Grant Opportunity

Mary MacKillop Today
Lvl 5, 12 Mount Street
North Sydney, NSW, 2060

First Nations Tertiary Scholarships Program -

Mission and Vision: Guided by the Gospel, we stand with the marginalised poor, the rural and remote, in Australia and internationally, so they can realise their potential and participate fully in their communities. We seek to empower and transform lives through self-determination, access to education and the learning of practical life skills.

Mary MacKillop Today works in partnership with local communities to help create generational change in Australia and internationally. We aim to empower people living in vulnerable circumstances and enhance their quality of life through education, health literacy, financial inclusion and livelihoods.

We have three programs in Australia and nine international programs:

Our First Nations Tertiary Scholarship program has been evolving for 20 years and meets the education needs of the most marginalised and financially excluded Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people across Australia. The Financial Inclusion Program is focused on supporting low income earners in rural NSW and our Community Grants Program helps vulnerable and marginalised people across their country.

Our Timor-Leste office has 32 Timorese staff with deep connections to local communities. Direct project beneficiaries include pre-primary and primary school children, teachers and parents/carers. Mary MacKillop Today has developed 28 Tetun-literacy books that form part of the national curriculum. Our education programs are recognised by the Ministry of Education (partner) and other sector stakeholders as being integrated into wider government and civil society efforts to assist Timor-Leste achieve long-term sustainable development.

In PNG, Fiji and Peru we work with and through local partners in education, health and livelihoods programs which seek to provide localised responses to the underlying causes of poverty and inequality. Our partnership approach is built on shared learning, mutual accountability, equity and local ownership. We (and our partners) work alongside a range of government and non-government actors.

Our key activities include:
*Developing, implementing, administering, managing, coordinating and evaluating programs, projects, initiatives and/or innovation that positively change lives and communities.
*Building capacity through participation, education and training.
*Developing skills that foster income generation, financial literacy, budgeting, and microfinance.
*Advocating for and supporting programs that encourage self-determination.

  • Total Requested Amount
  • Total Raised From Donors
  • Remaining Goal

Project Details

Postcode where activity will take place: 6725

Start Date: 01/01/2019

End Date: 01/01/2020

Target Population:

  • Indigenous Australians

Field of Interest:

  • Education > Higher education
  • Education > Equal opportunity in education

Project Summary:

There have been over 120 successful graduates from our First Nations Tertiary Scholarship Programs. Many of them were the first in their families to gain a tertiary education. The Program has evolved over the last 20 years with the most recent (external) evaluation in 2018 recommending further prioritisation of those most affected by marginalisation and exclusion. In response to this, we have grown the program to include a new stream, Stream 2.
*Stream 1- National tertiary scholarship program
*Stream 2- Piloting a geographically-focused program focusing on higher education in the Kimberley Region

Stream 2 supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students achieve their tertiary goals through diverse and alternative pathways. By partnering with local organisations, students at secondary level and those who have disengaged from education, are encouraged to aspire to and achieve their goals through the pathways available. Stream 2 will extend the scholarships to support students through bridging, TAFE and university degrees (with preference given to first degrees/Bachelor degrees). In partnership with local organisations and an community-based Aboriginal Liaison Officer, we will be able to better ensure that students have access to the culturally appropriate support needed. The Kimberley was selected as the geographic focus because it has been identified as an area most affected by exclusion in the education sector and has poor health and education outcomes. Stream 2 prioritises strong community partnerships with key Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ organisations working to bridge the gap between rural and remote communities and tertiary education providers. For example, we are expanding an already excellent partnership with the University of Notre Dame in Broome.

The geographic focus (of the Kimberley) is being treated as a pilot during which a comprehensive data is being collected to monitor the effectiveness of the project design and the possibility for expansion and replication in other areas. We are working with Aboriginal Research Networks trained by a local institution to develop a baseline to ensure effective monitoring and evaluation of the outcomes of the program.

This program was developed in acknowledgement of the exclusion faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in the education sector and demonstrates a positive response to minimising the financial barriers faced.

Project Outcomes:

The anticipated outcomes of Stream 2 include:
1. An increased number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the Kimberly are aspiring to engage in and access higher education.
2. An increased number Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students in the Kimberly are achieving their individual academic goals.
3. Mary MacKillop Today has developed and strengthened quality partnerships and relationships with local-community organisations and education providers.
4. Stream 2 has been tested and implemented in a culturally appropriate and enriching environment.
5. Good quality data is available as a baseline and to inform expansion of Stream 2.

These outcomes will be measured through various methods including:
*The establishment of a baseline study which will seek to provide a snapshot of current attitudes towards higher learning pathways. The study will also provide quantitative data around average application, enrolment and course completion rates in the target locations.
*A survey for incoming students will measure attitudes towards and understanding of higher learning pathways, perceptions around support services available in tertiary institutions. It will also collect demographic data including age, location, employment history, and highest educational attainment.
*As part of our monitoring plan, key indicators will be used to measure achievements towards our objectives and outputs.
*Monitoring tools and methodologies are currently being developed collaboratively with the Aboriginal Research Network at a local institution.

In partnership with a network of Aboriginal researchers trained in Aboriginal research methods MMT will develop a baseline to be used for monitoring and evaluation. Key indicators to assess the reach and impact of the program on different genders will be established and used as part of our monitoring and evaluation. Students will be surveyed bi-annually by the ALO as part of the support process and MMT staff will engage in formal monitoring annually.

With regards to beneficiaries, the pilot is intended to benefit 100 First Nations students and 10 intermediate beneficiaries. End beneficiaries include 15 scholarship recipients as well other students and community members engaged by the ALO and partner organisations. These beneficiaries will access the ALO through their schools as well as through referral by community organisation.
Intermediary beneficiaries include the ALO, community org staff and the network of Aboriginal researchers employed to establish a baseline.

Budget Details

Total Budget: $242,000


Income item Price ($)
Individual Donors (confirmed) 74,000
Special Interest Groups (confirmed) 46,000
General (Parish donations, stamps, schools) 34,000
Trusts & Foundations (unconfirmed) 88,000


Expense item Price ($)
Aboriginal Liaison Officer 85,000
Monitoring 5,000
Scholarships 75,000
Tertiary Aspriation and Access Program development & implementation 77,000

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