UNSW Canberra Professor Catherine Althaus was recently named an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

Professor Althaus described the appointment as a “great honour”, and she is looking forward to continuing her research on Indigenous concepts of public sector leadership.

“The University of Pretoria takes pride in producing 'socially impactful research to find solutions for the world's most pressing issues’,” Professor Althaus said.

“That's a cause that I am committed to meeting with my new colleagues at the School of Public Management and Administration in their Faculty of Economic and Management Science.”

The three-year renewable appointment will see Professor Althaus map out a program of activities with the school, including research, student advice, supervision and support, and collaborations with faculty colleagues.

“I will also act as something of an ambassador for the University of Pretoria, finding ways to promote the great work they do in the South African context and beyond, and securing connection points with relevant bodies in the Trans-Tasman region,” Professor Althaus said.

Professor Althaus said her work on Indigenous concepts in public leadership and administration, was of particular interest to the University of Pretoria.

“I know I share a passion and interest in this work that focuses on the huge benefits of (re)introducing the wisdom of ancient and ever-flourishing Indigenous civilisations to the traditionally western form of bureaucracy,” Professor Althaus said.

“Through my past work in Canada and with my current role as ANZSOG Chair of Public Service Leadership and Reform, I know we have particularly important opportunities to explore in Australia and Aotearoa-New Zealand to bring the depth of experience and innovation into policymaking processes and public sector institutions that come from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and Māori.”

“Meanwhile the University of Pretoria is committed to capability building and encouraging research and practical support for unique South African forms of leadership, turning to ideas of ubuntu.”

Professor Althaus’ recent work includes a comparative study of indigenous public service leadership, Leading from Between; an article exploring ways to embrace and honour indigenous knowledge, published by the Australian Journal of Public Administration; and a chapter for the Palgrave Handbook of the Public Servant entitled, ‘Cultural fluency training for the twenty-first-century public servant’.

Professor Althaus has also recently partnered with the ACT Public Service Commission to offer a funded PhD project addressing structural and everyday racism in ACT Public Service settings. This work will contribute directly to shifting the dial on how racism is recognised and eradicated.

“I'm really excited to leverage the opportunity to link the University of Pretoria with the fantastic work we do at the Public Service Research Group and the broader School of Business at UNSW Canberra, and to make direct connections with fabulous colleagues at different touchpoints within and across UNSW Canberra,” Professor Althaus said.

“These are momentous times for public services and the leadership they exercise in our communities. Being able to work in the global community to reform and make positive change to embrace the contributions of all members of society is an incredible opportunity and one that I am proud to be part of.”