I was invited as the one representing Indian Australian community.
Mr Lindsay Maxsted (Westpac Group Chairman), Mrs Gail Kelly (Chief Executive Officer), and the Hon. Julie Bishop MP (Minister for Foreign Affairs) launched WESTPAC Bicentennial Foundation on 2nd April, 2014.
The announcement was made during a high profile Luncheon at Hyde Park Barracks, in which close to 400 people from Sydney’s “who is who”, including Malcolm Turnbull (Federal Telecommunication Minister) and Barry O’Farrell (Premier of NSW) were present.
This Foundation is a part of Westpac’s upcoming 200th anniversary year in 2017, and is the single largest private education scholarship program in Australia’s history, and will have an exclusive focus on the education and advancement of Australians.
I was not surprised to hear about Westpac’s already very impressive list of benevolent and charity activities, and contributions to our communities. In 2013, their community contributions totalled $131 million. This is in addition to The Family of Giving, which encompasses their four existing charitable funds of Westpac Foundation, St George Foundation, Bank of Melbourne Neighbourhood Fund and BankSA & Staff Charitable Fund, which last year distributed more than $4.1 million in grants to support charities and social enterprises. Today’s announcement further builds on their community outreach and support, and will help build Australia’s future leadership capabilities.
Details of the Scholarships
Scholarships and awards will be granted by the Foundation in partnership with Australian universities. Currently planned scholarships and awards programs are:
Future Leaders scholarships will be awarded to new or recent graduates for post-graduate study at a prestigious global institution, with preference given to Australia’s relationship with Asia and Technology & Innovation.
Best and Brightest program will provide awards to post-doctoral researchers in Australia’s leading research universities, with focus of helping strengthen Australia’s ties with Asian economies
The Young Technologists program will offer 30 to 40 three-year undergraduate scholarships each year, awarded for merit, to encourage diversity.
Asian Exchange scholarships will provide the opportunity for Australian undergraduate students to spend a semester at a leading Asian University, with a focus on increasing the number of Asia-literate graduates in Australia.
The Community Leaders program will provide 10 awards annually to community leaders to undertake a personal educational opportunity that will have a direct value to their community.
The programs will be developed progressively and are expected to be fully operational by 2017.
I was particularly happy to see that scholarships will be available to Australian students to do a semester in one of the leading Universities of Asia, which will increase the numbers of Asia-literate students in Australia. This is very important because we’re in an Asian Century, and many of our major trading partners are from Asia.
The new Foundation will ensure Private Sector continues to play an important part in shaping Australia’s future and economic prosperity.
With this great initiative from Westpac, I am hopeful that other major Private Institutions in Australia will come forward with their initiatives in this arena.
Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/7th April, 2014