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Rotary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Tertiary Scholarship

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Rotary International celebrated its Centenary on February 23rd, 2005. In recognition of this important milestone, the Rotary Club of Balwyn established a Scholarship for Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander students to study at an approved tertiary institution (TAFE, University or other approved institution) for a period of up to four years duration. The inaugural Scholarship was awarded on a bi-ennial basis in 2005 and was followed by another Scholarship in 2007. As a result of significant financial support and sponsorship from the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood as well as Skills Victoria, the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and the Department of Justice (as part of the Victorian Aboriginal Justice Agreement), it has now become possible for multiple Scholarships to be offered on an annual basis. Each Scholarship is worth UP to $100,000 payable over four years as research demonstrated that $25,000 was the minimum amount required for an individual to live for a year with reasonable study conditions and not have to work in part time jobs in order to survive.

The scholarship amount is variable and any other scholarships received over more than one year plus any Centrelink benefits received will be deducted from the maximum scholarship amount of $25,000 pa in order to determine the maximum amount to be paid under this scholarship. The Rotary Club reserves the right to award scholarships which, together with other scholarships and Centrelink benefits totals less than $25,000 pa. By way of example, if a scholarship winner is in receipt of Centrelink benefits of say $9,500 pa plus a small scholarship from their tertiary institution or some other source of $1,500 pa, then the maximum value to be awarded under this scholarship would be $14,000 pa ($25,000 less $11,000). In the above circumstances the maximum scholarship value would be $14,000 pa, however, the Rotary Club of Balwyn reserves the right to award a scholarship of less than $14,000 pa in value (e.g. say $12,000 pa making a total of $23,000 pa). Such a situation would only occur in exceptional circumstances as it is the Club’s intention to award every scholarship to the maximum value of $25,000.

The Rotary Club of Balwyn selects the Scholarship winner(s) on the recommendation of the Scholarship Advisory Board, whose members together with our patrons are shown below.

From its very inception we have always selected our winners as “the person(s) for whom winning the Scholarship will make the greatest life changing experience”. We have never chosen the winners based solely on ATAR scores. In addition to significant funding from the Rotary Club of Balwyn, the majority of external funding comes from the Victorian government and, for this reason, the Scholarship is currently restricted to students from within the Victorian education system. It is our wish to expand (through Rotary) to a national scheme and for this to happen we require a broader range of financial support. It is also heartbreaking to interview applicants each year and to advise those unsuccessful that we are unable to assist them. For many this means that they are unable to undertake tertiary study and they run the risk of descending into lower paid unskilled employment and, in some cases, continued welfare dependency. We chose to offer this Scholarship on the advice of the Indigenous community as they felt that one of the most important contributions to reconciliation was to ensure Australian Aboriginals were able to earn average or above average incomes and thus take their rightful place in Australian society. Tertiary education was seen as the key to achieving this outcome. It would also be of considerable assistance in assisting future generations to regard tertiary education as a normal part of one’s development and to improve Aboriginal retention rates across all levels of education.

Whilst we have had some failures, we have for the most part seen our Scholars enjoy considerable success. Two of our past winners have proceeded to undertake the necessary work to be awarded their PhD and others are successfully employed as qualified professionals.

Each Scholarship winner has two Mentors appointed to them, one a member of the Rotary Club of Balwyn and the other an Indigenous Australian. This is regarded as a key point in ensuring the Scholarship’s success.

Click here for the Scholarship Brochure 2017 & Contacts

Click here for SCHOLARSHIP RULES

Click here for Scholarship Application Formfor 2017


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