Good accounting helps NSW school offer better education

This CPA has helped transform a Wagga Wagga paddock into one of the region’s leading secondary schools.

Take one cursory glance at Andrew Bowcher’s CV and marvel at his capacity to extend himself. A very active member of the Riverina community in south-western New South Wales, Bowcher’s schedule is jam-packed with activities, meetings and appointments.

“Over generations, my whole family has always been community driven,” he explains.

“You can’t stand on the sidelines and complain. It’s important to get in there and do something, and I believe if you give freely, you get it back tenfold.”

A partner and insolvency expert at RSM Australia’s Wagga Wagga office, Bowcher was a member of the steering committee that created Albury Wodonga Health in 2009 – the first cross-border health agreement in Australia. 

Alongside this sizeable achievement, Bowcher continues to act as chairperson of The Riverina Anglican College (TRAC) board.

In 1999, TRAC opened for business as a secondary school with one principal, three part-time teachers and a grand total of 25 students, all in year seven. Today, 546 girls and boys are enrolled for years seven to 12. Importantly, the school is considered one of the region’s leading academic, sporting and cultural choices.

Bowcher joined the board in 2000 to provide financial oversight for a school that was dreaming big. Open to all denominations, TRAC offers quality education with a purposefully low-fee structure underpinning it. 

“It’s important to get in there and do something, and I believe if you give freely, you get it back tenfold.”

Andrew BowcherAs chairperson of the board, Bowcher is directed by the local diocese to implement programs encouraging leadership. “In the beginning, we were a board of management,” he explains. “We had to quickly build classrooms and attract staff and students. 

“I believe we’ve lifted the standard of education in the area, and now we have waiting lists to deal with. Today, we have to be more strategic in our outlook and we’re asking ourselves how we can innovate. Like everything, the idea is to leave a better footprint, a better service and a better delivery.”

In 2015, local solicitor Matthew Dombrovski was the first ex-student to join the board, in what Bowcher describes as “a proud day for the college”. This year, Bowcher’s eldest daughter started her secondary school journey at TRAC.

“It’s the ethos of the diocese to create leaders, and the joy is watching students work hard, achieve personal goals that were a dream and develop into leaders,” says Bowcher. 

“I get special joy out of speaking to parents who are thankful for the school’s involvement in their child’s development.”

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Bowcher says the school encourages its students to broaden their horizons once they’ve finished their secondary education.

“The idea is that we’d like our kids to leave Wagga, experience the world and then, when they feel comfortable, return.”

Success outside the classroom

As well as its academic success, The Riverina Anglican College has produced its fair share of triumphs in the sporting arena.

The school is particularly proud of its 2013 victory in the prestigious Carroll Cup, a local Australian Rules football competition.

Awarded best player in the final, Dougal Howard now plays for Port Adelaide in the Australian Football League.

Read next: Jason Gaudoin CPA uses his pro hockey past to develop youth

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June 2016
June 2016

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