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Dr. Gary Fry

PhD; MEd; Grad Dip; Grad Cert; Dip Business; Dip Teach
Associate Professor - First Nations Studies
Office of Indigenous Engagement
First Nations Academy
538 Flinders Street West
About Me


I am a proud member of the Dagoman (Jorrolam) families of the Katherine region in the Northern Territory. I worked initially in the VET industry as a qualified electrician during the 1980’s, prior to later training and working as a primary school teacher from 1990. I have worked as a teacher and principal in four remote Aboriginal schools across the NT over a decade and spent an equal amount of time at senior leadership and executive principal levels in urban mainstream schools in Darwin – one of few NT Aboriginal members to achieve this level in the past 40 years. I have maintained a long-term commitment to tackling Australia's First Nations educational inequality through my dedication to excellence and through my many networks in the education industry, where I have been recognised nationally and internationally for my strong achievements in the education sector.


Key strengths


Deepened knowledge, skills and experience across the three sectors of VET, school education and tertiary higher education. This includes educational leadership and teacher training/workplace professional development; school organisational and strategic planning and performance reviews; higher education teacher education and educational research (First Nations research), specialised online course/unit delivery practice; course/unit development; conference convenor and keynote delivery across a wide range of audiences, local/national and international; remote and urban school educational service and community engagement; VET pathways to higher education; study/work credit transfer/recognition (particularly Indigenous student pathways); submission writing and grant applications.




My work as a school principal in Darwin was used as an exemplar of excellence in the development of the national Accountability and Performance Improvement Framework (APIF), used to guide school strategic agendas across Australia. In recent years I have undertaken senior executive level roles at Charles Darwin University, including Principal in Residence at the Centre for School Leadership (2012-2013) and from Aug 2013-April 2016 was its director, responsible for school leadership training across the NT government education sector. In 2016 I was Associate Professor of Education Indigenous School Leadership, within the School of Education at Charles Darwin University (CDU), and in 2017 was a Director Centre for Collaborative First Nations’ Research, Batchelor Institute. Between 2018-Jan 2022 I worked in the role of research active academic within the College of Education at CDU, and in 2020 worked also in the role of Assistant Dean Indigenous Education.
My scholarly achievement, as briefly outlined in my resume and as evidenced in my teaching, publications and research activities, demonstrate my capacity to deepen the influence of multidisciplinary perspectives and concepts in education including anthropology, organisational studies, existentialism/social complexity theories, post-colonialism, post-structuralism, studies of capitalism, political economy and an enduring interest in how these shape and influence educational practice in the NT, Australia and internationally. Against the structural dimensions of Indigenous educational inequality, I have a lifelong pursuit in finding functional pathways through the layers of teaching and research to addressing this major social imperative, in part because it has shaped my journey and that of every Indigenous person in the NT. In this way I bring to my work a strong moral and ethical ability to pursue and link high quality progressive research with policy and practice, governance and partnership engagement, underpinned by high quality community engagement and the business acumen that will contribute to future university growth and opportunity.

In the role of academic (teaching and research), I have worked extensively with pre-service teachers, via face-face and online learning delivery (via Blackboard), across undergraduate and post-graduate courses, including delivery of research units and master's by research projects. My research interests further and more specifically include critical race theory and methodology; racism studies; colonisation studies; Indigenous and mainstream education policy design and service modelling; school leadership studies; free-market and global capitalism, structural inequality and wickedness; NT remote Aboriginal social capitalism; NT Aboriginal existentialism; Western political economy; NT remote Aboriginal political economy, and social complexity theory.






Universities Studied At

University of Sydney

Deakin University

Charles Darwin University


1. 2021 Sister Alison Bush Medal, University of Sydney

My high-level dedication to my research has been recognised by my peers, having received the 2021 University of Sydney medal for academic excellence, the Sister Alison Bush Medal, which is awarded to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander student who has achieved a high standard of academic proficiency and contributed to the diverse life of the broader community and Sydney University. This award was based on my PhD dissertation: Indigeneity as a foundation for patterned Northern Territory remote Aboriginal student achievement within a stratified western education system.

My dissertation presented a Critical Race Theory (CRT) led policy analysis of NT remote Indigenous education inequality within a stratified, capitalist Australian society. This research discussed the complex interactions of Aboriginal social and educational justice in Australia, reifying Indigeneity at the core of progressive First Nations educational policy modelling in the NT. This study has been widely acknowledged as exemplary by my examiners, national and international, as well as my peers (for example, Sydney Indigenous Researchers Network) as ground – breaking research into the complex and interconnecting layers between the micro, meso and macro structures behind patterned Indigenous educational inequality in the NT.

At its core, this research is largely about what transpires when First Nations peoples’ identities, voices and governance are not included in educational policy and service provision, but also as expressed against what I argue has long been the dysfunction within the national architecture of schooling reforms, centralised departmental self-determinism, and poor schooling service design (Gillan, Mellor & Krakouer, 2017). The goals set out in all my research projects are encapsulated in the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education Policy (NATSIEP) 1989 (Australian Government, 1989). A key statement made by Indigenous Task Force members at the time was clear, in that “a new approach to Aboriginal education can only succeed if the Aboriginal community is fully involved in determining the policies and programs that are intended to provide appropriate education for their community” (Gillan, Mellor & Krakouer, 2017, p. 18).

My research demonstrated that over the past 30 years this has not happened in the NT, and it is why my focus on these systemic policy dimensions is important, particularly given also the national and international relevance. For the Australian university sector, in its pursuit of being a world leader in Indigenous tertiary education, my research focuses on the deeper policy and funding designs that link with a national political economy and its interactions with an NT First Nations political economy.


The statistical data reveals this body of work has been well received by the national and international education research academy. Between July 2020-April 2023 there have been over 2000 downloads and views - Source: University of Sydney library author statistical information (Indigeneity as a foundation for patterned Northern Territory remote Aboriginal student achievement within a stratified western education system (



2. 2018 - Betty Watts Indigenous Researcher Award, Australian Association of Researchers in Education.


3. 2004 - Vice Chancellor’s Medal (VET), Charles Darwin University (CDU)





Recent Research Projects
No research projects to display.
Research Supervision

I am currently accredited for supervision in the following:

  • 3902 Education policy, sociology and philosophy
  • 4502 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education

At the level of Principal Supervisor

Current Capacity
I am currently available to supervise more research candidates
No Supervisions to display.
Research Interests
Indigenous Studies

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education - Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education not elsewhere classified
National First Nations education policy design.

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