Jewish Aboriginal woman appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Sydney University

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Former synagogue president Lisa Pulver Jackson, who converted to Judaism in 2004, was first in her family to enter tertiary education

 

Professor Lisa Pulver Jackson has been appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Indigenous Strategy and Services at the University of Sydney.

Professor Pulver Jackson is an Aboriginal woman and the first known Aboriginal person to receive a PhD in medicine at the University of Sydney.

The newly appointed Deputy Vice-Chancellor is a former president of Sydney’s Newton Synagogue but is currently a member of city’s The Great Synagogue.

An accomplished advisor, researcher and educator – particularly in the areas of Aboriginal health, data collection, analysis and management and strategy – Professor Pulver Jackson is currently Pro Vice-Chancellor Engagement; Pro Vice-Chancellor Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Leadership; and Provost Parramatta South Campus at Western Sydney University.

Among many achievements, Professor Pulver Jackson played a key role in the development of a designated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health unit, Muru Marri, in the Faculty of Medicine at UNSW (University of New South Wales) and was the inaugural Chair of Aboriginal Health. She cites one her proudest achievements as co-founding the Shalom Gamarada Scholarship Program at UNSW, offering residential scholarships to Indigenous students studying medicine and other disciplines.

Lisa Pulver Jackson tied herself to trees as fledgling environmental activists protesters waged a peaceful war against the damming of Tasmania’s Franklin River in the 1980s…but she is a Greens supporter no more.

The Aboriginal president of Newtown Synagogue lost heart with the Australian Greens in 2011 over the resolution Marrickville Council passed in December to invoke boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel in protest against the treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank. Marrickville Council is twinned with Bethlehem.

University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence said he was delighted Professor Pulver Jackson had accepted the role.

“The selection panel and I have been enormously impressed with Lisa’s commitment to embed belonging and key Aboriginal frameworks and world views into initiatives across the education, research and government sectors, as well as into the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) where she is a specialist reserve member,” he said.

“This commitment dates back to her medical student days where she was a founding member of Sydney University’s Wokal Kangara (meaning ‘one blood’) Aboriginal Students Association through to more recent membership on the NHMRC’s (National Health and Medical Research Council) committee for improving the health of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and current roles with institutions such as the Australian Medical Council, the Australian Bureau of Statistics and Universities Australia.

Professor Pulver Jackson’s leadership and program and policy development skills have enabled the advancement of Aboriginal peoples as well as the broader academy of students and staff at the institutions she has contributed to. We look forward to her bringing that invaluable strength and sense of purpose to Sydney.”

Professor Pulver Jackson said she was looking forward to re-joining the University of Sydney next month.

“The University of Sydney gave me the opportunity to enter tertiary education. I was the first in my family to do so,” she said.

“I’m honoured to be able to return in a very different capacity and give back to the University’s staff and students in this way.”

She  has said she celebrates all the Jewish festivals, keeps a kosher home and has other community members around the house for Friday night dinners. “For me,” she says, “being Jewish is not contrary to my beliefs in spirituality as an Aboriginal woman.”

I would’ve thought that Aboriginal Jews might comprise the smallest minority in Australia, but Pulver Jackson says there are “quite a lot” of them.

Professor Lisa Pulver Jackson received the AM (Member of the Order of Australia) in 2011 for service to medical education, particularly through the Muru Marri Indigenous Health Unit at the University of New South Wales, and as a supporter of educational opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The spiritual leader of The Great Synagogue Rabbi Dr Ben Elton told J-Wire: “The Great Synagogue wishes a hearty Mazal Tov to Prof Pulver Jackson on her appointment. This is another chapter in an outstanding and distinguished career and we are very proud of our member.”

She will commence the position at the University of Sydney on 15 October 2018.

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