Telopea Board Voting and Nominees statements

Telopea Board Voting and Nominees statements

Voting will be open for 1 week commencing 11am Monday 22 February and closing 11am Monday 1 March 2021.

Voting ballots and envelopes may be collected from the front office and a signed statement will be required regarding your only voting once in this election. Ballots are to be lodged in the Ballot Box at the front office.

There are two positions for the board available - as a first past the post process, you may only vote for 1 candidate.  You are not able to number your votes.  The two candidates with the most valid votes will be considered successful.

Both terms are for two years.

Tui Davidson

Assistant Returning Officer 

Felicity Williams Dowden

Hello and thank you for considering me to represent parents and families on the TPS Board. My name is Felicity Williams Dowden and I am mum to 3 boys including my oldest, Alexander Dowden who is in class 4.3. I am a paediatrician, working at the Canberra Hospital for over 10 years, and have a keen interest in child health and wellbeing including education and the educational environment.

I would like to bring my experience in child health to the board and contribute to ensuring that Telopea Park School continues to offer a cutting-edge bilingual curriculum while providing a safe and secure place for learning for our children. I would particularly like to encourage ongoing board interest in supporting students with additional learning needs including students with specific learning difficulties and provision of extension activities for those who are gifted and talented. More broadly I would like to continue to nurture and advance the School’s strong ties with the community –something that is a wonderful strength and a source of great pride for our children.

I have experience serving as volunteer on a number of boards and committees for charitable and sporting organisations and also have professional experience with governance and leadership in my role with ACT Health. I have been an active participant in school activities such as the school fete and I have experience managing large fundraising and sporting events and I look forward to an opportunity to use these skills to further contribute to the TPS community. I am currently a member of the board for the charitable organisation Foundation for Angelman Syndrome Therapeutics (FAST) Australia. I have an abiding interest in education and currently serve as the Director of Paediatric Physician Education for the ACT for the Royal Australian College of Physicians.

I look forward to the opportunity to join the TPS Board and welcome your support.


Noel Derwort

Being a parent representative on the Telopea Park School Board is a privilege which brings significant responsibilities, specifically to raise parents’ and children’s needs within the school board, making sure our voices and concerns are represented in all decisions. It is a role I am passionate about and one I commit to fulfilling with dedication and drive.

I have significant previous leadership and engagement experience on boards, committees, and in both my personal and professional life. I understand that ensuring our voices are reflected in school decisions starts very simply with parents turning up and doing the work. I have demonstrated my commitment to ‘turning up’ in my 7 years of being active in the P&C, most recently in leading the traffic and pedestrian safety subcommittee. I feel my years on the P&C and engaging with past parent representatives on the board ensures I have a good grasp on the challenges this role will bring, as well as the absolute need to get this right. With children in Grades 6, 4 and 3, I have a wide spread of exposure within the school, as well as a long future with the school to fuel my desire to ensure long-lasting positive change to benefit all our kids.

I bring to this role a background which includes in excess of 3 decades of service with the Air Force. I recently retired as a Senior Officer who has had both fulfilling and extremely demanding roles, where successful communication was key to making the most of what we had. Building on my experience, I strongly believe that good communication between the parent community and school administration is the key to achieving transformation. I have developed strong relationships across all parts of both Government and the private sector, where I am now working.

I would bring to this role my extensive knowledge and experience in board roles, my first being with the Red Cross in Darwin in 2005. I have continued in a variety of roles ever since, including being the Chair of several boards. I maintain my membership of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, having successfully completed board training many years ago – the ongoing requirement for professional development keeps me in tune here, and I believe I can assist both the school and other parent representatives in understanding the requirements of board operations.

I am also passionate about education and our future. I have been a flying instructor both in Australia and overseas, as well as an Officer Instructor and mentor. I have also been studying towards a PhD of my own – believing I can’t ask my children to do something that I am not willing to try!

I have three adult children as well which allows me to bring a diversity of background and experience to the school board. This is a side benefit of raising them in various locations across Australia. I am also living the experience of helping them succeed after completing school (and university for some) which provides me with a powerful lens to help shape our younger children’s education, to ensure that our primary and high schools work as a launching pad to a brighter future.

While ‘turning up’ is an important part of making change, the real challenge is knowing what needs to change, and then having a plan to achieve it. If I achieve a position on the board, the three key issues I want to improve are; traffic and pedestrian safety (with the implied parking challenges), better communication between teachers and parents, and, improving our canteen services and options. 


Matthew Roper

We all love Telopea Park School. It has a special place in our Canberra community. We all want it to live up to the vision of excellence in education, giving students the ability to thrive in a complex world by celebrating cultural and linguistic diversity in a safe place where equality, respect and tolerance are assured.

But, after all that 2020 threw at us as a community, we all know now that our school hasn’t always met the great challenge of living out our shared vision. 

Many parents, as shown in the annual School Satisfaction Survey, are not satisfied that the school works with parents and takes our opinions seriously, or that the school is looking for ways to improve, or that teachers are giving useful feedback, or that student behaviour is well managed. More importantly, many of our children have told us in that same survey that they are even more concerned about the same things.

So, we need a Board that is prepared to resoundingly recommit to our school values: Respect, Fairness, Cooperation and Honesty; and take stronger action to protect and model those values for our children. Respect for all, especially women and girls, by saying no to violence. Fairness to include and lift up the disadvantaged and disabled in our school community. Cooperation between teachers and parents in the best interests of all our children. Honesty about the challenges we will face together in 2021, from pandemics, to urban development, to more frequent extreme weather events and most of all the challenges our children will face in the world beyond Telopea, both now and into the future.

We also need a Board that is prepared to run Telopea like the large, professional, organisation it is. Whether it be the delivery of canteen services, Before and After School Care, school sports, student excursions or just classroom stationery, we as a school community will only be able to meet the challenges we face if support services are delivered as professionally as possible. While the Board doesn’t do these things directly, they do set the tone for those that do and are responsible for ensuring accountability for quality outcomes.

What I offer is a fresh approach to the governance of our school, based on my 20 years’ experience in public service and professional services in a variety of leadership and governance roles with extensive knowledge of how to be a leader in the boardroom and bring about positive change through rigour. In particular, I will leverage my professional experience in education policy to ensure the school is focused on the promise of the Gonski Reforms, that every child should have one year’s development for every year at school.

But more importantly, I will be a voice for all parents on the Board, committed to action on the things you, and your kids, have said need to be done- a genuine partnership with parents, ensuring teachers give useful feedback to parents and students, and ensuring that student behaviour is well managed.

2021 will be a pivotal year for our school. We have a new School Plan to develop for the next five years, we will have a new Australian Principal to welcome (as well as supporting our Acting Principal) and we will need to continue to adjust and improve how the school runs as we move from the COVID-normal now toward a (hopefully) post-COVID future.

That’s why I am putting my hand up to serve you in this role. Thank you for considering me as your representative for our School Board.


Nitin Bagul

My family and I moved to Canberra from London in 2017 for making our children global citizens through IB education. We are an adventurous family of four including my wife and two children, my son, who has embarked his learning journey at Telopea Park School and my daughter who is at Red Hill primary school.

Professionally, I am a surgeon/scientist with 20 years of experience in managing patients in NHS (UK) and large programs in multi-national pharmaceuticals. I now lead physicians within Department of Health (DOH) to approve medicines and manage conflicting priorities including budgets and improvements. I am a proud alumnus of universities based in Asia, Europe and Harvard Business School in addition to my affiliation to Royal College of Surgeons, which speaks, of my passion for education and the importance of global thinking. 

Our schools and our city - Canberra is facing various challenges in the COVID-19 era. I have served last one year as a Telopea Board member in a difficult period where arrival of teachers from overseas were delayed and kids had to do online learning.

I am a firm believer in the ethics of servant leadership and by applying to the board position again, I want to show my children that a part of your life should be spent in serving community. My business education and work experience will give me the opportunity to develop long term strategies with other colleagues on the board and tackle complex problems, using data and evidence to drive better decisions for the future generations.

I would like to continue to devote the time and energy that Telopea Park School and community deserves in fulfilling my duties as a board member, thereby maintaining and extending our reputation for educational excellence in Canberra being the only IB middle school.