During his time at teachers college in Brisbane Chris Sarra was confronted by a very deep and very personal insight into the filthy stench of low expectations of Aboriginal children in schools. He left teachers’ college fuelled with a sense of anger and a determination to stick up for his people and for his profession. He dedicated his career to changing the tide of low expectations of Aboriginal children. His work at Cherbourg State School, an Aboriginal community school in South East Queensland, was ground-breaking. In many ways his work exposed the teaching profession and Aboriginal communities to a newer, more positive and more honourable reality in which Aboriginal children could embrace their human right to be stronger and smarter. After leaving Cherbourg he founded the Stronger Smarter Institute which has worked with and inspired more than 500 schools and 2500 school and Aboriginal community leaders. The tide of low expectations did change and today there is no place to hide without being challenged, in any classroom in Australia for any teacher of Aboriginal children or indeed poor white children. 


Lots of us talk about high expectations of children in schools but do we really understand the difference between high expectations rhetoric and high expectations relationships? Some of us naively think that simply telling kids they’re great will make them great, others think that zero tolerance is high expectations. In his address Dr Sarra will invite us to reflect upon and embrace the exciting new challenge of delivering on the promise of the new stronger smarter reality for Aboriginal children and poor white children. 



About Chris


Dr Chris Sarra is an internationally recognised Indigenous education specialist.


As the youngest of 10 children who grew up in Bundaberg, Queensland, Chris experienced first-hand many of the issues faced by Indigenous students throughout their schooling. Encouraged and supported by some teachers and mentors, Chris successfully completed a Diploma of Teaching, a Bachelor of Education and Master of Education and a PhD in Psychology with Murdoch University. His thesis has been published in a book released in 2011, titled Strong and Smart - Towards a Pedagogy for Emancipation Education for First Peoples. He is also the author of another book titled Good morning Mr Sarra.


Chris was the first Aboriginal Principal of Cherbourg State School. He is also the founder and chairman of the Stronger Smarter Institute. He is passionate about effecting sustainable change through positive leadership and mentoring with high expectations for a strong and smart Indigenous population. In 2011, Chris was Queensland's nomination for Australian of the Year. By sharing his own journey, Chris encourages other leaders to accept the Strong and Smart challenge.