The first in his family to graduate from university, Professor Jioji Ravulo is also the first person of Pasifika heritage to become a professor at an Australian university and currently holds the position of Chair of Social Work and Policy Studies in the Sydney School of Education and Social Work at The University of Sydney. 

Falling into the world of academia, Professor Ravulo finished his doctorate out of a desire to create empirical research which further helped understand why there were certain over-representations happening in the youth justice system, especially for marginalised community groups like Pacific Islander Youth and Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander Youth. 

Creating Inclusionary Spaces

Professor Ravulo is committed to creating inclusionary spaces for diversity in all shapes and forms. He sees queerness as an opportunity to be proud of himself whilst also being an ally to other areas of diversity. “Queerness is one where we try to live beyond binaries, or gender norms, or sexuality norms and encourage other people to journey alongside us as part of our lived experience.

“For me, being queer helps me to position more of a bigger picture and a fluid understanding of society rather than this fixed and static perception that society generally places on everyone”, he said. 

The diversity of people and their myriad of experiences is helpful, he asserts, in creating “ally ships to mobilise a critical mass towards possible solutions together.” 

When asked what drove him to be a social worker, Professor Ravulo noted that through his own lived experience of growing up in public housing in Western Sydney, he saw both the need and opportunity to be involved in “creating conversations that would make a difference.” 

Fluidity Of Pacific Sexuality Pre-Colonisation

His research into how diversity can play out in ethnically diverse communities is underlined in a paper published earlier this year, titled Exploring the Role of Sexuality and Identity Across the Pacific which looked at the fluidity of Pacific sexuality prior to colonisation. Sexuality was viewed as a form of social connection before Western ideas of morality and shame were introduced. 

Professor Ravulo will be appearing in two programs as part of the upcoming Sydney Writer’s Festival, Straight Up Islander and Queer Stories. His inclusion in the Straight Up Islander panel is based on a piece written for SBS Voices last year where he explores the tensions that exist while growing up ethnically different.

In trying to feel at home with his identity, he untangles “how I sat in my own Pacifikaness, my own cultural identity” and hopes to mobilise social change through the experience of ‘difference’. As a panellist for Queer Stories, Professor Ravulo will share a story that he’s never shared previously and will wrangle with the sense of connection he holds within the queer community as an out and proud queer individual.

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