Chair’s Message

Mrs Karen Spiller, AHISA’s National Chair

On behalf of my colleagues in schools across the nation and our staff in the National Office in Canberra, I warmly welcome you to the website of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools of Australia (AHISA).

Our Association represents the Heads of 440 independent schools in Australia. These communities comprise some 426,000 students and 55,000 staff and have the support of hundreds of thousands of Australian parents who choose to send their children to our members’ schools. It is a tremendous vote of support for the high quality of educational leadership demonstrated by our members.

AHISA is a membership organisation that was formed in 1985 from the amalgamation of the Association of Heads of Independent Girls’ Schools of Australia and the Headmasters’ Conference of Independent Schools of Australia. Since that time, as independent schools across Australia have grown both in number and enrolment, so has AHISA. We now have members who lead schools of many faiths and those that are non-denominational; schools that are large and those that are small; schools in Alice Springs and Kirribilli; schools that have recently opened in a response to community desire and need; and schools that are over a 100 years old.

What is common about and across all these schools is that they are focused on providing safe and happy environments for our young people in which they can grow, explore and learn.

Our Association is committed to speaking on behalf of autonomous school Principals to governments, parliamentarians and senators and to government and non-government agencies and organisations. We also represent our members nationally and internationally in various education forums. School education and therefore the quality of its leadership is a matter of national importance, and there is much that we can contribute and advise.

We are also focussed on developing the school leaders of the future as well as supporting all current members in the leadership of Australian independent schools.

Finally, as a members’ association, we are committed to supporting our colleagues through the warmth and generous manner of our collegiality and our respectful relations with each other.

Karen Spiller


Karen Spiller_web_4945About Karen Spiller


Karen has had teaching and leadership experience in both girls’ and co-educational Anglican schools for over 30 years. She has been Principal at St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School for seventeen years.

Karen is the National Chair of the Association of Heads of Independent Schools Australia  and has been a member of the Board for nine years and has also held the position of Treasurer. She is also Vice-President of Independent Schools Queensland, a member of the International Education and Training Advisory Group (IETAG) for the Queensland Government and a member of the Yalari Board.

Karen was a finalist for Not for Profit Manager of the Year (Brisbane) for the 2010 AIM Management Excellence Awards.  Also in 2010 she was recognised with the National Award for Excellence in School Music Education 2010: Excellence by a School Leader by the Federal Government. In 2010 and 2011 she was a finalist in the EOWA Employer of Choice for Women Business Achievements Awards in the category of Leading CEO for the Advancement of Women.

In 2011 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship “To examine strategies for preparing female leaders for the position of Principalship in Australian Schools” and travelled to the United Kingdom and United States for this study. In 2013 Karen was awarded Fellow of “The CEO Institute” and appointed as a Fellow of Bond University. She supports QUT through their CEO advisory group to the Business Faculty and was recently awarded a Paul Harris Fellowship by Rotary International.