Free milk for Queensland school children (1953)

"'It's On', was the cry as John Bromage, Jeff Kearley, Jeff Eaton and Brian Heron carried the free milk quota to class 5D at Junction Park State School". Brisbane Telegraph, March 3, 1953

“‘It’s On’, was the cry as John Bromage, Jeff Kearley, Jeff Eaton and Brian Heron carried the free milk quota to class 5D at Junction Park State School”. Brisbane Telegraph, March 3, 1953

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.

David McAllan from Junction Park State School. Brisbane Telegraph, March 3, 1953

David McAllan from Junction Park State School. Brisbane Telegraph, March 3, 1953

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.

"Intent on their free milk the pupils of class 3C at Junction Park follow teacher's instruction to 'Drink slowly'." Brisbane Telegraph, March 3, 1953

“Intent on their free milk the pupils of class 3C at Junction Park follow teacher’s instruction to ‘Drink slowly’.” Brisbane Telegraph, March 3, 1953

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.

Dell New and Edna Budd from Silkstone State School. Free milk scheme was introduced on November 1953. Queensland Times, November 5, 1953

Dell New and Edna Budd from Silkstone State School. Free milk scheme was introduced in Ipswich in November 1953. Queensland Times, November 5, 1953

Free milk distributed at Allenstown State School for the first time, March 1954. Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton), March 30, 1954

Free milk distributed at Allenstown State School for the first time, March 1954. Morning Bulletin (Rockhampton), March 30, 1954

Further reading:

Myles Sinnamon – Project Coordinator. State Library of Queensland