Sports towards scholarships





I could not tell you the difference between rugby union and rugby league, or the difference between a Geelong Cat and a Brisbane Lion. However, I’ve always enjoyed Abbotsleigh’s Sports Lunch – guest panellists have talked about their sporting achievements, and also shared insights into facing life’s challenges, goal setting, life in the public eye and how physical wellbeing has contributed to their lives and inspired others. Previous guests have included Laurie Daley AM, Libby Trickett OAM, Nick Farr-Jones AM, Raelene Boyle AM, MBE and Kurt Fearnley OAM.

Although I’m not a keen sports follower, I am passionate about facilitating the generosity of our community towards Abbotsleigh’s Indigenous Scholarships program. 

Parents often ask me questions about philanthropy at Abbotsleigh, so with the 2017 Sports Lunch one month away, it’s the perfect time to answer some of those questions. By the way, next year, we’ll be holding an evening event with a different theme, and in 2019 we’ll be back again with our popular Sports Lunch. 

Who will be at the 2017 Sports Lunch?
You can expect to hear from Rob de Castella AO, MBE, founder of the Indigenous Marathon Project, Marcia Ella-Duncan OAM, first Indigenous Australian to represent Australia in netball, Emily Seebohm OAM, Olympic swimmer and recent medal winner at the World Swimming Championships and Michael O’Loughlin, former Sydney Swans player and member of the Indigenous Team of the Century. Tracey Holmes from ABC NewsRadio and Peter Longman, former Editor ABC Radio Sport, are also generously donating their time and expertise to entertain us and help make a difference to Indigenous educational disadvantage.

Why do we combine sport with fundraising for Indigenous Scholarships?
Abbotsleigh’s first Sports Lunch was held in 2012, in the lead up to building the award-winning Judith Poole Sports Hall. Our school is known for its commitment to girls’ fitness and sports development and as our annual lunch was so popular, we decided to continue the tradition, but direct philanthropy towards our Indigenous Scholarships. In 2016, in addition to the panel of Gorden Tallis, Braith Anasta and Alyssa Healy, we heard a moving speech from an Abbotsleigh mother about how much an Indigenous Scholarship meant to her daughter and their family.

Why does Abbotsleigh raise funds for its Indigenous Scholarships program?
We partner with not for profit Indigenous organisation Yalari to fund the tuition and boarding for approximately 12 Indigenous girls each year. Means-tested support is also provided by the Federal government via Abstudy. The average cost to the School for an Indigenous Scholarship is $19,000. We are committed to continuing this modest but important contribution to redressing educational disadvantage among Indigenous Australians.

What do you mean by educational disadvantage among Indigenous Australians?
We recognise that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a unique place as the original inhabitants of Australia. The statistics are confronting – Indigenous children are the most educationally disadvantaged group in Australia. In November 2016 the Overcoming Indigenous Disadvantage report noted that:
- In 2015 the school attendance rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students was 84%, compared with 93% for non Indigenous students. 
- The proportion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 20-24 year olds completing Year 12 in 2014 15 was 62% compared with 88% for non Indigenous Australians.
- The employment to population rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 
        15-64 year olds in 2014 15 was 48% compared to 75% for non Indigenous Australians.

What do our Indigenous graduates do after they leave school?
Our first Indigenous students graduated in 2013. Hannah Ranby was one of them, and here you can watch a video where she talks about what a scholarship at Abbotsleigh meant for her. Some of our Indigenous students are working and some have continued to higher study, and others, like our non-Indigenous students, enjoy an enriching gap year after their HSC. No matter their path beyond school, we know that Abbotsleigh students are all supported here to reach their full potential and graduate with an appreciation of the value of an excellent education, with a will to serve their communities and the courage to make a positive difference. Our 2016 graduates were Sheldyn, who would like to study primary teaching and return home to teach children in Moree, and Jessicah, who is studying primary education at UTS. 

I won’t be at the Sports Lunch – how do I make a gift to support Indigenous Scholarships at Abbotsleigh?
Gifts to support Indigenous Scholarships are tax deductible and can be made online here – you will be immediately emailed a receipt.


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