Australia Day honours for NSW educators

Former and current NSW Department of Education staff have been recognised for their work in the annual honours list.

A young Aboriginal boy reads a book
Image: Changemaker: The late Cindy Berwick had a huge impact on Aboriginal education in NSW.

Ground-breaking educators from the NSW public system are among the eminent Australians honoured today for their service to the community as part of the Australia Day honours.

The late Cindy Berwick, the president of the NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group from 2008 to 2021, was posthumously made a Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM).

Technology 4 Learning director Mark Greentree received the Public Service Medal for his commitment and leadership in the field of digital learning and innovation to support education in NSW.

NSW Department of Education Secretary Georgina Harrisson congratulated educators across all sectors who had been honoured.

However, she said the recognition of Ms Berwick and Mr Greentree exemplified the excellence within the NSW public education sector.

“Cindy Berwick was an inspiration to everyone who works in Aboriginal education and her memory continues to drive us to improve academic outcomes for the community she cherished,” Ms Harrisson said.

“Mark Greentree’s honour is also recognition of the great team he leads and the outstanding work it has done in ensuring our students and staff could pivot to learning from home seamlessly when COVID-19 struck.”

School Performance, Deputy Secretary Murat Dizdar said Ms Berwick’s recognition was well deserved.

Mr Dizdar described her as a “fearless educator who was driven every day to make a difference for Aboriginal students and their communities”.

“She supported and held to account those charged with shaping young Aboriginal lives and never relented from the transformative power of education,” Mr Dizdar said.

Ms Berwick, who died late last year and was a proud Ngunnawal woman, was honoured for significant service to the indigenous community of NSW, particularly through education.

A former teacher, she developed the NSW Premier’s Priority on Aboriginal education and was behind the development of Aboriginal language and culture camps, STEM camps for Aboriginal students and Aboriginal culture and literacy programs.

In his current role, Mr Greentree was responsible for the delivery of more than 170,000 computer devices into schools since 2017, which was critical for student learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Greentree’s work improving technology access for Aboriginal students and communities was acknowledged in his citation.

The Technology for Connected Communities Initiative provided 16 schools across 11 communities with expert face-to-face support in the area of technology and mentoring of staff.

Former Penshurst Girls High School music teacher Jennifer King, who retired in 2002, was also awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in the General Division for her services to music education.

Ms King, who started teaching in 1969 and still works supporting HSC students, said she had been receiving lots of calls from former students that she had not spoken to for decades.

“It’s a lovely thing to know that you’ve been able to touch so many lives. All my students are the highlights of my teaching life,” she said.

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