Chris Sarra's philosophies featured prominently in the Prime Minister's Closing the Gap speech. Now, Dr Sarra tells The Point, he has 'plenty of ideas' about turning those words into action.
Ella Archibald-Binge

The Point
14 Mar 2016 - 10:47 PM  UPDATED 14 Mar 2016 - 10:47 PM

The Prime Minister may be fond of quoting Chris Sarra, but the renowned Aboriginal educator says he is eager to share other ideas about how to turn the rhetoric into reality. 

"I wouldn’t suggest it’s accurate to say that I have the ear of the Prime Minister," Dr Sarra said during an interview with The Point's Malarndirri McCarthy.

"He’s quoted some aspects of my speech and in the hallway we’ve passed and said that we’ll chat.

"But if I did there’s a much deeper conversation to be had about how we commit to turning that rhetoric of doing things with people rather than to people, into some kind of reality."

Watch Malarndirri McCarthy's full interview with Dr Chris Sarra:


The Prime Minister quoted Dr Sarra during his Closing the Gap speech, emphasising the need to work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people instead of imposing policy.

Dr Sarra says he has no plans to meet with Mr Turnbull in the near future, but he does have "plenty of ideas" about how to move forward.

"The challenge for him as Prime Minister... is to enable policy that brings us hope and enables the solutions to some of the challenges we face to be co-created at grass roots level," he says.

"And what that means is service providers… have to be in an honourable relationship on the ground where they are talking to local grass roots people and co-creating the solutions, rather than one or two hand-picked people or some government department somewhere deciding what the answer is, and smashing people around until they get that outcome, or try to get that outcome. 

"That kind of ideology hasn't worked and will not ever work."