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Wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home

Carol Saffer

Professor Rupert Maclean AO said he didn’t suffer from homesickness.

From 1991 to 2009, his role with the United Nations as an education research expert found him living in Myanmar, Paris, Afghanistan, Iran and Liberia.

“I’m so used to living overseas, but Southbank is my main base,” he said.

He and his Japanese wife have had an apartment in the suburb for the past 15 years, where they return to when they are not globe-trotting.

When he lists where he has lived, it is extensive; seven years in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Germany, and shorter stays in many other countries.

Most of his work is research, writing and consultancy, alongside his main field of improving education in developing countries.

“With particular reference to girls’ and women’s education plus for the disadvantaged such as slum dwellers and refugees,” he said.

Professor Maclean lived in Afghanistan in a compound and was escorted by armed guards whenever he left.

He did not make any friends with the Taliban while in Afghanistan due to his work on improving education access for girls and women.

“It, and Iraq, were the most dangerous places I have lived.”

Since leaving the United Nations, his travelling has not let up.

He does research and consultancy for Australian universities and undertakes postings with foreign universities.

Living in Melbourne and teaching at Dandenong High School is a far cry from where his career has taken him.

“I want to do work that I feel makes a difference,” he said.

 

It’s not boring; it’s cutting edge and allows me to meet different people and experience different cultures.

 

Retirement is still on the far horizon, but he said he was taking increasing time to himself.

“As an author of many books and an editor for [international publisher] Springer, this keeps me busy.”

He is not the sort of person to be found sitting at home reading the paper in his slippers.

For relaxation, he likes watching movies, sailing his cruise boat and spending time at the Boyd Community Hub to use the facilities.

“It [Boyd] is a fantastic place,” he said. “I think Southbank is a terrific location.”

“I often walk up to the city as I am a member at the RACV Club and the Melbourne Cricket Club.”  •

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