Dr John Halsey has been appointed the foundation Sidney Myer Chair for Rural Education and Communities from an international field of candidates.
A senior lecturer in educational leadership and management at Flinders University, and a consultant in rural education through the Center for Relationalearning, Santa Fe, New Mexico, Professor Halsey will lead a program of research and teaching aimed at improving access to high quality education and training for people living in rural and remote Australia.
The position has been established with a $1 million grant from the Sidney Myer Fund as part of the Myer Family Philanthropy’s 2009 Commemorative Grants Program.
Professor Halsey said vibrant, productive rural communities are integral to the long-term sustainability of Australia.
“There’s a tendency to associate sustainability with the natural environment, but sustainability is dependent on other factors, too, such as measures of social capital and economic performance,” Professor Halsey said.
“Schools in rural communities are critical to these measures. Research and experience shows that when a school closes in a community, the likelihood of other human services and economic activities shutting down or moving, dramatically increases,” he said.
“And so access to high quality, relevant and affordable education, training and care at all ages and stages of life is vital to the sustainability of these communities.”
In addition to addressing the educational challenges of attracting and retaining staff including leaders to rural and remote areas, access to relevant curriculum and information and communication technologies will also be a priority for the role.
Professor Halsey said his new role will also encompass aspects of nation building through the promotion of rural and regional sustainability and the study of the impacts of drought and climate change on rural communities.
Congratulating Professor Halsey on his appointment, Executive Dean of the Faculty, Humanities, Law and Theology at Flinders, Professor Faith Trent AM said how delighted she was that he has been appointed to this prestigious Chair as it built on his long time commitment to rural and remote education and communities demonstrated through his extensive experience as a former teacher, principal and senior curriculum and policy advisor, in both rural and metropolitan settings.