Meeting the president of Tanzania

Published: Wednesday 5th August 2015


ACU lecturer in social work, Dr Jean Burke was invited to a State lunch in honour of the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr Jikaya Mrisho Kikwete, and his wife, Mama Salma Kikwete.

The State banquet at Government House, Canberra was hosted by the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Sir Peter Cosgrove, who was the former Chancellor of ACU, and by Lady Cosgrove.

Jean discovered a number of connections between herself and the Tanzanian official party: her sons had attended the same school as one of the President’s sons, and she had worked closely with a former teacher of the President’s Aide de camp.

The invitation recognised ACU’s contribution to research of international significance and positions ACU as meaningfully engaged at diplomatic levels.

Jean lectures in social work, within the School of Allied Health, Faculty of Health in the Strathfield campus and is the course co-ordinator of the Bachelor of Social Work.

Jean was invited as an HIV researcher from ACU, as she and her family had lived in Tanzania for 12 years, working closely with the Anglican Church of Tanzania with particular emphasis on HIV work and research.

Jean’s PhD focused on Community attitudes towards HIV and infant feeding in Central Tanzania. The President showed interest in where Jean had conducted her HIV research, and the Governor-General commented on her representation of ACU and fluency in Swahili.

HIV is a significant concern in Tanzania where there is a high prevalence rate (5.1 per cent) and transmission is mainly within heterosexual relationships or affects infants.

Development and education work and increased accessibility to prevention and medical treatment has improved the situation in the country but many still experience stigma and risks to their health and life.

Jean continues to research on health and human rights issues in East Africa, particularly affecting people with albinism (albinos). She is informally linked with St John’s University, Dodoma, Tanzania and Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.