Paul Barker joined the Victorian Public Service (VPS) as an Administrative Officer in 1964, initially being posted to the then Education Department. He subsequently moved, on promotion, to the Department of Labour and Industry in 1969, to the Department of Youth, Sport and Recreation in 1973, and to the Forests Commission in 1982. Along with the Commission’s other staff Paul was transferred to the newly created Department of Conservation, Forests and Lands in late 1983.
In February 2001, in part due to deteriorating health, Paul retired. Four months later however he was re-hired by the Department, through an agency, as a part-time consultant. As his health continued to deteriorate, Paul finally departed the VPS in June 2003, after an almost forty-year career.
In the course of his work, Paul developed a wide-ranging knowledge and understanding of Victoria’s bureaucratic heritage, and the documents and systems that underpinned its legacy. During the latter decades of his career, and in retirement, Paul has always been ready to assist bureaucrats, students, researchers, NGOs and others wanting to draw on this valuable historical resource.
During the post-1985 era in Victoria, when departmental re-organisations became regular events, Paul was also in the frontline when it came to preserving and accessing the State’s, often threatened, documented history.
While every career is unique, Paul’s story is in many ways typical of the hundreds of non-technical staff who made major contributions during the 20 th century to advances in the care and management of the State’s ‘wild’ lands.