A leader in driving student and staff equity and social justice in the education sector, QUT’s Mary Kelly has been honoured with a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia.
Ms Kelly was recognised for her outstanding contribution to education and, in particular, to policy development and advocacy on behalf of teachers in the school system, and students and staff in the university sector.
Previously named one of the 50 most influential people in Australian higher education, Mary Kelly’s work in equity is the culmination of a long career dedicated to education and social justice.
She is recognised as a leading voice in the nation on staff and student equity in education, thanks to a career that includes roles as a secondary school teacher, high-profile president of the Queensland Teachers’ Union, chair of the Australian Teaching Council and, for some 20 years, Equity director at QUT.
Mary Kelly has demonstrated great energy, intelligence and passion in pursuing her strong belief in access to education for all, and in education as a pathway to personal and social advancement.
Appointed at QUT in 1997, Mary has supported the University through a period of unprecedented student expansion which included increasing participation rates in tertiary education for students from low-socio-economic backgrounds.
QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Peter Coaldrake said Mary Kelly’s efforts and advocacy had resulted in recognition of QUT as a leader in student and staff equity nationally through programs including the QUT Equity Scholarship Scheme which offers financial assistance to low-income students.
“QUT was also named as an Employer of Choice for Women, an achievement made possible largely through Mary’s advocacy for recruitment, employment and development opportunities as well as maternity leave arrangements for women,” he said.
Beyond QUT, Ms Kelly has influenced the higher education equity agenda by coordinating the QUT-led Widening Tertiary Participation initiative across Queensland-based universities.
This initiative brought together the State’s public universities with the common goal of supporting low-SES and Indigenous students.
Mary Kelly’s intellectual and practical leadership at institutional, state and national levels has made an undeniable impact on the lives of many students and staff within the education sector.