Tasmanian Association of Laboratory Managers


Author Archive: TALM

TALM Presidents Report 2021

A Snapshot of the Regions

During 2021 the regions of North West, North and South have had one or more professional learning and social events happening.

North West TALM members have been involved in several after-school get-togethers and managed a few outings, including to The Hive in Ulverstone, which incorporates a new science centre, planetarium, craft workshop, café and art gallery. Then there was the racing of battery-powered cardboard vehicles, as mentioned in more detail by Ben Hurkett.

In the north, mid-year, Bill Hardman conducted an after-school workshop at Newstead College on creating a cheap radioactive alpha source from a smoke detector. The participants had a lot of fun during the activity and enjoyed the gourmet nibbles Karen Witt created. (More details Jo Barfield’s report).

In the July holidays, In Hobart, about 10 people came together for an afternoon at Friends’ School senior campus to look at how data loggers are used for various experiments and for a tour of the facilities. During afternoon tea members discussed that although we need technical knowledge, we also need each other’s support and the opportunity to share our experiences with each other. This was one of the motivating factors behind planning to have today’s first workshop on Positive and Constructive Problem Solving in the Workplace.

2021 Conference

The 2021 Conference in Launceston at St Patrick’s College went off with a bang… or rather the rockets we made did! The rocket-making was a great team-building activity.

On the first day we had an engaging tour of the aquaculture building of St Patrick’s College and later a virtual tour of the Tamar Estuary.

Many of the activities were focused on sustainability and lowering our carbon footprint – activities like making useful items from used plastic and hearing about the furniture re-distribution program within the University of Tasmania and there was a short session where everyone had a chance to share what carbon footprint-reducing activities they are doing at their workplaces.

On the second day, there was a workshop on owl pellet dissections. It is recommended for Grade 9 and above, partly because of the dexterity required. We identified bones, beaks, etc., to see what the owl had eaten and hence what had lived in its local habitat.

Professional Standards for School Science Laboratory Technicians.

Science Education Technicians Australia (SETA) have finalised the PSASSLT, which has just been forwarded to everyone yesterday (22/11/21). This is being made available to everyone with the proviso that it is used carefully if it is referred to in employer negotiations as the P.7 Service Factor should not be confused with full time equivalent (f.t.e. as is used in the Department of Education. It gives a general guide to appropriate training, different levels of responsibility, proposed titles depending on qualifications and experience.

Bookings and payments.

TryBooking.com booking software was introduced at the end of 2020 to assist TALM with our booking process for state-wide events such as the conference and memberships. The Treasurer and I have been very happy that this booking system has almost entirely eliminated the confusion we had been having in identifying which school had paid for whom. It has been very useful for both stand-alone membership bookings and bookings for state-wide events like this. 

Serving in the President’s role.

My first connection with TALM was 25 in 1989 when I went to a Conference in Queenstown. After 7 years interstate and in other jobs, I returned to Hobart and was re-employed as a school laboratory technician in 2004, but it took 5 years before I gained the confidence to take on any TALM executive roles.

I started with the Treasurer position in about 2009, then spent a few years at a time in other roles: Database Manager, Co-Vice President South and being on conference committees. It has been very useful to know what is involved in some key roles in the organisation, but that doesn’t mean I don’t get nervous in this new role! There’s still plenty to learn. For 16 years I did background roles and only last year got up the courage to take on the President’s role.

Two weekends ago, as a member of another volunteer organisation, I went on a weekend’s leadership training for volunteers who work in the emergency response sector. I found that very valuable, as I’ve never done any leadership-focussed training before. As was said at the beginning of that training, “It takes courage to lead”.  I plan to use some of that training in this leadership role.

My best wishes for our continued collaboration across the state, may everyone enjoy the opportunities TALM provides for both personal and professional development and all the best for the summer holidays!

Miriam McFarlane

2021 TALM President

TALM Professional Development Learning Day

Tuesday 23rd November, 2021

Ross Town Hall, 12 Bridge St, Ross


9:00 – 9:30 Registration

9.30 – 9.40  Welcome, Acknowledgement of Country and Housekeeping

9:40 -10.30 Positive and Constructive Problem Solving in the Workplace – Libby Ashlin, Workshop Facilitator.

Libby has 15 years’ experience as a school business manager including working at Taroona High School the largest state school in Tasmania, as line manager to 25 employees. She will share her philosophy on the value of team building and supportive environments and provide guidance on some of the common everyday challenges of working in a team as part of this workshop.

10.30 – 11.00  Morning Tea

11.00 – 11.30  Positive and Constructive Problem Solving continued

11.30 – 12.00  TALM Executive meeting

12.00 – 12.15   Union reports – Tanya Adams

12.15 – 12.25 Creative Engineering course report – Miriam McFarlane

12.25 – 12.45  TALM AGM (Annual General Meeting)

12.50 – 1.50  Lunch and networking opportunity at Man O’ Ross Hotel

1.50 – 2.30   Specialist Skills

  • Steam Sterilisation in a school context –
  • William Hardman Sharing of other skills by participants
  • Overview of Global Harmonised System versions 3, 7 and 9.        

2.30 – 3.30 O-Wing Planes – a STEM/STEAM Activity – Sally Williamson

Registration and Payment: https://www.trybooking.com/BVFWX

TALM Conference

The TALM Conference was held at St Patrick’s College in Launceston during the October Term Break . The conference was well attended with over 30 people attending each day. Below are some photos from the model rocket workshop. Also a TALM Tea towel was signed by everyone at the workshop on Monday.


TALM Conference

@ St Patrick’s College

Year 9 Campus, 251 Peel Street, Prospect

Monday 4th October

8:45 – 9:15 Registration

9:15 – 10:00 Aquaculture Tour

10:00 – 10:50 David Maynard Tamar River Talk ( see description)

10:50 – 11:15 Morning Tea

11:15 :12 :15 West lab

12:15 – 1:00 Recycling Walls

1 pm – 2 pm Lunch

2:00 – 4:00 pm Rocket Workshop

6:30 Conference Dinner at Rupert and Hound

Tuesday 5th October

9:00 – 10:30 am Owl Pellet Workshop

10:30 – 10:45 Morning Tea

10:45 – 11.45 am Drones in STEM 

11:45 – 12:30pm Rocket Launch

12:30 – 1:30 Lunch

1:30 – 2:45 pm DIY Plastics Workshop – Tanya Adams

2:45pm – 3:15pm   Conference Close

Program is subject to change to comply with COVID regulations.

Guest Speaker/ Workshop Details

David Maynard  Kanamaluka/Tamar Estuary

David Maynard is Senior Curator Natural Sciences at Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery. He spent over a decade diving and photographing the subtidal habitats and inhabitants of the lower Tamar estuary, and participating in a variety of research projects that have helped to understand the biotic and abiotic conditions in the estuary. David was the lead curator of the exhibition Beneath the Tamar: More Than Silt (and the accompanying book), and more recently Estuary: Below the Surface.  David will talk about the ecology of the estuary, and some of the management options proposed, from those based on science to the more fanciful.

Recycling Walls

…are banks of repurposed filing cabinets with labelled drawers for various different recyclables such as eye glasses, empty cosmetics containers, X rays, batteries, etc. This presentation is about Sustainability programs at Uni and details for recycling specific materials.


Mark Bourke will  present  a workshop on  Balance Calibration & Maintenance and Innovations & New Equipment.

Owl Pellet Workshop

Each Owl pellet is individually wrapped, heat sterilised, gamma irradiated and is safe for use within the classroom. Most birds cannot chew their food, and owls are no exception. Owl pellets are masses of undigested parts of food that owl species occasionally regurgitate. The contents of the owl pellet depends on its diet, but can include the exoskeletons of insects, indigestible plant matter, bones, fur, feathers, bills, claws, and teeth. 

Owl pellets are safe and easy for students of all ages to work with. Excellent for hands-on, enquiry-based learning, owl pellet dissection activities will excite and engage your students as they discover insights into raptor feeding habits, food webs and more

Rocket Workshop

Stewart Simpson and Andrew Hull will guide you in groups to make model rockets from dynamic science. We will launch the rockets the following day.

Drones in Stem

Dr Vahid Rahimi-Eichi is currently working both at Launceston Grammar and DOE and has a PhD in Agriculture from the University of Adelaide. He also has expertise in drone technology and will discuss how we could use drones in STEM.

DIY Plastics Workshop

Presenter Tanya Adams will cover how to recycle waste plastics on your kitchen bench: using equipment and resources available around the home you can recycle common plastic waste into some useful items of labware and household use. Learn about an international community of micro-scale plastics recycling. Note: you may like to bring some of your own equipment to participate more fully in this workshop; details to be provided.


Please help us reduce waste by bringing

  • Your work name tag
  • “Keep-cup” (re-usable cup)
  • Water bottle

COVID-19 Safety measures

The conference will be guided by the current Tasmanian Government regulations current on the day. TALM and our venues require the following:

  • Use hand sanitizer at sign in station
  • Scan the QR code at the venue on arrival each day
  • Seating will be set 1.5m apart and participants are asked to maintain this distancing whenever possible
  • Density at 1 person per 2 square meters
  • Tours will involve splitting into groups
  • Catering stations will be spread out to avoid crowding
  • Disposable gloves, alcohol wipes or individual kits will be provided for hands-on activities, as appropriate to the activity
  • Do not attend any day’s activities if you are unwell.

Registration and costs

Please register and pay by Friday 24th September. Payment is required at the time of booking (link next page).

Both days, TALM member:        $75

Both days, Non-member:           $85

One day only, TALM member: $40

One day only, Non-member:     $45

Dinner:                                          $55/person (at the Rupert and Hound)

  • Cost of the conference is exclusive of the Dinner.
  • There is an additional 50 cent booing fee charged by TryBooking.com

If your school/college administration needs to pay this (if you don’t have or aren’t able to use a corporate card for this), then please supply this information to the person booking on your behalf:

  • Names of employee(s) attending from your school/college:
  • Day(s) each will attend:
  • If you/your colleague has a dietary restriction, what that is:
  • If attending the Conference Dinner:
  • Name of employee(s) 
    • If paying for it privately

IMPORTANT: If Dinner will be paid for privately:

1. On the second page, Tickets, leave Conference Dinner off the ticket selection

2. On the Ticket Holder page: answer Yes to the “Attending Conference Dinner?

3. Pay for the dinner privately

Booking Link

Please use this link to begin the booking process https://www.trybooking.com/BSYGQ and then click the  button in the top right of the page.

Additional people can be added from the Checkout page.

Removing a duplicate can be done from here also.

2021 TALM Executive

President: Miriam McFarlane

Secretary and Database Manager: Sally Williamson

Website Manager: Andrew Hull

Treasurer: Mel Gleeson

Vice President North: Jo Barfield

Vice President North-west: Ben Hurkett

Archivist and SETA Rep: William Hardman

Immediate Past President: Coen Smit

SETA Rep: Lisa Norris

Co-Newsletter Editors: Tanya Adams and Janaya Banks

TALM Seminar

TALM is using Trybooking.com to take registrations and payments: https://www.trybooking.com/BMEVM. The cost of this event is $35. If you want to pay your 2021 membership ($30) there is an option in the booking process for this. Please check with your school or college for professional development funds and apply for leave to attend this professional development.

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The Tasmanian Association of Laboratory Managers invites you to a

PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT DAY on Monday 23rd of November 2020

9.30am – 3.30pm at Ross Town Hall, 12 Bridge St, Ross.


9.30-10am      Registration

10-10.45          Supporting the teaching of STEM in schools – Rosemary AndersonPrincipal Education Officer, Science, Department of Education.

10.45 – 11.30 An overview of Professional Standards for Australian School Science Laboratory Technicians  – William Hardman, Newstead College and Tasmanian Representative on Science Education Technicians Australia (SETA) committee.

11.30-12.30    TALM Annual General Meeting and Open Executive Meeting (All can discuss topics. Members can vote on motions.)

12.30-1.20      Lunch (provided in the hall)

1.20-2.30         Tour of the Midlands Regeneration Project – Nel Smit, Education Co-ordinator, Greening Australia

2.30                 Developing a closer link with the Science Teacher Association of Tasmania (STAT) – discussion

2.45                      Professional development initiatives TALM can develop – discussion

3.00                 AEU Branch Council report – Tanya Adams, Ulverstone Secondary College

3.10                 How to organise a combined schools chemical disposal – Maree Lawes, Launceston Christian School

3.20                 Closing ceremony

3.30                 Good bye!

Please note: there is NO WiFi at the venue.

COST $35

TO REGISTER AND PAY: https://www.trybooking.com/BMEVM  by Wednesday 18 November.

Your school probably has funds for this event, so it’s worth asking. Alternatively you can claim it on your tax return as a work-related expense.


A picture containing tea, food

Description automatically generatedAs part of the ongoing COVID 19 restrictions the Midlands Council and TALM, as part of its sustainable philosophy, request that you bring along your own drinking utensil. We will have a small supply of disposable cups and associated paraphernalia available.



STEM has been a focus in schools for a while. This session will attempt to address the questions, what has worked or hasn’t worked and secondly, what is the education sector’s position on what ought to be taught. It is intended that this session is open ended, and all participants are encouraged to contribute, as well as bring examples of student’s work along if possible.


This session will familiarise everyone with what is in the standards, which are written by technicians for technicians. The standards are intended to foster consistency of technical support throughout Australia. They articulate the status, skills and training necessary to provide effective technical support for school science programs. The standards are NOT intended to replace any existing industrial award, however the scope of the standards is to inform technicians of their obligations and to facilitate negotiations between employee and employer about skills, classification and employment conditions.

You can find the standards on SETA’s website: https://seta.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/Professional-Standards-for-Australian-School-Science-Laboratory-Technicians-July-2019-FINAL.pdf


The AGM will be held to elect office bearers for 2021. Therefore, if you are eager to seek higher office please come along. Similarly, if you are eager to avoid higher office, come along anyway to make sure you are not dragooned into a position in absentia.

The following positions will become vacant. If you would like to nominate yourself or another person, please contact Sally Williamson, Secretary, on sally.williamson(is a dancing llama)education.tas.gov.au or 6431 2744.

  • President
  • Treasurer

·         Secretary

  • VP North West
  • VP North
  • VP South
  • Newsletter Editor

Appointments (not elected):

·         (2) SETA Rep appointments

  • Database Manager
  • Website Manager
  • Archivist
  • Chair of 2021 Conference Committee


This session will take on board general concerns members may wish to bring to the Executive’s attention and will also develop an overview for the 2021 Conference and its organising committee. The option of holding executive meetings online will also be considered at this time.


This is an ongoing initiative by Greening Australia to undertake remedial work in the midlands. The midlands area has been identified as one of Australia’s 15 biodiversity “hotspots” and the midlands project is aimed at addressing the ecosystem’s degradation resulting from human activity. This project has direct links to the Australian Curriculum, year 9 Biology (Ecosystems) and year 11/12 Environmental Science and Society. This is an opportunity to familiarise yourself with this important work and to acquire additional skills to support the teaching of this subject in your respective schools.


STAT is seeking a TALM member to represent us in planning meetings for creating the next CONSTAT one-day conference on 20th March, 2021. Together we may create stronger and broader – reaching professional learning events. In this session we will look at what ways we could work in with STAT.


This session will examine the kinds of professional development members would like to see made available in future. This could feasibly include a mixture of sessions lead by members with particular expertise, as well as arranging outside providers. We will be looking at aspects such as timing, costing and minimum numbers for such initiatives.


Tanya Adams will report to AEU members on her role on Branch Council of the AEU.           


Maree Lawes will describe the process she goes through to arrange regular chemical disposals where several schools dispose of their un-wanted waste in one collection and share the cost.


Thank you’s and celebrating laboratory technicians who are retiring/retired this year.

COST $35. TO REGISTER AND PAY: https://www.trybooking.com/BMEVM  by Wednesday 18 November.

Your school probably has funds for this event, so it’s worth asking. Alternatively you can claim it on your tax return as a work-related expense.

Please note: there is NO WiFi at the venue.