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Brisbane Adventist College campus with the secondary school on the left and the primary school on the right.

Photo courtesy of Luke Martin.

Brisbane Adventist College, Australia

By Debbie Cosier


Debbie Cosier, M. Ed. (Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia). A former teacher, Debbie currently works at Brisbane Adventist College in marketing and communications. She has published articles in Adventist Today, Sydney Morning Herald (national paper), and a variety of other publications.

First Published: January 28, 2020 | Last Updated: January 23, 2024

Brisbane Adventist College is a co-educational school offering all grades of primary and secondary education. It is located at 303A Broadwater Road, Mansfield, Queensland, Australia. In its annual report for the calendar year 2023, it reported a total enrollment of 575 students and a teaching staff of 51.1

Early Schools in Brisbane’s South

The first school on Brisbane’s south side commenced in 1901.2 The second school was started by the South Brisbane church on property adjoining the church in 1924.3 Both of these ventures failed. By 1966, however, there were six Seventh-day Adventist congregations in Brisbane’s south, all willing to support an Adventist school.

Establishing the Primary school

The South Queensland Conference purchased 3.64 hectares at 303A Broadwater Road, Mansfield. Adventist builder-architect Evan Coulston drew up plans for a three-classroom school with an additional library and administration office.4 Savings were made when Adventist church members volunteered to help build the school, and this willingness to make personal sacrifices became the dominant force behind the school’s financial stability and rapid growth. Southside Adventist Primary School was dedicated on February 6, 1966, with an official enrolment of 85 students. Alex Lowe was headmaster and assisted teachers Gem Blank and M. Gibbons with delivering the curriculum.5 Over 400 people attended the official opening with television, press, and radio reporters also in attendance.6 The officiating party included Pastor David Sibly and Dr. Geoffrey Rosenhain from the Trans-Tasmin Union Conference, and pastors Keith Parmenter and Oliver Twist, president and secretary-treasurer of the Queensland Conference. Dr. Rosenhain, who gave the official address, remarked that “true religion is concerned with the development of the whole man, physical, mental and spiritual; therefore, it is impossible to separate education from religion.”7

While the first school board meeting recorded the school’s official name as “The Adventist Church School, Mount Gravatt,” it was shortened to “Mount Gravatt Church School” in 1967 and became “Mount Gravatt Seventh-day Adventist Primary” until the high school opened in 1973 as “Brisbane Adventist High School.” In 1999, the primary and secondary campuses amalgamated and became “Brisbane Adventist College.”

The primary school experienced rapid growth. By 1967, enrollment had risen to 105 students and by 1968, 150 students. Within three years, there were five staff members. By 1972, school enrollment exceeded 200 students and two classrooms were added.

A High School (1973)

Although the high school occupied space on the same campus as the primary school, it was a separate entity, with its own school board and home and school association. As the only Adventist high school in southeast Queensland at the time, it drew students from all over Brisbane and the surrounding area, including Adventist primary schools in Ipswich, Pine Rivers, the Gold Coast, and Mount Gravatt.

The high school opened as a single temporary demountable (modular or portable) classroom at the rear of the primary school in 1973, with staff consisting of principal Desmond Cooke (science and math teacher) and Carolyn Timms (humanities teacher). On the first day of school, thirty-four Year 8 students filled the demountable classroom to capacity.8 An additional demountable classroom was added the next year.

The new secondary school buildings on Wishart Road were ready for the 1976 school year.9 It consisted of four classrooms, a staff room, a science laboratory, a library, a typing room, a manual arts workshop, home economics classroom, and administrative office.10 Growth demanded more expansion and eight more general classrooms on the eastern end of the original block were officially opened mid-1978.11 (Another five classrooms and two music studios at the primary school opened at the same time.12)

By 1977, Brisbane Adventist High School’s first class of Year 12 students graduated and a second stream of students from Years 8 to 10 were added. Enrollments rose to over 200 by 1979.13

The Primary School (1980-1989)

In 1981, Cyril Hill assumed principalship and administered the primary school until 1984. The 1980s were years of consolidation. Several large second-hand buses became the school fleet. Other changes included incorporating the verandas facing Broadwater Road into classrooms for increased teaching space. The veranda facing Broadwater Road was added to existing classrooms to create increased teaching space.14

Phillip Lomman became principal in 1985. He focused on developing the school grounds and the uniform as a means of growing school pride. Denise Morton, the first learning support teacher, was appointed in 1988.15

During this time, Seventh-day Adventist Education in the South Pacific introduced school accreditation processes, the first time the school faced stringent assessment from both internal and external bodies. Their hard work paid off, however, and the school was granted the maximum accreditation of five years.16

The Secondary School (1980-1989)

Keith Dickens was principal of Brisbane Adventist High School from 1980 to 1982. During Dickens’ tenure, the manual arts building was completed, including a dedicated workshop space for woodwork, metalwork, and automotive studies, and an adjoining graphics classroom.17 High school enrollment of 260 was reported in 1981 and employed a staff of fifteen teachers. It was said to be the second largest Adventist high school in Australia.18

Due to ill health, Dickens’ tenure as school principal ended prematurely and Barry Wright was asked to fill the position in 1983. During his nine-year tenure as secondary principal, Wright lifted the profile of the school by hiring the Chandler Sports Stadium for the annual concert.19 He supported initiatives to form a concert band and choirs, quartets, and the handbell choir (1984-1988). The handbell choir visited Vanuatu, raising $5000 for cyclone relief there.20 It also performed at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Expo 88, and twice on Channel 7 television.21 The handbell choir also produced and sold audio cassettes of their performances.22

Under Wright’s leadership, the spiritual and cultural aims of the school were further bolstered when concerts transitioned from mostly secular affairs to concerts with secular and sacred sections. Eventually, the events became full sacred concerts with Friday evening vespers programs that saw 800-1000 people in attendance.23

The 1980s also saw the introduction of other cultural programs, such as the first Year 12 trip to Avondale College and Sydney, and several other new, meaningful traditions for graduates.24 Secondary students were encouraged to be involved in annual appeals for ADRA, Cancer Council, and Red Shield. In 1984, Asian Aid, an initiative of English teacher, Rob Peters, was strongly supported by students and staff.25 In 1989, the Duke of Edinburgh Award was introduced, placing emphasis on personal and team challenges, and community service, thus leading to personal growth and character development.26

On May 18, 1986, a new high-set secondary administration block was constructed with offices, a staffroom, a reception area, a sick bay, and amenities on the top level, and a canteen and general-purpose space below.27 A new two-story building housing a library on the top level and an art room and audio-visual theater beneath was opened in May 1990.28

The Primary School (1990-1999)

Peter Michalski was appointed principal of the primary school in 1989 and lead the school for nine years.29 These years were characterized by growth in student numbers, expansion of the physical plant, curriculum development, and commendable academic achievement.30

In December 1994, a library was also opened in the primary school and under this was an early childhood center.31 A preschool and day care center was opened in February 1995.32 Michalski also put his efforts into addressing students’ special needs. He established an English as a Second Language Department as well as a Special Needs Unit for students at each end of the learning spectrum—gifted and those with learning disabilities or remedial needs—by tapping into external funding.33

In 1998, Gary Greenland took over the role of primary school principal. In a tenure that saw the amalgamation of the two schools, he focused staff attention on key learning areas, ensuring that numeracy and literacy were taught in the mornings when students were freshest.34

The Secondary School (1990-1999)

The late 1980s and early 1990s saw the following pastors serve as school chaplains: Pastor Ken Martin, Pastor Keith Miller (1985 to 1987), Pastor David Jack (1991), and Pastor Greg Harker and Jerry Unser (1992 to 1995), and Peter Rowney.35 The chaplaincy role provided personal and spiritual support for students, student families, and staff; guidance counselling; and facilitated the spiritual program for the school, including the annual week of spiritual emphasis, now known as WOW (Week of Worship), featuring special guest speakers for both primary and high schools.36

During his time as chaplain, Jerry Unser established a student community service initiative called SWAMP (Students with a Missionary Purpose). Later renamed STORMCo (Service to Others Really Matters), it involved teams of students and staff volunteering their time and raising money for community projects. Characterized by strict discipline and hard work, their goal was to “live out the legacy of service modelled by Jesus Christ,” said Unser. This community service model is now utilized by Adventist schools and youth groups around the globe.37

Following Barry Wright’s tenure, Brian Robinson became principal of the secondary school in 1992, remaining there until the end of 1994.38 He implemented a Japanese language program and developed a relationship with sister school Shirakawa Junior High School in Japan, which resulted in an exchange program and an emerging tradition of welcoming students and visitors from other cultures to the school.39

It was under Robinson that the school first ventured into the technological age, establishing a dial-up internet connection and a basic school website. With assistance from the Commonwealth Government, Robinson installed a local server, set up a computer network, and improved access through optic cable. He set up two computer labs and updated the school’s curriculum to suit.

While there had been a small concrete ramp over Bulimba Creek facilitating high school students with access to the primary school’s athletic facilities since the 1980s, Robinson replaced it with a more elaborate pedestrian walkway. The improved walkway created a more tangible link between the secondary and primary schools, furthering the idea that the schools should become one college.40 Around this time, the seed was planted for a school assembly building that could be used by both schools, separately and as a whole.41

The first official school reunion was held August 31, 1991, and was attended by approximately 400 students.42

The Emergence of Brisbane Adventist College

In 1997, a commission for the future of Adventist education in the area recommended that the separate campuses merge into one college. ‘Brisbane Adventist College’ would include an early education center, primary school, and high school, all under a single administration. A committee was formed to develop a structure for the new college and a process for the transition.43

Arnold C. Reye, who had come back from retirement the year before, agreed to oversee the implementation. Thus, the 1999 school year commenced with the new Brisbane Adventist College brand in place and the administrative staff reorganized. Carolyn Barnett was head of the early learning center, Gary Greenland was primary head of school, and Graham Baird was secondary head of school.44 With accreditation for the college looming, leaders in teaching and learning were forced to consider what best practice would look like for their new union. Ultimately, the college was awarded the maximum term for accreditation (five years).45

Brisbane Adventist College in the New Millennium

In October 2000, it was reported that Brisbane Adventist College was the largest Seventh-day Adventist School in the South Pacific Division. It had an enrollment of 672 on primary and secondary campuses, with sixty-six in the pre-school and day care.46 The increasing enrollment called for the construction of a student center, between the primary and secondary campuses, assisting in the perception of the college as being one school. The $2.3 million project included a combined meeting hall, gymnasium, teacher offices, amenities, and a kitchen.47 Two classrooms and viewing platform existed at a mezzanine level, while a music classroom, music studios, and storage areas were housed beneath. The center was opened by federal member Kevin Rudd, who later became Australian Prime Minister.48

In 2006, Jack Ryan was appointed principal. He focused on the continued integration of all departments into a one-school model. He rebranded the college and reimagined its purpose statement, which became “the BAC Way.” This document articulated the behaviors and desired culture of the college.49 Buildings were painted a single-color scheme to visually unify the college. A new Prep to Year 12 uniform was rolled out in 2011.50

Under Ryan, negotiations for the new Mount Gravatt Adventist Church (and College Chapel) also proceeded. The church would be used by a congregation on weekends and by the college during the week. Builder Stuart Hemsley was influential in the process.51

During Ryan’s years, two prep classrooms and a staffroom were also constructed down the hill from the main administration building, the Primary Learning Resource Center, primary Block A classrooms and two secondary science laboratories were refurbished. A student one-to-one laptop program commenced for students in Years 7 to 12, and interactive whiteboards contributed to 21st Century teaching and learning across the college.52 Ryan supported more community service options, including a biennial SonShip trip to the Solomon Islands,53 run by science teacher Clinton Jackson, and introduced the STARS program in 2011, which focused on adolescent social-emotional development.54

With Ryan’s appointment to the South Queensland Conference as education director in 2015, Leanne Entermann from Ipswich Adventist School was invited to take up the leadership at Brisbane Adventist College. From 2015 to 2021, she raised the spiritual, academic, and social culture55 across the college; developed supportive networks with local churches; and grew the school at a time when people widely believed state education was just as good as private education.

Entermann introduces a new model for learning collaboration, the Professional Learning Community (PLC), which prioritized sharing and a critical interrogation of professional practices, professional development and support for teachers, as well as the symbiotic learning relationship between teachers and students. This provided a strong foundation for a response to the dramatic new developments in the Queensland Certificate of Education (QCE).56 Commencing with a transition period in 2019, the new QCE required a significant overhaul of curriculum and assessment in senior education.

Along with the second decade of the 21st century came a growing need for schools to focus on relationships and the social-emotional wellbeing of students.57 In response, Entermann introduced Restorative Practices, an evidence-based student management system that moves away from traditional punitive principles and practices and instead focuses on maintaining healthy relationships and constructively repairing damaged ones. To support the students’ social-emotional welfare, she extended the Student Wellbeing Team (SWoT) to include two full-time and one part-time chaplain and one counsellor who worked closely with the Restorative Practices Team of teachers.58

During her tenure, Entermann also introduced the annual Principal's Prayer Breakfast,59 inviting ministers and elders of local churches to become partners in the school’s ministry to students and staff. “Like the early founders of Adventist education, I believe our job is to develop the whole person for the whole of existence possible…. I have confidence in the original vision that has now sustained Adventist Education for over 150 years. This is a special kind of education, offering something uniquely valuable for people facing a complex and uncertain 21st century,” said Entermann in a recent principal’s blog entitled Charting Course: Adventist Education in the 21st Century?60

The Principals

Mt. Gravatt Adventist Primary School: Alex W. Lowe, (1966-1972); Wal Dawson (1973-1975); Irwin G. Low (1976-1980); Cyril J. Hill (1981-1984); Phillip D. Lomman (1985-1988); Peter Michalski (1989-1997); Gary Greenland (1998).

Brisbane Adventist High School: Desmond J. Cooke (1973-1979); Keith R. Dickins (1980-1982); Barry J. Wright (1983-1991); Brian L. Robinson (1992-1997).

Brisbane Adventist College: Arnold C. Reye (1999); Gavin R. Williams (2000-2005); Jack Ryan (2006-2014); Leanne Entermann (2015-2021); Peter Charleson (2022-current).

Brisbane Adventist College, Primary: Gary Greenland (1999-2005); Sherry Hattingh (2006-2010); Heidi Mazz (2011-2014); Karl Webber (2015); Damon Quick (2015-current).

Brisbane Adventist College, Secondary: Graham Baird (1999-2004); Robert Wareham (2005-2006); Rodney Cassie (2007); Bruce Dever (2008-current).


Adair, A. L. E. “Avondale, Here We Come; There we Go.” Australasian Record, April 3, 1978.

“Annual Statistical Report for The General Conference: 2017.” Office of the Education Director, South Pacific Division, Wahroonga, New South Wales, Australia.

“Appointments.” Record [South Pacific Division], January 25, 1982.

“BAC Is the Biggest.” Record [South Pacific Division], October 21, 2000.

“BAHS Reunion.” Record [South Pacific Division], June 8, 1991.

“Bell Choir Tour Makes Music and Money.” South Pacific Record, June 4, 1988.

“Brisbane Adventist Schools.” Australasian Record, June 12, 1978.

“Brisbane High Opened.” South Pacific Record, July 19, 1986.

“Brisbane Students Bike for Bibles.” South Pacific Record, November 26, 1988.

Cosier, Debbie. “Adventist School Gets Top Marks for Kindness.” Record, April 6, 2019.

Dickens, K. R. “New Manual Arts Complex.” Australasian Record, September 25, 1982.

Garne, Geoffrey. “Exciting Things in the Sunshine State.” Australasian Record, November 30, 1981.

“Golden Moment at Government House.” Record [South Pacific Division], October 28, 2000.

“Group Leader/Assistant Director.” Record [South Pacific Division], February 18, 1995.

“Handbell Choir Performs at Australia Day Concert.” South Pacific Record, March 28, 1987.

Hughes, Lionel R. “High Day for Brisbane High.” Australasian Record, May 10, 1976.

Jackson, Clinton. “Students Experience Answers to Prayers.” Record [South Pacific Division], August 20, 2011.

“Kids Fight Cancer.” South Pacific Record, November 26, 1988.

Lindsay, Deirdre. “Journey of Discovery.” Australasian Record, December 23, 1985.

Lipkovich, Yasmin. “A Great Idea!” Australasian Record, July 21, 1984.

“Medal Win for Perfect Score.” Record [South Pacific Division], January 18, 1997.

“New Centre for Brisbane College.” Record [South Pacific Division], September 20, 2003.

“New Facilities Opened at Brisbane School.” South Pacific Record, June 16, 1990.

“Principal’s Charting Course blog: Charting Course for Changes Ahead.” Brisbane Adventist College. 2019. Accessed January 23, 2024,

“Principal’s Charting Course blog: Charting Course to Dealing with Bullying.” Brisbane Adventist College, 2019. Accessed January 23, 2024,

“Principal’s Charting Course blog: Charting Course to Holistic Educating.” Brisbane Adventist College, 2019. Accessed January 23, 2024.

“Progress of the Cause and the Object of Annual Offerings.” Union Conference Record, June 1, 1901.

“Qld Handbell Choir Rings Gospel Bells.” South Pacific Record, September 19, 1987.

Reye, Arnold C. Brisbane Adventist College: A Short History. Brisbane: Brisbane Adventist College, 2011.

“Sacred Bells.” South Pacific Record, November 7, 1987.

“Social-emotional Literacy.” Brisbane Adventist College, 2019. Accessed January 23, 2024,

Stewart, M. M. “New $40,000 Southside School in Brisbane.” Australasian Record, February 6, 1966.

“Student Fundraisers.” South Pacific Record, October 18, 1986.

“Teachers.” Record [South Pacific Division], January 14, 1989.

“Two Ministers Ordained in South Qld.” Record [South Pacific Division], June 1, 1991.

We have to congratulate the South Brisbane Church...” Australasian Record, March 31, 1924.

Wright, B. J. “Success in Brisbane.” South Pacific Record, April 26, 1986.

Wright, B. J. “The King Is Coming.” Australasian Record, July 27, 1985.

“Youth Minister Ordained.” Record, May 23, 1998.


  1. Student enrolments (575) [, accessed Jan 12, 2024]. Teaching staff (51) [, accessed Jan 12, 2024].

  2. “Progress of the Cause and the Object of Annual Offerings,” Union Conference Record, June 1, 1901, 9.

  3. We have to congratulate the South Brisbane Church...,” Australasian Record, March 31, 1924, 6.

  4. M. M. Stewart, “New $40,000 Southside School in Brisbane,” Australasian Record, February 6, 1966.

  5. Ibid.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Ibid.

  8. Lionel R. Hughes, “High Day for Brisbane High,” Australasian Record, May 10, 1976, 10.

  9. Ibid.

  10. Ibid.

  11. Desmond Cooke, email to editor, November 29, 2019.

  12. “Brisbane Adventist Schools,” Australasian Record, June 12, 1978, 15.

  13. A. L. E. Adair, “Avondale, Here We Come; There we Go,” Australasian Record, April 3, 1978, 1.

  14. Arnold C. Reye, Brisbane Adventist College: A Short History (Brisbane: Brisbane Adventist College, 2011), 15.

  15. Ibid. 16.

  16. Ibid. 17.

  17. K. R. Dickens, “New Manual Arts Complex,” Australasian Record, September 25, 1982, 4.

  18. Geoffrey Garne, “Exciting Things in the Sunshine State,” Australasian Record, November 30, 1981, 8.

  19. B. J. Wright, “The King Is Coming,” Australasian Record, July 27, 1985, 4.

  20. “Bell Choir Tour Makes Music and Money,” South Pacific Record, June 4, 1988, 13; “Qld Handbell Choir Rings Gospel Bells,” South Pacific Record, September 19, 1987, 12.

  21. Ibid.; “Handbell Choir Performs at Australia Day Concert,” South Pacific Record, March 28, 1987, 10.

  22. “Sacred Bells,” South Pacific Record, November 7, 1987, 15.

  23. Barry Wright, interview with author, November 2019.

  24. Deirdre Lindsay, “Journey of Discovery,” Australasian Record, December 23, 1985, 1.

  25. Yasmin Lipkovich, “A Great Idea!” Australasian Record, July 21, 1984, 10; “Kids Fight Cancer,” South Pacific Record, November 26, 1988, 9; “Brisbane Students Bike for Bibles,” South Pacific Record, November 26, 1988, 8; “Student Fundraisers,” South Pacific Record, October 18, 1986, 16.

  26. “Golden Moment at Government House,” Record, October 28, 2000, 2; Arnold C. Reye, Brisbane Adventist College: A Short History (Brisbane: Brisbane Adventist College, 2011), 15.

  27. B. J. Wright, “Success in Brisbane,” South Pacific Record, April 26, 1986, 13; “Brisbane High Opened,” South Pacific Record, July 19, 1986, 4.

  28. “New Facilities Opened at Brisbane School,” South Pacific Record, June 16, 1990, 9.

  29. “Teachers,” Record, January 14, 1989, 12.

  30. Arnold C. Reye, Brisbane Adventist College: A Short History (Brisbane: Brisbane Adventist College, 2011), 24; “Medal Win for Perfect Score,” Record, January 18, 1997, 11.

  31. Ibid., 23.

  32. “Group Leader/Assistant Director,” Record [South Pacific Division], February 18, 1995, 15.

  33. Ibid., 23, 24.

  34. Ibid., 25.

  35. “Youth Minister Ordained,” Record [South Pacific Division], May 23, 1998, 4.

  36. For example, see “BAHS Reunion,” Record [South Pacific Division], June 8, 1991, 12.

  37. Wayne French, “STORM-Co, South Pacific Division,” Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists, January 29, 2020, accessed January 23, 2023,

  38. “Appointments,” Record [South Pacific Division], January 25, 1982, 8.

  39. Arnold C. Reye, Brisbane Adventist College: A Short History (Brisbane: Brisbane Adventist College, 2011).

  40. Ibid., 27-28.

  41. Ibid., 30.

  42. “BAHS Reunion,” Record [South Pacific Division], June 8, 1991, 12.

  43. Arnold C. Reye, Brisbane Adventist College: A Short History (Brisbane: Brisbane Adventist College, 2011), 28.

  44. Ibid., 29.

  45. Ibid., 30.

  46. “BAC Is the Biggest,” Record [South Pacific Division], October 21, 2000, 7.

  47. “New Centre for Brisbane College,” Record [South Pacific Division], September 20, 2003, 4.

  48. Arnold C. Reye, Brisbane Adventist College: A Short History (Brisbane: Brisbane Adventist College, 2011), 31.

  49. Ibid., 34.

  50. Ibid.

  51. Ibid.

  52. Ibid., 35.

  53. Clinton Jackson and Jarrod Cherry, “Adventist Students Help Restore Solomon Islands Landmark,” Adventist Review, July 28, 2018, accessed January 23, 2024,

  54. Clinton Jackson, “Students Experience Answers to Prayers,” Record [South Pacific Division], August 20, 2011, 3; “Social-emotional Literacy,” Brisbane Adventist College, 2019, accessed January 23, 2024,

  55. See, Leanne Entermann, “Charting Course by Focusing on Our Graduallies,” Adventist Educators blog, August 4, 2017, accessed January 23, 2024,

  56. “Principal’s Charting Course blog: Charting Course for Changes Ahead,” Brisbane Adventist College, 2019, accessed January 23, 2024,

  57. Debbie Cosier, “Adventist School Gets Top Marks for Kindness,” Brisbane Adventist College, 2019, Record [South Pacific Division], April 6, 2019, 7; “Principal’s Charting Course blog: Charting Course to Holistic Educating,” Brisbane Adventist College, 2019, accessed January 23, 2024.

  58. “Principal’s Charting Course blog: Charting Course to Dealing with Bullying,” Brisbane Adventist College, 2019, accessed January 23, 2024,

  59. Ibid.

  60. “Principal’s Charting Course blog: Charting Course to Holistic Educating,” Brisbane Adventist College, 2019, accessed January 23, 2024,


Cosier, Debbie. "Brisbane Adventist College, Australia." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 23, 2024. Accessed February 27, 2024.

Cosier, Debbie. "Brisbane Adventist College, Australia." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 23, 2024. Date of access February 27, 2024,

Cosier, Debbie (2024, January 23). Brisbane Adventist College, Australia. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved February 27, 2024,