MEDIA RELEASE: Dramatic paradigm shift needed in Indigenous affairs

by on May, Tue, 2016 in News, Stronger Smarter News | 2 comments

Media Release



10 May 2016

The Stronger Smarter Institute’s Chairperson Dr Chris Sarra is calling on all parties to reconsider their approach to Indigenous education and broader Indigenous policy.

“A dramatic paradigm shift in the Federal Government’s approach to Indigenous policy is needed.” said Dr Sarra. He reiterates his sentiments endorsed earlier this year in Federal parliament by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that politicians should, “Do things with Indigenous people and not to us.”

He says instead of spending millions of dollars on a big stick approach that threatens the welfare payments of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families, governments should acknowledge that Indigenous parents value education, like all other Australian families, and put money into providing schools that are worth turning up to.

He says there are 3 key considerations for our future government that will show us that Australia values and acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ humanity, our diverse cultures and our unique place in the nation as its first peoples with 60,000 years plus of inherited knowledge of this country.

  1. Acknowledge, embrace and celebrate the humanity of Indigenous Australia
  2. Bring us policies that nurture a sense of hope not despair
  3. Do things with us not to us

Specifically, in education Dr Sarra says, an example of doing things with people not to them, is committing to a promise of delivering minimum standards or better for literacy and numeracy on NAPLAN benchmarks for years 3,5,7 and 9 for all Indigenous children with attendance rates of 85% or more.

We should also be bold and innovative to contemplate to provide a guaranteed service outcome for all Indigenous children who complete year 12 with better than 85% attendance. This could include a job, a place in training or a place at university. A good example here is the Indigenous Rangers Program.

“This is an example of doing things with people not to them in a high expectations relationship,” said Dr Sarra.


Dr Sarra is available today. For interviews please contact:

Nancia Guivarra

0402 107 042


About Dr Chris Sarra, Stronger Smarter Chairman

Dr Chris Sarra is the founder and Chairman of the Stronger Smarter Institute. He grew up in Bundaberg in Queensland and is the youngest of ten children. Chris experienced firsthand many of the issues faced by Indigenous students throughout their schooling. Encouraged and supported by some teachers and mentors, he successfully completed a Diploma of Teaching, a Bachelor of Education and Master of Education and a PhD in Psychology with Murdoch University. He has also completed an Executive Masters in Public Administration with the Australia New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG). His published thesis is titled Strong and Smart – Towards a Pedagogy for Emancipation Education for First Peoples. In the late 1990s Chris took on the challenges of Indigenous education as Principal of Cherbourg State School in South East Queensland. Under Chris’ leadership the school became nationally acclaimed for its pursuit of the Stronger Smarter philosophy, which significantly improved the educational, and life outcomes of its students.


  1. Like your thoughts
    Cant say I have faith in the Government

  2. HI Chris Sarra

    We met at Toowoomba in 1998 after Gracelyn Smallwood invited me to the Pathways conference. WE met aagain in South Arica when you had lunch with me and David Fig – and we found each other familiar! Two weeks ago an occupational therapist from South Africa who wants to work with indigenous people – probably the Khomani San or the Khe and XU came to me to explore issues. I told her that the health inputs at the Pathways conference were excellent and that I thought Australia is streets ahead of us in addressing health issues of indigenous people. I wonder if you can perhaps ask someone who knows more about this to connect with me. Or you can just give me a name and then I will connect her to those people. Roshan Isaacs is her name. I am retired now so my links are very rusty. Congratualtions on your achievements – you are a rolemodel of note to indigenous people all over the world!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *