Armed for success

Featured in

  • Published 20060307
  • ISBN: 9780733316210
  • Extent: 268 pp
  • Paperback (234 x 153mm)

IN 1984, I was a seventeen year-old Aboriginal youth just finishing school. I had a Tertiary Entrance score that told me I was average and that I only had the capacity to do some type of agricultural course if I was serious about entertaining the notion of study beyond high school. Fortunately for me, what is now the Queensland University of Technology was running a program designed to encourage more Aboriginal people into teaching. I enrolled and my mentor there Gary MacLennan taught me a great deal, most importantly to see myself positively regardless of how others with limited expectations perceived me. What started off as a lucky break saw me, many years later, graduating with a PhD in psychology and on a continuing journey to challenge other educators to believe in the learning capacity of indigenous Australians. For part of this journey I took on the role of Cherbourg State School’s first Aboriginal principal.

Cherbourg State School is an Aboriginal Community School about 300 kilometres north-west of Brisbane. Cherbourg itself was formerly a mission or reserve where Aboriginal people from as far north as Cooktown and as far west as Quilpie were rounded up and dumped to be taught to be less Aboriginal.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

If you are an educator or student wishing to access content for study purposes please contact us at

Share article

More from author

High expectations

GR OnlineAS AN NRL commissioner, one of my duties was to be at the 2015 Telstra Premiership grand final. It was an epic match –...

More from this edition

I hear with my eyes

MemoirI'M DEAF. MY being deaf seems to be significant to other people. "Why do you speak like that?" This question has recurred throughout my...

Open doors or prison walls?

PolicyI'M ONE OF the lucky ones. Part of the baby-boom generation, I benefited from postwar economic prosperity and government policies that fostered opportunities for...

Moving private

EssayIN 1991, I did something that once would have been beyond imagination. I enrolled my eldest child in an elite private school. Financially, the...

Stay up to date with the latest, news, articles and special offers from Griffith Review.