Class of 1932

Social justice is a theme that runs strongly through the Chaney family, its roots with Fred Chaney Sr, the first of seven Chaneys to attend the school. His mother was widowed during his school years and he saw out the Depression as the son of a single mother. It left a mark and no doubt motivated him to secure a scholarship at Aquinas. He was an active member of the Debating team and continually shone on the athletics field: regularly winning the 100 yds and 220 yds, gaining a place in the “quarter-mile” and the hurdles. He was Champion Athlete in 1931 and won the 100 yds and 220yds at Interschool Athletics. He was in the winning Alcock Shield team in his leaving year, 1932.

Economic necessity dictated that he train as a teacher rather than pursue his chosen path of engineering. Fred appointed initially as monitor, and with no official training nevertheless, taught in state schools for nearly a decade. He met and married Mavis in 1938 and together they raised six children: Fred (Jr), Robin, Karen, Richard, Michael and John.

Fred enlisted in the RAAF, trained as a pilot and qualified as a flying instructor before serving in Papua New Guinea and Borneo. The courage and skill he displayed in hazardous operations in Borneo won him the Air Force Cross.

He returned to teaching for five years before resigning, as acting headmaster, to pursue politics. Fred held the federal seat of Perth for the Liberal Government from 1955 to 1969 and served in the cabinet for many years. Robert Menzies appointed him as Minister for the Navy in 1963. In 1970 he was appointed the Administrator of the Northern Territory and he established himself as a strong advocate of Aboriginal land rights. Both he and Lady Chaney were made blood brothers of Groote Eylandt Aboriginal artist Yirawala in recognition of his achievements. He was Lord Mayor of Perth from 1978 to 1982 and twice decorated by the Queen: once in 1970 with a CBE and again in 1981 with a KBE. Additionally, Sir Fred Chaney was state president of the Returned Services League.

Fred’s long history of public service is rooted in his fierce commitment to social justice and a belief in the inherent equality of people. The drive that sustained his impressive list of achievements came from values instilled during Catholic schooling in Perth. This and the strength of his marriage to Mavis were the two aspects of his life he has successfully imparted to his children.