmi@optusnet.com.auPerth College, Mt Lawley
Andie Holbornandie@expressiondrama.com.auPrivate Studio, Wembley Downs
Karen Goddarddgoddard@iinet.net.auPrivate Studio, Como
Alice Hamilton alicehamilton.98@gmail.comSt Hilda's, Mosman Park
Mary Sherbornemary@peakspeech.com.auPrivate Studio, Mt Lawley
Jillian Gilbertson gilbojilly@gmail.com.auMelville Primary School
Chelsea Crowechelseacrowe@mail.comPerth College, Mt Lawley
Sally Barendsesjbarendse@gmail.comPenrhos College, Como



Julia was the Head of Voice at WAAPA for 22 years. She has worked as both a Voice and Performance Coach and a Business Consultant in Voice and Performance in Australia, and globally.

We are delighted to have Julia on board as our esteemed patron.

‘Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak, and to sit down and listen.’ - Winston Churchill


The Speech Teachers Association of Western Australia is one of the oldest professional teaching associations in the state. The Association has experienced a rather fascinating history which epitomises the passion and dedication of those foundation members to the subject of Speech and Drama.

The original term used for Speech and Drama was Elocution. In 1928, the Association was founded and it was originally known as the W.A. Elocution Teachers Association, the first of its kind in Australia. Later the name was changed to Speech Teachers Association of W.A. It became an incorporated body on the 20 November 1952. Music had flourished in those early years and had at the time a very well established incorporated body with some fine musicians, however during this time, a number of teachers, students and interested parents were stirring the community to promote the cause of speech, recognising the growing educational value of the subject. This was a period of trial and error and a voice was needed that could carry its message to those in authority - some united body was imperative to make an effective impact. From this, the Elocution Teachers of Perth formed an Association which was to prove invaluable to the profession.

The examining body, Trinity College of London, was very popular with music students and teachers, and later elocution was included with its own specific syllabus. Examiners, as they continue to do so today, were sent twice yearly from London to Australia for examination purposes. Dr C Edgar Ford, who was well known for his musicianship as well as being an outstanding man of literature and letters, became one of the first examiners of Speech and Drama. An Annual Elocution Competition was established and adjudicators from the Eastern States were engaged for this purpose. Some of those judges included: Messrs James Anderson, Trotmann, Montgomery Stewart, Douglas Caddy and Frank Johnston.

The Australian Music Examinations Board had been holding examinations in all branches of music across Australia for some years. In 1918 AMEB (WA) was established to provide music examinations. It was in 1928 that the Board introduced Elocution, or as it later became known as, Art of Speech. Over time entrants increased and special examiners were appointed and the AMEB grew in popularity. The Association was indebted to Professor A.D. Ross who was for many years chairman of the AMEB in Perth. Professor Ross urged members of the Board to consider the inclusion of Speech in the Examinations syllabus. One of the movements of the newly formed association was to approach the Public Examinations Board of the University of Western Australia with a request that Speech be put on the same footing as Music and Art, making it a subject for the Junior and Leaving Examinations. This was accomplished at this time in Queensland and Tasmania only. It was through persuasion of the ‘powers that be’ that the movement was ultimately sanctioned and speech formed part of the Junior and Leaving examinations in W.A.

Apart from examinations, the association was involved and associated with numerous activities such as Teacher’s Recitals, plays, Repertory Club, Concert Arts and other kindred societies. Miss Murial Bird’s studio in St George’s Terrace was generously used for many occasions, such as informal talks, social events and post examiners’ meetings. One such gathering was most profitable to the association when Mr Alexander Watson (Examiner; Elocution, Trinity College, London) gave a recital in the Karrakatta Hall and the proceeds were presented to the association for the purchase of a library. Mr John Le Tessier selected the collection of resources and the first home of this library was in a room in Forrest Chambers, St Georges Terrace. Dr. C. Edgar Ford, a great supporter of speech and drama, performed the official opening of the library. Later the library was moved to the basement of the West Australian Chambers and during the war years it was moved again to Miss Muriel Bird’s studio which was located in the same building as West Australian Chambers. Mrs Joyce Tate took over Miss Bird’s studio and later transferred her teaching studio to Forrest Place and the Watson Library went with her. Later venues for STAWA meetings included the Women’s Services Guild in Harvest Terrace, West Perth in the 1970s, and Drabble House, Nedlands in the 1980s. In the 1990s meetings were held at Wesley College, South Perth, and in more recent times meetings are held at the houses and studios of current council members.

In 1997 STAWA organized the inaugural Perth Speech and Drama Festival for its members and their students at Collier Primary School, Como. The Festival is still conducted and provides the opportunity for students to perform, at varying levels, works of prose, poetry and drama as well as public speaking and storytelling.

In 2006 the AMEB became co-presenters and sponsors of the Festival, awarding the Blue Ribbon Award for Year 12 Monologue.
In 2016 the City of Stirling also sponsored the Festival and donated a trophy for Year 11/12 Duologues. The Speech and Drama Teachers Association of WA also provides the STDAWA prize for the best Diploma Candidate which is presented at the annual AMEB Award Ceremony and Diploma presentation. And recently, SDTAWA sponsored a prize for the Best 2nd Year WAAPA poetry performance.

In 2017 SDTAWA approached Ms Julia Moody, Head of Voice at WAAPA to be our Patron. Julia accepted this honour and has already shown herself to be a worthy figurehead for our organization. We have for many years valued her sessions of Professional Development and adjudication prowess at our Perth Speech and Drama Festival.

Today, the Speech and Drama Teachers Asosciation of WA, SDTAWA (as it is now known), is very active and the horizons of the Association in the 21st Century have expanded greatly. Emphasis has been placed on the importance of communication both interpersonal and within the business and education spheres. Due to this expansion the Association will embrace a new target audience with a demand for services with a difference. Without the drive, vision, passion and leadership of those founding association members of Speech and Drama, the achievements of today could not have been realized. It is important to acknowledge and pay tribute to those inaugural members and their initiatives which established the path to the future.

This information is based on a small booklet which contains a potted history of the Association and it has been dedicated to the memory of the late Mrs E.M. McRostie who was the foundation president.

Included in this history are additional sections by Anita LeTessier where the names of teachers and supporters after the foundation of the Association are listed. This is followed by an outline of the history of the Association from 1977- 1986 written by Honor L. Nottage, who was President of the Association from 1977-1983. The author of the documented early history is not identified; however it could have been Honor L. Nottage.

Council Members

Emily Verstegen - President
Alice Hamilton - Vice President & Communications Officer
Angie Maher - Treasurer
Jane Gibbs - Secretary
Maureena Lockyer-Benzie - Council & Referrals Officer
Chelsea Crowe - Council & Vocal News Editor
Jillian Gilbertson - Council
Karen Goddard - Council
Lea Logie - Council
Cara Phillips - Council
Stephanie Swain - Council




I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (major in human resource management) and have been working
full-time in the HR department of a law firm since then. Although I have had little to do with performing per se,
my job has seen me make a number of small presentations within my team and bigger ones outside.

Notably, I presented earlier in the year at our firm-wide quarterly presentation where updates are given from each department in front of the entire firm. Well, being the newbie in the team I was nominated to speak for HR.

Of course, I was super nervous, but after the presentation, I was overwhelmed with positive comments from people within my team and the firm more widely.

I put that down to my 8 years of Speech & Drama training. Without that and the fantastic coaching I received, I would not have had the confidence or the ability to do something like that in my job today.

Speech & Drama was a huge part of my life for so long and although it’s not so much anymore, the skills I was taught are so valuable and I can see them being used today and will continue to be used.

Hannah Robins
HR Coordinator
Squire Patton Bogs

Harriet Roberts
The Blue Room Theatre

A passion for arts and culture has been instilled in me throughout my life; and among my family, the place I live and the privileges that I have, growing up through Speech and Drama since primary school age has undoubtedly added fuel to this fire. While I realised relatively early on in my post-schooling life that I didn’t want to pursue the career as a performer I once had envisaged when I was younger (and with stars in my eyes), I knew that in some way I wanted to contribute to the industry that makes our lives and cities so rich. My time in speech and drama developed my sense of confidence and competence during the awkward ages where we seek to find ourselves, and it was the beginning of my education in the arts, planting the seed for where I am today. I now work as a producer for an independent theatre in Perth, and I thrive in being able to use my unique combination of skills in leadership and management with my training in the arts to support artists in their development, ambitions and presentations.

Speech and Drama changed my life. I began lessons as a timid eleven year old and emerged as a confident, articulate seventeen year old, ready to tackle any challenge that came my way.

The lessons taught me integral skills in a safe and supportive environment which included how to write an engaging speech, storytelling and how to speak eloquently when presenting impromptu.

Without Speech and Drama, I would not have even contemplated participating in the Lions Youth of the Year competition, nor the Ashurst Junior Client Interview – both of which I was a Grand Finalist. Speech and Drama empowered me to achieve my goals and ultimately shaped me into who I am today.

Parris McNeil
Law Student
Curtin University




March 21 - SDTAWA X AMEB

May 8 - To Kill a Mockingbird Presented by the Stirling Players

May 29 through June 30 - Perth Speech & Drama Festival

September 12 - Catch Up & Reconnect; Sharing Session

November 18 - Summer Rain presented by WAAPA
Contact Chelsea Crowe

November 28 - Christmas Function TBA


The Association produces a seasonal newsletter titled The Vocal News. This newsletter offers a diverse range of articles associated with Speech and Drama and SDTAWA, including information about upcoming professional development workshops for teachers and students, as well as ideas & activities for teaching.

To receive this newsletter you must be a member of the association, to become a member go to the join page.

Find A Teacher

Alice Hamilton
Andie Holborn
Anne Wijesinghe
Cara Phillips
Chelsea Crowe
Deb Mitchell
Emily Verstegen
Jane Gibbs
Jillian Gilbertson
Karen Goddard
Lea Logie
Mary Sherborne
Maureena Lockyer-Benzie
Sally Barendse
Stephanie Swain

By consult, Claremont
Private Studio, Wembley Downs
By consult, Harrisdale
Guildford Grammar, Guildford
Perth College, Mt Lawley
By consult, Mt Lawley
Perth College, Mt Lawley
By consult, Claremont
Melville Primary School
Private Studio, Como
Private Studio, Shenton Park
Private Studio, Mt Lawley
By consult, Dianella
Penrhos College, Como
St Hildas, Mosman Park

For referrals, please complete the below form with the following information:
Student/s name/s
Student/s age & school year
Reason for enrolling
Previous experience

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is SDTAWA?

SDTAWA is the acronym for the Speech and Drama Teachers Association of Western Australia. SDTAWA, established in 1930, is the registered association for teachers of Speech and Drama in Western Australia. Its members include teachers practicing privately and/or within the Department of Education WA, as well as retired Speech and Drama teachers, senior level students of Speech and Drama and those with a particular interest in the teaching of Speech and Drama.

For more information see the ‘About Us’ section of the website

Q: Who can join SDTAWA?

SDTAWA has three levels of membership; Full Membership, Country Membership and Associate Membership.

Associate Membership and Country Membership of SDTAWA is open to all those with an interest in Speech and Drama teaching and learning, including senior students.

Full Membership of SDTAWA applies to those who are qualified to teach Speech and Drama (or equivalent) and who are, or have been, involved in teaching Speech and Drama (or equivalent).

Every new member is ratified by the SDTAWA Council.

Q: What is Speech and Drama and why study it?

The study of Speech and Drama includes public speaking, reading aloud, communication, voice projection, improvement of minor speech impairments, such as clarity and nasality (we recommend students seek professional advice from a Speech Pathologist for speech irregularities or abnormalities). In addition to voice and speech work, a Speech and Drama teacher also develops performance skills in a diverse range of performance genres such as acting, mime, creative movement, storytelling, public speaking, poetry and prose recitation.
Speech and Drama builds and improves life skills such as teamwork and cooperative learning, confidence and presentation. It encourages imagination and creativity, helps boost confidence and establishes a strong sense of commitment and ownership of tasks and decisions. Speech and Drama programs will develop strong public speakers and instil in students a love of drama, literature and speaking.

Q: What is a typical Speech & Drama Curriculum?

There is no prescribed curriculum instead each teacher has their own program and method of teaching. However, every Speech and Drama teacher will cover the following: poetry, performance, prose, speech giving, drama games and vocal exercises.

While there is no Speech and Drama curriculum, there are a number of examining bodies in the field and Speech and Drama Teachers will likely teach in a method that prepares students for these exams.

For more information on these exams please see the ‘Useful Links’ section of the website.

Q: Are Speech and Drama lessons just for children?

No. Speech and Drama lessons are available to people of all ages and abilities. Our teachers are all qualified professionals capable of teaching a diverse range of participants no matter what their age and ability. Some teachers do have areas in which they specialise e.g. children and young adults; mature age students; adults in the business sector.

The ‘Find a Teacher’ section of the website will help direct you to the appropriate teacher for your needs.

Q: I have no experience in acting or public speaking, can I still join?

Students of Speech and Drama come from all walks of life and have a diverse experience of Speech and Drama and different levels of competence in the area. We welcome everyone no matter what stage you are at including English as a Second Language (ESL) students.

Q: What performance opportunities are available to students of Speech & Drama?

A vast range of performance opportunities exist for students of our Members. Some of these include:

Preparation and performance in the AMEB, Trinity College of London, Oracy Australia and other examining bodies or Speech competitions.

Participation in the Annual Perth Speech & Drama Festival. This Festival is open to students of Full Members of SDTAWA. This is a unique, yet friendly Festival that recognises excellence in the performance of language, literature and drama within a nurturing, yet competitive environment.

For more information on the Festival see the ‘Calendar’ Section of the website.

Individual and group performance opportunities provided by your Speech and Drama teacher within their own studio setting.

Q: How do I find a Speech & Drama Teacher?

A: Please visit the Find a Teacher Section of this site.

Q: How much are the fees that Speech & Drama teachers charge? And what are the payment

There is no published scale of fees. Individual teachers will advise you of their fees and their preferred method of payment. The fee may depend on whether you require individual or group lessons, and the level of examination you are preparing for.

Q: What is the difference between a Speech Pathologist and a Speech & Drama Teacher?

A Speech Pathologist deals with voice and speech irregularities or ‘abnormalities’ within a clinical setting. Patients are often referred by a GP, a School Screening Programme, Occupational Therapist or a Speech and Drama Teacher.

A Speech & Drama teacher deals with ‘normal’ voice and speech and aims to embellish through strategies that enhance quality of voice, confidence and clarity in communication.

Q: What careers are there in Speech & Drama?

Students of Speech and Drama can become actors and teachers of Speech and Drama, but these are not the only job opportunities. Speech and Drama builds confidence and creativity and plants the seed for strong communication and public speaking skills. These life skills underpin a diverse range of careers and fields such as law, politics, medicine, teaching & lecturing, media, amongst many others.

Useful Links

SDTAWA has affiliations and links to a number of different organisations, locally, nationally and globally.

Australian Music Examination Board (AMEB)
National: https://www.ameb.edu.au/speech-drama
Local: http://www.ameb.uwa.edu.au/

There is always at least one representative of SDTAWA on the AMEB Board as part of the Advisory Committee on syllabus and other educational matters. The present STDAWA representatives are Dr Lea Logie, and Karen Goddard as Chairwoman.

Trinity College London

London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA)

Oracy Australia

West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA)

Barking Gecko Theatre

Spare Parts Puppets

Blue Room Theatre

Fringe Festival


Become a Member of SDTAWA Today
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