Murdoch academics honoured for services to education

January 27, 2015

Two Murdoch University academics have been rewarded for their services to education in the Australia Day 2015 honours list.

Professor David Hill has been made a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition for his service to international relations as an advocate of Australia-Indonesia cross-cultural understanding, and as an educator.

Adjunct Professor Jennifer Searcy, who runs an after school program for school children at Murdoch, has been awarded a Medal in the General Division for services to education in the disciplines of science and mathematics.

Professor Hill, from the School of Arts, is the founder and director of the Australian Consortium for In-Country Indonesian Studies (ACICIS) which assists foreign students to study in Indonesian universities. It was set up to help nurture the relationship between Australia and Indonesia.

He has also written extensively about Indonesian politics, media and culture and has taught Indonesian at all levels from beginners to advanced.

“I'm deeply honoured, and humbled, by the Order of Australia,” said Professor Hill. “I regard it as a powerful recognition of the importance educational links play in our vital relationship with Indonesia.

“Education is transformative and as educators we have a profound role to play in our society.”

Despite his personal achievements, Professor Hill said he still many ambitions to fulfill and he will continue to work towards promoting a greater understanding of Indonesia’s culture, society, language and religions in Australia.

“I am looking to a time when a period of living and studying in Indonesia will be a natural part of Australian education, and when Australians will regard speaking a language other than English as a normal part of our social and cultural life,” he said.

“I am delighting in the process of watching younger colleagues and graduates take up the challenge of sustaining and promoting our engagement with Indonesia, of seeing the transition to newer generations both here and in Indonesia.”

Closer to home, Professor Hill said his family was proud of his honour, particularly his 92-year-old mother.

“Like any family they teased me just enough to ensure it didn't go to my head!” He added.

“I have been particularly touched by the warm comments of particular friends whom I greatly respect and whose public service has been far greater than mine.”

The honour follows success for Professor Hill in the Australia-Indonesia Association’s inaugural Australia-Indonesia Awards. He was rewarded at a ceremony in November for services to the bilateral relationship in the field of education.

Professor Searcy hopes to use the recognition from her honour encourage attendance at the Murdoch University After School Program, which has been running on the Murdoch University South Street Campus since 2000.

The sessions are designed to help pupils aged 10 to 17 realise their full potential in mathematics and science and is open to any child who wants to learn and is well behaved.

“The program is above all fun and it gives the children the chance to enjoy these subjects before they are told they are difficult. The pupils work at their own pace and are able to consult each other as well as the tutors – they just have to be reasonably behaved and keen to learn,” said Professor Searcy.

“We’ve had some great successes. Two pupils have represented Australia at the International Science Olympiad in Moscow, Russia where they competed against the brightest in the world. One was awarded a silver medal after completing a five hour exam while the other won a bronze medal.”

The after school classes run on Mondays for physics, Thursdays for chemistry and Fridays for mathematics. For more information, email, or call 0407 982 349.

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