On March 3, 1953, more than 60,000 bottles of free milk were distributed to Brisbane students at 111 state schools, 37 independent schools and 15 pre-schools. Although the federal government had passed the State Grants (Milk for School Children) Act in December 1950, Queensland was the last state to introduce the scheme. Concern regarding distribution and the effects of a tropical climate on unrefrigerated milk had delayed its implementation.
The first day of the scheme ran remarkably smoothly. Enterprising journalists from Brisbane’s competing newspapers, the Brisbane Telegraph and The Courier-Mail, were sent to several schools to observe. The latter reported that, when the milk was delivered between nine and 10.30am, it was left in “cool central spots, usually under school buildings”. At each school, teachers devised their own distribution system so time was not wasted during the morning break. At southside Junction Park State School, Annerley, for example, 1000 bottles were distributed in five minutes.
Most students were pleased with the initiative. David McAllan, 11, from Junction Park State School, said the free milk was the “best thing that ever happened, except holidays”. Others were more specific in their acceptance. “It’s good, but I wish it was coloured,” said Paul Nicholas, 11, from New Farm State School. Fellow student Mary Birineji, 5, was one of the approximately 5 per cent of Brisbane students who refused the milk altogether – “I’d rather have coffee,” she said.
The free milk scheme, provided for schoolchildren under the age of 13, was rolled out through the rest of the state later that year.
- Free Milk Scheme (Department of Education and Training Queensland)
- 60,000 Small Hands Went-Up (1953, March 4). The Courier-Mail
- City Schools Get Free Milk To-Day (1953, March 3). The Courier-Mail
- City’s Schools Get 62,000 Bottles Of Free Milk (1953, March 3). Brisbane Telegraph
Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator. State Library of Queensland