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Expert Viewpoints - Tapping into Wisdom

Panel 4- Expert Viewpoints

Friday 2nd August, 11:30am | Grand Ballroom 

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Panel Chair:
Professor Lee Anne Perry AM

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Professor Donna Pendergast AM

Panellist Bios

Panel Chair

Professor Lee Anne Perry AM

Professor of Practice, Faculty of Creative Industries, Education and Social Justice, QUT

Professor Lee Anne Perry AM is the inaugural Professor of Practice (Educational Leadership and Partnerships) at QUT. Prior to commencing in this role in March 2023, Professor Perry had a longstanding involvement in school education as a teacher, school and system leader including over twenty-five years as a principal.

Lee Anne is a passionate advocate for education from the early years to higher education and is particularly committed to supporting collaboration, partnerships and connections within and between education sectors and systems.

Professor Donna Pendergast AM

Director of Engagement, Office of the Pro-Vice Chancellor, Arts, Education and Law & Professor of Education, Griffith University

Professor Donna Pendergast is Director, Engagement in the Arts, Education and Law Group and former Dean and Head of the School of Education and Professional Studies at Griffith University, Australia (2009-2023). She commenced her career as a secondary school teacher. Her expertise includes student engagement and teacher professional learning. Donna works at state and national levels shaping education policy including as: a member of the Board of the Australian Institute of Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) (2018-); Chair of the Teacher Education Expert Standing Committee (TEESC) of AITSL (2019-); and in the former roles as Chair of the Queensland Educational Leadership Institute (QELi) (2018-2022); Chair of the Queensland Council of Deans of Education (QCDE)(2016-2022) and Vice President of the Australian Council of Deans of Education (ACDE (2021-2022). Donna is a member of the National Council for Be You, the school based well-being arm of Beyond Blue (2021-). She is a passionate middle years advocate and is an ambassador of Adolescent Success. Donna has been acknowledged for her leadership impact and is the recipient of the Griffith University Vice Chancellor’s Research Supervision Award for Excellence (2016); Australian Council for Educational Leadership Miller-Grassie Award for Outstanding Leadership in Education (2018); Australian Council of Deans of Education Award for Outstanding Service to Education and the Council (2022). In 2024 she was invested as a Member of the Order of Australia, received n the first King Charles Australia Day Awards, for significant contributions to education.

Dr James Curran

CEO & Director, Grok Academy

Dr. James Curran is the CEO of Grok Academy, an Australian ed-tech charity with a mission to educate all learners in transformative computing skills, knowledge, and dispositions, empowering them to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of the future.


James was a writer on the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies (version 8 and 9) and the Digital Literacy capability (version 9). He consults with curriculum authorities and departments of education around Australia. In 2014, James was named ICT Leader of the Year by the ICT Educators of NSW and the Australian Council for Computers in Education.


James is Director of the National Computer Science School, the largest computer science school outreach program in Australia. Last year, over 22,500 students and teachers participated in the 5-week NCSS Challenge.


Prior to Grok Academy, James completed a PhD in computational linguistics at the University of Edinburgh and was an Associate Professor and Director of the Australian Computing Academy (ACA) at the University of Sydney. James co-founded Grok Learning in 2013, and in 2021, the ACA and Grok Learning combined to form Grok Academy.

Associate Professor Thelma Parker 

Associate Dean (Indigenous Engagement)

Thelma is a proud Waluwarra Wangkayujuru Wangkaymunha woman raised on Kalkadoon Country. 

As Associate Dean (Indigenous Engagement), Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland, Thelma continues to make a meaningful contribution to her cultural heritage by building a strong sense of belonging and inclusivity with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, staff and communities in teaching, learning, research, and collaboration. Thelma has accepted a board member for the Australian Education Research Organisation recently, where she has been instrumental in driving innovative education programs focused on First Nations perspectives and engagement that empower disadvantaged young people and young people in remote communities to pursue education.

Thelma has held several key leadership positions including Colleges Principal, Head of School, Edmund Rice Flexible Learning Centre; Senior Lecturer, Australian Catholic University; Senior Education Officer, at Townsville Catholic Education Office and Director at Barrier Reef Institute of TAFE Townsville and was Inaugural Chairperson of Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) Flexible Learning Schools. Thelma is widely considered a subject matter expert in the planning and execution of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander programs and has led truth-telling initiatives for over 10,000 participants. Thelma was awarded Woman of the Year (1998 & 2000), Female of the Year (2003) and NAIDOC Women of the Year (2004) and is enthusiastic about pursuing continuous learning and professional development by currently studying for a Doctor in Philosophy in Cultural Humanity.

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Associate Professor
Thelma Parker

Dr. James Curran

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