Vice-Chancellor Prof Jane den Hollander, Prof Jill Blackmore and Prof Jon Altman have been honoured for their contributions to the nation.
Equity, diversity and building resilient communities are themes for all three of the Deakin University leaders who were recognised in the Australia Day Honours awards for 2017.
Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane den Hollander was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO), while world-leading researchers Professor Jill Blackmore and Professor Jon Altman became Members in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM).
Ms Padmini Sebastian, a member of the Advisory Board of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation and Manager of the Immigration Museum, Museum Victoria, was presented with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM).
The Vice-Chancellor’s award recognises her distinguished service to tertiary education through a range of executive administration and advisory roles, as a supporter of professional educational organisations, and to the community.
In accepting the award, Professor den Hollander stressed that it belonged to the entire Deakin University community.
“It’s a great honour. We’re being acknowledged for contribution to community,” she said.
“The University has done a lot in Geelong and I have been the figurehead for incredible amounts of work done by people around me, so I’ve taken it as a great acknowledgement that Deakin is on the right track in Geelong and that’s fantastic.”
“That’s not to underestimate what we do in Melbourne, and the work we’re doing in the cloud is bleeding edge and taking us to a new level in managing our students’ experience.”
Professor den Hollander said education was highly valued in her family as she grew up in South Africa during the time of Apartheid. As a university student in Johannesburg, she began to understand the privilege of being born white and able to gain a good education. That exposure to racial exclusion fuelled a life-long passion for equity and access to education for all who want it.
“I’ve always understood that I’m lucky; that I have a very privileged life,” she said.
“At Deakin our originating Act from 42 years ago said we would be a university for Geelong and for regional Victoria and that we’d be a university for access and participation. I’m striving to uphold the Act, but to do that in a contemporary 21st century situation.
“So what does access and participation mean today? It means to be the best university at the digital frontier, education for the jobs of the future, staying contemporary, making sure we do that in a very inclusive way, so anybody who wishes to get a university education can choose Deakin and get the learning and skills they need.”
An internationally respected education researcher, Alfred Deakin Professor Jill Blackmore has been recognised for her “significant service to education as an academic and administrator, to social justice and equity, and to policy reform.”
Professor Blackmore has played a central role in developing Deakin’s research capacity in education since she joined the University in 1987. She was Director of Deakin’s Centre for Education and Change from 1999-2003, and Director of the Centre for Research in Educational Futures and Innovation from 2010-2015.
She is now Professor of Education and Program Leader of the Education Governance and Policy research stream within the Research for Educational Impact (REDI) Strategic Research Centre.
The Director of REDI, Professor Julianne Moss, said “the Deakin brand and international education have been propelled by the work of Jill Blackmore.”
“In the 2015 Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) ratings, Deakin gained a score of 4 out of 5 for Education (above world standard), illustrating the capacity, reputation and impact of education researchers like Professor Blackmore,” Professor Moss said.
“Over the past 20 years she has prioritised research mentorships, the building of teams and innovation in education research, and she has been active in service contribution, particularly as former President of the Australian Association of Research in Education.”
A Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences of Australia since 2013, Professor Blackmore’s expertise lies in areas such as international education, innovative learning environments and community capacity building through arts-based education.
“As a feminist critical policy sociologist, I investigate shifts in policy and the changing relations of governance between the state, ‘family’, work, civil society and the individual in education,” said Prof Blackmore.
“Through the lens of leadership I have considered educational restructuring and governance in higher education, technical education and schools, and what that means for teachers’ and academic work and equity. This work has informed rethinking professional and institutional autonomy, responsibility and accountability.”
One of Australia’s leading public intellectuals in Indigenous affairs, Professor Jon Altman was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in recognition of “significant service to tertiary education as a researcher and administrator, to the social sciences and Indigenous economic policy.”
With nearly 40 years in Indigenous affairs behind him, Professor Altman joined the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI) in 2016.
His distinguished career includes many years at the Australian National University where he was Foundation Director of the Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research (CAEPR) from 1990-2010 and has been an Emeritus Professor since 2014, collaborating with researchers at the School of Regulation and Global Governance.
The Director of ADI Professor Fethi Mansouri said that Professor Altman combines a strong knowledge of economics with anthropology, which has provided a unique perspective – reinforcing the links between economic justice and social justice, with a healthy respect for cultural difference.
“We are delighted that Professor Altman has been recognised in this way,” said Professor Mansouri. “He has brought a depth of knowledge, experience, leadership and commitment to the ADI that aligns with our own vision to build understanding of social inclusion and citizenship – and influence research, public debates and policy on these issues.”
Professor Altman said he is thrilled to receive this award because it vindicates his commitment to evidence-based research, “at arm’s length from government as a means to assist the development of approaches that improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians, with all their diversity of circumstances and aspirations.”
“I am really keen to see hard-won land and native title rights and interests leveraged to ensure livelihood improvement for Indigenous people, especially those living remotely in the most difficult situations,” he said.
Professor Altman has contributed to many parliamentary enquiries, preparing almost 100 submissions and engaging regularly with politicians and government officials to assist policy formation and critique poorly designed policy. He has written or edited over 30 books and monographs, and almost 400 articles for journals and other publications.
Amongst many honorary positions, he has been a Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia since 2003, an Honorary Fellow of the New Zealand Royal Society since 2012 and an Adjunct Professorial Research Fellow at Charles Darwin University since 2001.
This article was published by Deakin Research on 30 January 2017.