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Westpac to back innovators with a plan to improve Australia


2 June 2015

Applications open today for the inaugural Westpac Social Change Fellowship, a program for talented and inspirational Australians who have the drive to tackle some of the tough social issues facing the nation.

Ten fellowships of up to $50,000 will be awarded in December to individuals who have the vision and commitment to deliver an initiative that will improve the lives of Australia's most vulnerable. The aim is to give recipients time and space to develop the skills, knowledge and networks they'll need to bring their idea to life. This may involve travel, work experience, research or building stronger connections that will directly enhance their ability to lead their project.

 "Investing in people from all walks of life to achieve their vision for social change is critical if we are to overcome fundamental social issues, and advance Australia with new perspectives, insights and skills," said Susan Bannigan, CEO, Westpac Bicentennial Foundation.

"Despite being one of the wealthiest and most advanced countries in the world, almost 14% of our population are sitting below the poverty line1 ; our youth unemployment rate sits at 13.65%11 and suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44111 .  Now more than ever we need to invest in people with the drive to make a difference."

In addition to funding, successful recipients will also have lifelong access to a network of highly capable and committed people through the Westpac Scholars Alumni program, which will provide ongoing opportunities for collaboration and idea generation to drive social change.

"The objective of the Westpac Scholars Alumni program is to connect and inspire. Scholars will have opportunities to collaborate, drawing on one another's expertise to unlock bold ideas that will shape Australia. Each year the Alumni will grow by 100 Scholars from each of Westpac Bicentennial Foundation's five scholarship programs, bringing together a diversity of skills, backgrounds and perspectives."

Applications close on 16 August 2015. People from any sector who are passionate about making a difference are encouraged to apply. Visit to find out more.

Westpac Bicentennial Foundation is a scholarship fund with an exclusive focus on the education and advancement of Australians. An initial contribution of $100 million will fund 100 scholarships and awards every year, forever. The Foundation was launched as a gift to future generations of Australians to commemorate Westpac's 200th anniversary in 2017.



i ACOSS Poverty in Australia

ii ABS - Labour Force Australia

iii Australian Institute of Health and Welfare "Mortality and life expectancy of Indigenous Australians 2008 to 2012" report