Dr Sharlene Leroy-Dyer

Dr Sharlene Leroy-Dyer

Program Convenor, Yapug (Enabling)

Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies

In the interest of Indigenous rights

Controversially putting Corporate Australia under a microscope, Sharlene Leroy-Dyer is looking to magnify racial discrimination and other incidents of employer misconduct in the workplace.

Sharlene Leroy-Dyer

Labelling the latest Closing the Gap Report as a “huge fail,” Sharlene Leroy-Dyer concedes there is still a lot that needs to be done if our country is to successfully and permanently narrow the divide between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. In fact, the early career researcher insists the inequalities are actually worsening, particularly in health, literacy, education and employment. It’s the latter, however, that she believes is most concerning.

“Existing employment strategies are, at best, short-term fixes,” Sharlene elaborates.

“They are entrenched in ‘whiteness’ and do not contribute to self-determination or adequately address Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander social and economic issues.”

"If the Commonwealth Government really wants to reduce labour market disadvantage, it needs comprehensive programs that act as early interventions at the primary and/or high school level"

“The appropriate individuals must also be held to account if targets are not met.”

Focusing her studies on the private sector, Sharlene is seeking to more clearly define the professional needs and desires of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, developing a “best practice toolkit” that organisations can use to guide the creation of “culturally sensitive” workplace polices and procedures.

“My research is largely motivated by personal experience,” she shares.

“I previously worked at a company here in the Hunter, where I was racially discriminated against and publicly humiliated.”

“The manager had no idea how to treat Aboriginal employees.”

“The case was brought to the Human Rights Commission and later settled out of court.”

Turning the bad into good

Sharlene’s research career began in 2007, when she commenced a PhD at the University of Newcastle. Honing in on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander unemployment and underemployment, the case study cuts across a wide cross section of Australian society.

“It involved 220 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees from six private sector organisations,” she comments.

“A total of eight mentors, five of whom are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and 59 managers who were directly involved in Indigenous employment also partook in this project.”

“Only six of them, however, are Aboriginal.”

Opting for a qualitative approach, Sharlene acquired information from these participants using both yarning and Indigenous knowledges.

“The former is a process of making meaning through informal and ‘culturally friendly’ conversations,” she explains.

Indigenous knowledges, on the other hand, refers to the social, physical and spiritual understandings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that are passed down through the generations and deeply connected to their unique ties with country and kinship.

“I asked employers about the policies and procedures that they had in place for recruiting and retaining Indigenous workers, and I asked employees about their experiences in the workplace and whether the policies and procedures were adequate and appropriate – or even implemented in some cases.”

Divide and not conquer

Now at the pointy end of her candidature, Sharlene has come to the disappointing conclusion that we will “never close the gap” on Indigenous disadvantage in employment. Powerfully suggesting it to be “beyond the capacity” of the Commonwealth Government, she affirms a substantial narrowing will only happen when Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander development policymakers balance socioeconomic equality and the recognition of choice and self-determination for the traditional custodians of our land.

“Australians are not all alike,” she asserts.

“We share a history but our roles in that shared history are very different, based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and nationality.”

“This fixation on being a homogeneous group generally results in those who are non-white being pressured into assimilating as fully as possible, giving up our cultural identities and accepting the culture of the majority.”

In the interest of Indigenous rights

Controversially putting Corporate Australia under a microscope, Sharlene Leroy-Dyer is looking to magnify racial discrimination and other incidents of employer

Read more

Career Summary

Biography

I am a Aboriginal woman, from the Guringai, Gadigal, Wiradjuri and Dhurag peoples, born in Sydney, NSW.

I have a PhD in the degree: Doctor of Philosophy (Management).  My thesis is entitled: Private-sector employment programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples: Comparative case studies.

I completed my Honours thesis in 2006, entitled “Is mentoring an effective Human Resource strategy to redress labour market disadvantage for Indigenous Australians:  A qualitative study of mentoring outcomes for Indigenous trainees at the University of Newcastle”. 

I am a staunch Unionist, left wing political views.

Research Expertise
My research is around the Labour Market disadvantage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and what can be done to alleviate this disadvantage including private sector Indigenous Employment strategies.

Teaching Expertise
Industrial relations, diversity management, negotiation and advocacy. Aboriginal studies, Aboriginal labour history, Aboriginal employment, enabling courses for Aboriginal students

Administrative Expertise
4 successful grants

Collaborations
Research collaboration has been focused on Indigenous employment and mentoring

Qualifications

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Business, University of Newcastle
  • Bachelor of Business (Honours), University of Newcastle
  • Grad Cert in Indigenous Research & Leadership, University of Melbourne

Keywords

  • Aboriginal Culture
  • Aboriginal Education
  • Aboriginal Employment
  • Human Resource Management
  • Industrial Relations
  • Politics

Fields of Research

Code Description Percentage
080701 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Knowledge Management 30
160501 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Policy 40
150399 Business and Management not elsewhere classified 30

Professional Experience

UON Appointment

Title Organisation / Department
Program Convenor, Yapug (Enabling) University of Newcastle
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Australia
Program Convenor, Yapug (Enabling) University of Newcastle
The Wollotuka Institute
Australia

Academic appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
1/01/2010 -  Membership - Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association
Australia
1/02/2009 - 1/12/2009 Portfolio Leader/Indigenous Employment Co-ordinator University of Newcastle
The Wollotuka Institute
Australia
1/01/2008 - 1/06/2014 Casual Academic University of Newcastle
The Wollotuka Institute
Australia
1/01/2004 - 1/12/2013 Casual Academic University of Newcastle
Newcastle Business School
Australia

Teaching appointment

Dates Title Organisation / Department
6/06/2014 - 5/08/2016 Indigenous New Career Academic Wollotuka Institute
Australia

Awards

Recognition

Year Award
2001 Dean's Merit Award for Academic Excellence
University of Newcastle

Research Award

Year Award
2008 Australia Day Award
National Council of Women of New South Wales
2005 Dr Claire Burton award for excellence in research
Macquarie University
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Publications

For publications that are currently unpublished or in-press, details are shown in italics.


Chapter (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2010 Leroy-Dyer SM, 'Employing Indigenous Australians: Strategies for success', Managing Diversity in Australia: Theory and Practice, McGraw Hill, North Ryde, NSW 137-152 (2010) [B2]
Co-authors Sharlene Leroy-Dyer

Journal article (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2009 Burgess KJ, Leroy-Dyer SM, 'Workplace mentoring for indigenous Australians: A case study', Equal Opportunities International, 28 465-485 (2009) [C1]
DOI 10.1108/02610150910980774
Co-authors Sharlene Leroy-Dyer, John Burgess

Conference (1 outputs)

Year Citation Altmetrics Link
2007 Leroy-Dyer SM, Burgess KJ, 'Workplace mentoring for Indigenous Australians: A case study', 7th Annual Pacific Employment Relations Association Conference (PERA). Proceedings (2007) [E1]
Co-authors John Burgess, Sharlene Leroy-Dyer
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Grants and Funding

Summary

Number of grants 4
Total funding $105,674

Click on a grant title below to expand the full details for that specific grant.


20092 grants / $84,482

Private Sector Workplace Employment Programs for Indigenous Australians$55,000

Funding body: ARC (Australian Research Council)

Funding body ARC (Australian Research Council)
Project Team Doctor Sharlene Leroy-Dyer, Conjoint Professor John Burgess, Professor John Maynard
Scheme Discovery Indigenous Researchers Development Scheme
Role Lead
Funding Start 2009
Funding Finish 2010
GNo G0188990
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

Home Care - Aboriginal Trainee Program$29,482

Funding body: NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care

Funding body NSW Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care
Project Team Professor John Lester, Mr Greg Blyton, Doctor Sharlene Leroy-Dyer
Scheme Disability & Home Care Research Grants
Role Investigator
Funding Start 2009
Funding Finish 2009
GNo G0190661
Type Of Funding Other Public Sector - State
Category 2OPS
UON Y

20082 grants / $21,192

What policies and strategies have private sector organizations adopted to redress Labour market disadvantage for Indigenous Australians?$20,000

Funding body: Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies

Funding body Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies
Project Team Doctor Sharlene Leroy-Dyer, Conjoint Professor John Burgess
Scheme Research Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2008
Funding Finish 2008
GNo G0188515
Type Of Funding Aust Competitive - Commonwealth
Category 1CS
UON Y

Private sector workplace employment programs for Indigenous Australians$1,192

Funding body: University of Newcastle

Funding body University of Newcastle
Project Team Doctor Sharlene Leroy-Dyer, Conjoint Professor John Burgess
Scheme Near Miss Grant
Role Lead
Funding Start 2008
Funding Finish 2008
GNo G0188407
Type Of Funding Internal
Category INTE
UON Y
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Dr Sharlene Leroy-Dyer

Position

Program Convenor, Yapug (Enabling)
English Language and Foundation Studies Centre
Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies
Academic Division

Contact Details

Email sharlene.leroy-dyer@newcastle.edu.au
Phone (02) 49217935
Mobile 0417239909

Office

Room MC LG55, SAS 108
Building McMullin
Location Callaghan
University Drive
Callaghan, NSW 2308
Australia
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