Professor Tony Dreise, Director of the ANU Centre for Aboriginal  Economic Policy Research. Photo by Lannon Hartley.

Professor Tony Dreise, Director of the ANU Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research. Photo by Lannon Harley.

An early sense of social justice

This year Professor Tony Dreise became the first Indigenous Director of the ANU Centre for Aboriginal Economic Policy Research, Australia’s foremost research body in this area. He spoke to Adam Spence and Kaya Kaihe* about his new role.

 

 What is your background and how has it influenced your thinking?
My heritage and cultural ties are to the Guumilaroi and Euahlayi people of north-west NSW and south-west Queensland. Growing up in a relatively remote town, I started to develop an early awareness about isolation, about a lack of services, about limited opportunities for young people.

That rather sharpened my senses to both education and public policy. That early sense of social justice set into my DNA very early – I could see people living in poverty and people struggling to get food on the table.

With our parents’ support and expectations, there was this silent unpressured culture of ‘Hey, there’s a big world out there, go and explore it’. Quite early on, I thought, ‘I want to go see that world and I want to go influence that world’.