Dr Chris Sarra

Dr Chris Sarra

Chris Sarra, who grew up in Bundaberg, Queensland and is the youngest of 10 children, became the first Aboriginal principal of Cherbourg State School in southeast Queensland in 1998. There, he significantly improved the educational and life outcomes of its students through a ‘strong and smart’ philosophy, which encourages students to have a positive sense of cultural identity and embrace positive community leadership.

He founded the Stronger Smarter Institute in 2005, which works with schools and community leaders across Australia to deliver the stronger smarter approach to Indigenous students.

He 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.

In 2016, Dr Sarra was named the NAIDOC Person of the Year in recognition of his efforts to improve Aboriginal educational outcomes throughout Australia. He received the Anthony Mundine Award for Courage at the National Indigenous Human Rights Awards in 2017. The same year, he was included in a new advisory group set up to help the federal government transform its relationship with Indigenous Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia. 

In August 2018, Dr Sarra commenced his new role as the Director-General, Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Queensland Government.

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. He was also an Australian Rugby League commissioner from 2012 - 2018.

The department's strategic direction

As the lead agency in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, our department has a special role in leading and driving significant whole-of-government reforms.

For further information on the department's strategic direction please refer to the: