Foreword

Senator the Hon Chris Evans
Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

12 July 2012

Dear Minister

On 14 April 2011 you initiated a review to provide advice and make recommendations to the Australian Government on higher education access and outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

On behalf of the Review Panel, Mr Robert Griew, Ms Patricia Kelly and Professor Steven Larkin, I am pleased to provide you with our Final Report, which includes our findings and recommendations for governments, universities, employers and professional organisations.

I believe that the Review and the implementation of our recommendations has the potential to dramatically improve the Australian higher education sector. You will see in this report that our hope is that every person who aspires to have a higher education and that has the capacity to undertake it is given a genuine opportunity to do so. Higher education and the opportunities it affords can transform the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

The transformative power of higher education underpins the prosperity of our nation and is of particular importance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities where overcoming socio-economic disadvantage will only be achieved if members of those communities are given the capacity to assist in finding the solutions to seemingly intractable problems.

The Review was supported by a comprehensive consultation process with the sector. I travelled to every public university in Australia (and to the University of Notre Dame in Broome) and met with vice-chancellors, other senior university representatives and most importantly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, graduates and staff.

During our consultations, the Review Panel had the privilege of meeting people working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education who were generous with their knowledge and time, including education researchers, Elders and professional business people. We also benefited from constructive insights provided in the many submissions that were made to the Review by universities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisations and interested individuals. We were inspired by the determination of the students we met throughout the consultation process to change their lives by getting a higher education degree.

The work of the Panel was assisted by some of the great thinkers in the sector including Professor Ian Anderson, Professor Shane Houston, Professor Michael McDaniel, Professor Irabinna Rigney, Mr Greg Phillips, Dr Bob Morgan, Professor Linda Tuhiwai Smith and Distinguished Professor Graham Hingangaroa Smith. We were helped in our work by the support and involvement of the Indigenous Higher Education Advisory Council, particularly Professor Aileen Moreton-Robinson. We were also greatly assisted by Mr Frank Gafa, who liaised with the National Union of Students and ensured that we gave strong consideration to the views of students, and Professor Peter Lee who liaised with Universities Australia and ensured that we understood the perspective of the sector as we developed our thinking and recommendations.

A review of this size and complexity is not possible without a strong and dedicated secretariat. Thank you to the Review Secretariat team headed by Jasmin Fielder and supported by senior staff including, over the period, Catherine Vandermark, Lisa Schofield and Craig Ritchie. Thank you, Minister, for giving us all the opportunity to work on and contribute to the Review.

Yours sincerely

Professor Larissa Behrendt