06 October 2010
Three decades of academic leadership
Professor Des Cahill is a leading authority on intercultural and interfaith questions.
- It’s an honour for RMIT 21/06/2010
The recent award of the Medal of the Order of Australia recognised more than three decades of academic leadership by Des Cahill, Professor of Intercultural Studies at RMIT University.
Professor Cahill, from the School of Global Studies, Social Science and Planning, was honoured for "service to intercultural education and the interfaith movement".
He is one of Australia's leading researchers and teachers in the areas of immigrant and cross-cultural studies.
In the early 1980s, Professor Cahill was responsible for the development of the Vietnamese and Greek programs at Phillip Institute of Technology, which amalgamated with RMIT in 1992. The programs contributed to the development of the Vietnamese and Greek communities.
Professor Cahill has served as editor of the Journal of Vietnamese Studies and Migration Monitor, the Australian correspondent for Asian Migrant, and is presently on the editorial board of the Asian and Pacific Migration Journal.
In the area of policy and program evaluation, he has led major projects, particularly in the area of multicultural education and ethnic youth, some of which have involved working with the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs.
Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Professor Cahill focused heavily in the education and ethnic youth sectors, where he conducted pioneering studies. Some of his achievements during this period include:
Redeveloping and managing the Graduate Diploma of Educational Studies (Teaching English as a Second Language), preparing specialist teachers for teaching English to school students and adult immigrants.
Leading the research team in 1983–84 evaluating, for the Commonwealth Schools Commission, the nationwide Commonwealth Multicultural Education Program conducted for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Conducting for the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet the first major evaluative study of ethnic minority youth, Ethnic Youth: Their Assets and Aspirations (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 1988), followed in subsequent years by two other major studies, Australian Youth towards the Year 2001 (Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet 1988) and "The access and equity strategy: its impact upon ethnic minority young people".
More recently, Professor Cahill's community focus has been concentrated in the area of religion, conflict, and globalisation. Since the events of 11 September, 2001, he has played a vital role in researching and bringing together the various faith communities in Australia and across the world through his research and community activities.
Professor Cahill chairs the Australian chapter of the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP) - the world's largest interfaith organisation – and represents Australia on the executive committee of the Asian Conference of Religion and Peace (ACRP).
He is a member of the Australian Partnership of Religious Organisations (APRO) and also of the Victoria Police Multifaith Advisory Council.
In 2004 in association with the Australian Multicultural Foundation, he led the project, Religion, Cultural Diversity and Safeguarding Australia for the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs.
Also in 2004, Professor Cahill was recognised by the Australian Intercultural Society, which presented him with the Australian Together award in recognition of his contribution to national harmony.
In 2006, he was made an honorary fellow of the Australian Council of Educational Leaders for his work in immigrant, cross-cultural, interfaith and international education over three decades. In July 2007, he was made a Club Melbourne Ambassador as part of the "Think Melbourne, Think Victoria" strategy.
Professor Cahill is also the author of more than 40 pieces of academic writing, including nine books. He is heavily involved in cross-cultural research and the supervision of research students as well as making frequent appearances on the radio and other media outlets.