Research honoured for advancing Indigenous education

Thursday, 14 December 2017


An esteemed academic within Aboriginal Studies from the University of Newcastle has received the Ray Debus Award for Doctoral Research in Education, which recognises excellence in educational research by outstanding doctoral graduates.

John Lester receiving the Ray Debus Award
Professor John Lester (left) with Professor Robert Lingard, Chair of the Award Selection Committee.

Professor John Lester, a leading authority in Indigenous education and research, was awarded the accolade for his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) that examined the impact of current school systems on Aboriginal student engagement.

With over 35 years’ experience working across education and government, Professor Lester said disengagement from school was a reoccurring issue for Indigenous students due to “poor community engagement and inappropriate and lack of inclusive quality teaching”.

“Indigenous communities are not being effectively engaged in school participation, which is crucial for creating effective learning environments.”

“Engaging Indigenous kids in schooling will not be achieved by simple, quick fix programs. What my community and our kids need is quality engaging teaching, which is inclusive of Indigenous ways of knowing and doing,” Professor Lester explained.

Presented annually since 1989 by the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE), the Ray Debus Award honours the memory of AARE’s founding member for his passionate commitment and contribution to educational research.

“I am deeply humbled to receive this prestigious research award. It is a proud moment to have my achievements recognised at a national level and I hope this helps contribute further to the education agenda for Indigenous communities,” Professor Lester said.

Professor Lester is the first Indigenous academic from the University of Newcastle to receive the award, which was presented at the AARE Conference held in Canberra late last month.