Honour, respect and graciousness
Professor Michael McDaniel, UTS’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous Leadership and Engagement), has been awarded NAIDOC Scholar of the Year for 2019.
Wiradjuri man Professor McDaniel was recognised as an exceptional educator who has made a difference to the life of students or communities.
He has led a distinguished career in Indigenous higher education and has a record of service to the arts, culture and community which spans more than 30 years.
But education wasn’t always a path he thought he would go down. He left school at the age of 14. And like many young Aboriginal people, he had an unpleasant experience.
He left home at a very young age and did a number of short-term jobs – he was in the army for six years, a security guard and had a job sorting mail by night for the National Australia Bank.
Then he saw an advertisement for a university offering bridging programs to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Since his commencement at UTS there has been a tremendous increase in all Indigenous education and employment rates, including a 100 per cent employment rate of Indigenous graduates within 3 months of graduation.
Michael has inspired many in the UTS community. His passion, commitment and approach will leave an impact on the university that will permeate through future generations.
And he hopes that future students and graduates will remember that education is just as important as culture and belonging.
“One of things I've learned that is really important for us Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is, yes, it’s wonderful that the doors have opened for us in Western education (an international education system) and that we're thriving in the tens of thousands in that system, which is really wonderful.
“But the other really important thing I've learnt is learn your culture, learn about country, learn your lineage, learn your connection to people, learn your values, be Yindyamaldhury, have Yindyamarra; have honour and respect and graciousness.”
Michael's actions, reputation and achievements make him an inspirational role model for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian population.