Preston Parter is one of a handful of First Nations principals within Queensland and takes his role in rural and remote education leadership seriously. A principal with the Department of Education for more than 10 years, his career spans 16 years in a variety of locations and positions.
Preston is a proud Birri Gubba man from Bowen in North Queensland and has an intense passion for Indigenous language revival. At Eidsvold State School, he made an impact with the Wakka Wakka language reclamation program, which will soon be recognised in the short documentary, Winning Language, produced by the Department of Education.
At Eidsvold State School, Preston contended with complexities including high staff turnover, a large Indigenous student and low socio-economic population. He leveraged the area’s diversity to create a place everyone belonged to, by introducing high expectations, culturally appropriate approaches and strong partnerships across the K-12 school campus. This approach helped build staff capabilities and provided students with a sense of belonging. Preston also re-engaged the area’s Indigenous community members and elders’ group to provide input into the school and language curriculum.
He was formerly the First Nations co-chair for the Queensland Association of State School Principals (QASSP), First Nations vice president of the Queensland Association of Combined Sector Leaders (QACSL) and is a member of the Queensland College for Teachers (QCT) Gandu Jarjum Committee. Preston has received several awards recognising his work, including the 2020 QLD Reconciliation Awards, the 2021 Showcase Awards for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Education, and a QACSL Equity and Excellence Award. He is also an avid boxing coach and an honorary Ambulance officer.
Preston is described as someone who builds up others around him and puts his school communities on the map by sharing their stories. He has embedded non-negotiables into school culture including staff upskilling of the local area, visibility of cultural practices and Wakka Wakka language usage. He has also supported other local schools to incorporate Indigenous languages through modelled lessons, feedback, and planning.
In his nomination, colleagues wrote:
“Preston’s leadership has created a culture within the school where all student, staff and community backgrounds are valued and embraced.”