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Donald Hamilton Tribolet (1897–1980)

by David Dilger

This article was published:

Donald Hamilton Tribolet (1897-1980), educationist, was born on 4 November 1897 at South Bridgewater (Granton), Tasmania, third child of Walter Tribolet, a fruit-grower from Victoria, and his wife Isabella, née Walker. Educated at Bridgewater State School, Donald began his career at the Philip Smith Training College, Hobart, in 1912 and was subsequently posted as a demonstration teacher to Wellington Square Practising School, Launceston. He enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 7 December 1917, joined the 1st Divisional Signal company in France four days before the Armistice, and was discharged from the army on 30 June 1919 in Hobart. Resuming teaching, at Charles Street State School, Launceston, he studied part time at the University of Tasmania (B.A., 1924). On 20 December 1924 he married Marjorie Ethel Smith at St Luke's Church of England, Campbell Town.

Head teacher at Glenorchy (1925) and Branxholm (1925-27) State schools, Tribolet became assistant-master of method at the Training College, Hobart, in 1927. He was head teacher at Macquarie Street State School (1930-34), and master of method at the practising schools at Devonport (1935-40) and Elizabeth Street, Hobart (1941). On 23 August 1941 he was commissioned in the Royal Australian Air Force and appointed to the Administrative and Special Duties Branch. He served with Royal Air Force units in the Middle East, carrying out administrative and educational duties, and rising to temporary squadron leader (1943). His R.A.A.F. appointment terminated in Australia on 13 November 1944. Back in Tasmania, he returned to his former department as an education officer.

In 1946, when the State government extended the compulsory school leaving age from 14 to 16, Tribolet was seconded to 'organize and arrange details'. The change led to a large increase in enrolments and a shortage of teachers. In 1947 Tribolet set up an emergency training centre at Launceston to provide one-year courses for primary and infant teachers. He was appointed acting-secretary for education in 1950, deputy-director of education in 1951 and director of education in 1952.

Tribolet toured Britain and the United States of America in 1955 to study secondary education. His report recommended the establishment of experimental comprehensive high schools and he oversaw their introduction, beginning in 1956. His concern for the professional standing and welfare of teachers resulted in improvements in their salaries and conditions. In 1960 the Federal government's Office of Education selected him to lead a mission to Commonwealth countries in East Africa and to advise how Australia could best assist education there. Tribolet retired in 1962. The State minister for education, W. E. Neilson, observed that his direction of Tasmanian education had shown 'foresight, energy and skill that could only be described as brilliant'. That year Tribolet was elected a fellow of the Australian College of Education. In 1962-70 he served as secretary of the Tasmanian branch of the Liberal Party of Australia. Survived by his wife and their three daughters, he died on 7 October 1980 in Hobart and was cremated.

Select Bibliography

  • E. Fist, Gladly Teach (Hob, 1993)
  • Educational Record, 15 Aug 1946
  • Tasmanian Education, Dec 1955
  • Mercury (Hobart), 15 Sept 1960, 23 Dec 1961, 17 Feb 1962, 9 Oct 1980
  • Department of Education (Tasmania), staff file, ED 190/58 (Archives Office of Tasmania).

Citation details

David Dilger, 'Tribolet, Donald Hamilton (1897–1980)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2002, accessed online 21 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 16, (Melbourne University Press), 2002

View the front pages for Volume 16

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