Professor Chris Sarra’s speech at the 2016 National NAIDOC Awards has been referred to as “Australia’s version of Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech”.
But, according to him, the speech following his announcement of 2016 National NAIDOC Person of the Year wasn’t intended to invoke Dr King.
“I wanted to get people thinking,” Chris said.
“I knew beforehand that if I won the award, it would be an important venue to speak at and gain attention. It’s gone viral, beyond what I hoped it would, and I’ve had a very positive reaction from people all around Australia, so I’m glad to hear people are thinking about it that way.”
The descendant of the Gurang Gurang and Taribilang Bunda people and founder and chair of the Stronger Smarter Institute believes that we are at an important moment in history where the hard work on closing the gap in Indigenous education is coming to fruition.
“I get frustrated that people with no insight into education criticise Stronger Smarter, but we keep chipping away and people in education are seeing the benefits,” Chris said.
“We keep doing what we do because it works. In ten years I have worked with over two thousand community leaders in more than five hundred schools across Australia. The work is hard but we are delivering results effectively and efficiently and Indigenous students are succeeding and have a stronger, smarter future.”
This year he will join the University of Canberra as a Professor of Education, teaching and researching on school leadership, Indigenous education and educational equity.