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Leading Indigenous educator Chris Sarra joins UC

Amanda Jones

1 June 2016: Highly regarded Indigenous educator, former school principal and founder of the Stronger Smarter Institute Chris Sarra will join the University of Canberra as a Professor of Education.

In his role, Professor Sarra will teach and research in areas such as school leadership, Indigenous education, and educational equity in East Asia and Australia, working closely with Centenary Professor Moosung Lee.

He will also collaborate with the University's Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis (IGPA) on education and social policy research, and will develop and teach an online Masters unit on educational leadership.

Professor Sarra, who grew up in Bundaberg, Queensland and is the youngest of 10 children, became the first Aboriginal principal of Cherbourg State School in southeast Queensland in 1998. There, he significantly improved the educational and life outcomes of its students through a 'strong and smart' philosophy, which encourages students to have a positive sense of cultural identity and embrace positive community leadership.

He founded the Stronger Smarter Institute in 2005, which works with schools and community leaders across Australia to deliver the stronger smarter approach to Indigenous students.

Professor Sarra, who begins his new role today, said he was excited to be joining the University of Canberra.

"Indigenous education is at an exciting stage. Expectations of Indigenous people have changed, and I'd like to think that the stronger smarter philosophy has played a part in that," he said.

"I'm looking forward to bringing the work I have done over the past 10 years as the founder of the Stronger Smarter Institute to the University of Canberra and building on it, including designing innovative new Indigenous policy," he added.

Dean of the Faculty of Education, Science, Technology and Mathematics (ESTeM) Professor Geoffrey Riordan welcomed the appointment.

"Professor Sarra brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the University, not only in Indigenous education but in education more broadly. His work through the Stronger Smarter Institute to improve educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students is inspiring and I look forward to working with him," Professor Riordan said.

He added that Professor Sarra's appointment would assist the University of Canberra in its goal to improve tertiary education outcomes of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

"We are committed to increasing the number of Indigenous students and research-active staff at the University, and building stronger relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. Professor Sarra will play a vital role in helping us further the cause of Indigenous education, while also contributing to high-quality and important research," he added.

Professor Sarra holds a PhD in Psychology from Murdoch University with his thesis Strong and Smart- Towards a Pedagogy got Emancipation: Education for First Peoples published by Routledge in 2012. He also has a Bachelor of Education, Master of Teaching and an Executive Masters in Public Administration.

He was named Queenslander of the Year in 2004, and was Queensland's Australian of the Year in 2010. He is also an Australian Rugby League commissioner.