Meet the keynote speakers


Register for the Equity @ ACU Symposium, a free online event on 25 – 26 September featuring keynote addresses from leaders in equity research and award-winning educators.

At ACU, equity is everyone’s business, and the Equity Symposium will provide an opportunity to engage with leaders and experts across both the pre-tertiary and higher education sectors. Equity Symposium attendees can join for the full two days or individual sessions. Our keynote speakers will unpack equity and inclusion, emerging ideas and approaches to widening participation, and future directions of education in Australia.

Keynote speakers

Professor Penny Jane Burke

Professor Penny Jane Burke - UNESCO Chair in Equity, Social Justice and Higher Education and Director of the Centre of Excellence for Equity in Higher Education (CEEHE), University of Newcastle

Professor Burke is an influential scholar and practitioner who is committed to mobilising higher education as a vehicle of social justice. Professor Burke has a deep commitment to generating social justice research with meaningful impact.

Professor Burke will be joined by Nicola Cull, Associate Director Equity and Inclusion, to talk about a transformative approach to equity in higher education. Hear about the possibilities and challenges as we explore who has the right to higher education, deficit imaginaries, reproduction of inequity, constructions of potential and more. 


Professor Mark Rose

Professor Mark Rose -Pro Vice Chancellor, Indigenous Strategy and Innovation at Deakin University & ACU Alumni

Professor Rose is a distinguished educator with traditional links to the Gunditjmara Nation. Professor Rose attended Mercy Teachers College (now ACU) and spent the next decade working in Primary and Secondary Schools before transitioning into academia.

His work has made him a leader in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Education and an advocate for the inclusion of Aboriginal knowledge and history in our curriculum. Professor Rose has built a career based on resilience, compassion and dedication to improving the educational outcomes of all First Nations peoples.

Professor Rose has contributed to ministerial advisory committees, including the Victorian Implementation Review of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, the Vice-Chancellor’s Indigenous Advisory Council at Charles Darwin University and chaired the Bachelor Institute of Tertiary Education.

Professor Rose has led Indigenous knowledge programs at Deakin, La Trobe, RMIT and Melbourne University and in 2020, was the winner of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Award in ACU’s Alumni Awards.


Professor Sarah OShea

Professor Sarah O’Shea - Honorary Professorial Fellow in the School of Education, Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, and Dean, Graduate Research at Charles Sturt University 

Professor O’Shea is an award-winning educator and internationally recognised researcher, who applies sociological perspectives to the study of higher education equity.

Her work in institutional and nationally-funded projects advances understanding of how under-represented student cohorts enact success within university, navigate transition into and through this environment, manage competing identities and negotiate aspirations for self and others.

Sarah has also held numerous university leadership positions, which have directly informed changes across the Australian higher education sector, particularly in the field of educational equity.

She has also been recognised for her work via numerous awards and is currently an Australian Learning and Teaching Fellow (ALTF), a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), and a Churchill Fellow (CF).


Professor Sally Kift

Professor Sally Kift - Higher Education Academy (PFHEA), a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law (FAAL), and President of the Australian Learning & Teaching Fellows (ALTF)

Professor Kift is one of the most recognisable and impactful researchers within Australian Higher Education. Professor Kift’s extensive research has shaped understandings of student experience and had a lasting systemic impact in higher education.

Known for her sharp wit and incredible insights, Professor Kift will start the conversation at the Equity @ ACU.




Register now to confirm your attendance and stay up to date with the latest Equity Symposium news.

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