$1.3 million in grants, a new scholarship program at James Cook University and a special alumni event.
We are delighted to report on another rewarding and eventful year at The George Alexander Foundation (GAF). Without a doubt one of the year’s highlights was a special alumni event that was held at The State Library of Victoria. The event provided the opportunity for members of the GAF community to meet and connect, and was well attended by current scholars and fellows, alumni and representatives of our partner institutions. We were particularly pleased to see a number of interstate scholars and partners on the night, including one scholar from The Australian Centre for Non-Profit Studies (ACPNS) as well as representatives from Murdoch University and the University of Tasmania.
We thank the Honourable Susan Crennan AC QC, appointed Governor of The George Alexander Foundation and our event host, for her opening speech which wonderfully captured the story of George Alexander and his vision for the Foundation. We also thank the members of our event panel, Rebecca Scott, Vicki Abraham and Cassie Cohen, for sharing their personal and professional journeys and inspiring all those who attended.
Notably, this year saw the Foundation establish its first scholarship program at James Cook University (JCU). The GAF Undergraduate Scholarships Program will support undergraduate students from rural and regional areas to study at JCU. Given JCU’s two regional campuses in Townsville and Cairns, a high proportion of its students are from rural and regional backgrounds and require support to attend university. This new program will help address this growing need for student support. Fittingly, the university’s emphasis on ecology and environmental research also strongly aligns with the Foundation’s two principal focuses: the environment and education.
We were pleased to renew four of the Foundation’s scholarship programs, which is testament to the quality of the programs run by these partner institutions. GAF scholarship programs at Swinburne University, Griffith University and Victoria University were renewed for another three years, and the Earthwatch Student Challenge Program was also extended for a further three years.
It is always gratifying to see the hard work and talent of our scholars and fellows recognised. Louise Nicholas, a 2016 GAF scholar, was recently awarded Vocational Student of the Year at the 2017 Victorian Training Awards, after earlier this year winning Vocational Student of the Year for 2016 at The Gordon Awards for Excellence. Meanwhile Aidan Mackinnon, knife maker and one of our 2016 ISSI fellows, was awarded Gold in the Maker Design - Materials category at the Melbourne Driven x Design Awards. We congratulate both Louise and Aidan as we continue to be inspired by the many accomplishments of GAF scholars and fellows.
This year we welcomed 67 new scholars and fellows as well as 30 Earthwatch Student Challenge participants to the GAF community, which now exceeds 900 members. It is our hope that this community will continue to grow, and that future alumni events and initiatives such as the alumni group founded by ACPNS scholars earlier this year, lead to meaningful connections between members of this diverse and gifted group.
Charles Goode AC
Chief Executive Officer