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Southern Cross University Indigenous education research transforms policy


Jessica Nelson
22 March 2019

Tireless advocate for Indigenous education Ian Mackie has spent more than 40 years working in Indigenous Education, and now the Queensland government is implementing his high-profile research through Southern Cross University.

Mr Mackie will be awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), completed in just 2.5 years, at Southern Cross University Gold Coast campus.

Mr Mackie has worked a school principal of Aurukun State School on Cape York and an education consultant at Doomadgee. And he counts Professor Chris Sarra - Indigenous education specialist, 2010 QLD Australian of the Year and Director-General of Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DATSIP) - among his supporters.

“For me, I’ve been working on this PhD for a lifetime. It feels good to get this lifetime of work and experiences down on paper,” said Mr Mackie, who published seven journal articles during his candidature after completing a Bachelor of Education Honours year at Southern Cross University in 2015.

In September last year and with his PhD research completed, Mr Mackie was appointed Deputy Director-General at the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DATSIP), reporting to Chris Sarra.

Professor Sarra will attend the graduation ceremony as an official guest.

Mr Mackie’s thesis ‘Innovation and Reform in Queensland Indigenous Educational Policy: A Critical Analysis’ outlines a basic formula for successful education delivery around five pillars for students: high expectation relationships; education embedded with community; jobs and real meaning; individual identity; and persuasion.

“This is about improving attendance, school participation and educational outcomes for Aboriginal children. The Queensland Government is already implementing the research findings particularly with the jobs guarantee model, which is where schools in regional and remote areas partner with the community, so students know they will either have a position in the job market, in university or in TAFE after school which helps them to understand the reason why they’re in school.”

Mr Mackie lives in Brisbane with his wife, children and grandchildren. His daughter is also studying with Southern Cross, completing a PhD on government responses to the fourth industrial revolution.

It was the late Professor Roy Bhasker of the University of London, a leading authority in critical realism, who encouraged Mr Mackie to enrol at Southern Cross University after the pair met at a number of workshops.

“The University has been outstanding by way of student support; it’s wonderful, and I am a proud alumnus and satisfied customer,” Mr Mackie said.

“I have been privileged to be supervised by Dr Bradley Shipway who is widely recognised a leading critical realist and researcher – he’s one of many world-class scholars at Southern Cross University.”

Dr Shipway described Mr Mackie as “an exceptional person who is recognised for his high-profile research and thoroughly deserving as recognition for his work.”