Award win shines a light on the importance of Indigenous educators 

16 December 2021

UQ PhD candidate and School of Education academic Ren Perkins described the “very proud Dad moment” he experienced when he was awarded the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Researcher Award by the Australian Association for Research in Education (AARE).

“My daughter Rhani has just completed her Masters of Teaching and also just completed her first semester of work as a primary school teacher,” he said.

“To be able to show my daughter, who is a proud Indigenous teacher, that I had won a research award for my work on the importance of Indigenous teachers, was a really special moment.”

Ren, a Quandamooka man with connections to Waka Waka, won the award for his paper 'The post MATSITI landscape: Where are we now and where are we going?', referencing the More Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Teachers Initiative (MATSITI).

He described the award win as surprising and humbling, but said it helped confirm to him that the work he was doing was both vital and valuable.

“I’ve never won an award like this, for writing, research or my academic work,” he said.

“It is validation that this is an important topic, one that I know that needs to get out there. It’s good to see a greater focus on stories and research about our mob, our teachers, and the work they are doing in schools.”

The AARE Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Postgraduate Researcher Award recognises an outstanding paper given by a Postgraduate Student who identifies as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person.

Ren credits support from his supervisor Dr Marnee Shay, and the leadership team at the ATSIS Unit and Office of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Engagement), for his success and achievements, and has big plans for the future.

“After I complete my PhD I would love to stay with the School of Education at UQ, continuing my research and sharing our peoples’ stories.

“There is so much scope for more research into the importance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander educators and their benefits in schools, so it’s a really exciting time.”