Sambell Oration 2018 – Strong and Smart: Investing in Indigenous Children

11 April 2018

Leading educator Chris Sarra delivered this year’s Sambell Oration.


Detail of a blue, white and black painting by emerging Indigenous artist Christinaray Weetra

Education and skills open the door to a good life in Australia. But a sizeable gap persists in school participation and attainment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. What strategies will spread opportunity and improve outcomes?

In a compelling address, Chris Sarra argues low expectations and deficit thinking have for too long framed Indigenous education. Drawing on personal and professional experience, he outlines a philosophy to deliver a stronger, smarter future for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. And his approach might help unlock the potential of other Australian children.

Read Chris Sarra's paper Strong and smart: investing in Indigenous children (PDF, 116 KB)


Picture of Chris Sarra, professor of education at the University of Canberra

Chris Sarra

Chris Sarra is a professor of education at the University of Canberra. He became the first Aboriginal principal at Cherbourg State School, Queensland, in the late 1990s, making significant changes to how Indigenous students experienced education.

Growing up in Bundaberg, the youngest of 10 children, Professor Sarra faced similar challenges to his students. The strengths-based approach he developed at Cherbourg led to the formation of the Stronger Smarter Institute, which he chairs.

The institute works with schools and community leaders around Australia. Professor Sarra also co-chairs the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

His qualifications include a PhD in psychology from Murdoch University. His thesis, ‘Strong and smart – towards a pedagogy for emancipation: education for first peoples’, was developed into a book and published in 2011.


Proudly supported by:

ANZ logo

The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL) acknowledges and understands its obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and recognises that all children and young people have the right to be treated with respect and care, and to be safe from all forms of abuse. BSL has a zero tolerance towards child abuse. Read the official statement signed by the Executive Director.

Find out more about the work of the Brotherhood
Brotherhood Books
Brotherhood of St Laurence Communtiy Stores
BROCAP
Hippy Australia
Given the Chance

The Brotherhood of St Laurence acknowledges and recognises the Traditional Owners of the land upon which we live and work, and we pay our respects to their Elders both past and present.