Dr Chris Sarra
Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
Faculty: Expert contributors
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Dr Chris Sarra is a proud Gurang Gurang / Taribelang man from Bundaberg, driven by a dream for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, families and communities to be able to thrive.
The youngest of 10 children, he became the first Aboriginal principal of Cherbourg State School in southeast Queensland in 1998, where he significantly improved the educational and life outcomes of students. He did this through a ‘strong and smart’ philosophy, which encourages students to have a positive sense of cultural identity and embrace positive community leadership.
He carried this philosophy over to found the Stronger Smarter Institute in 2005, which works with schools and community leaders across Australia to deliver the stronger smarter approach to Indigenous students.
Dr Sarra holds a PhD in Psychology from Murdoch University with his thesis Strong and Smart – Towards a Pedagogy for 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.
Dr Sarra joined the University of Canberra as a Professor of Education in 2016, where he teaches and researches in areas including school leadership, Indigenous education and educational equity in East Asia and Australia. He was also named the NAIDOC Person of the Year in 2016, in recognition of his efforts to improve Aboriginal educational outcomes throughout Australia.
The following year, Dr Sarra received the Anthony Mundine Award for Courage at the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards in 2017 and was also included in a new advisory group set up to help the federal government transform its relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia.
In 2018, Dr Sarra commenced as the Director-General, Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Queensland Government, where he worked to build a reframed relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders and government.
Today, he is Director-General, Department of Seniors, Disability Services and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, where his focus is to improve the social and economic wellbeing of Queensland seniors, people with disability and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Queenslanders, to enable them to thrive.