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Westpac to back social innovators with $50,000 fellowships

5 July, 2017


The Westpac Bicentennial Foundation is calling for driven social innovators to apply for its annual Westpac Social Change Fellowship, with 10 fellowships valued at $50,000 each available.


Now in its third year, the Westpac Social Change Fellowship gives individuals the time and space to develop the skills, knowledge and networks to accelerate their growth as a social innovator.


Susan Bannigan, CEO, Westpac Bicentennial Foundation, said the Westpac Social Change Fellowship is unique in its approach, investing in the professional development of an individual, rather than funding their social initiative.


“To overcome the entrenched social issues facing Australia we need to invest in developing the capabilities of the people driving social change. The Westpac Social Change Fellowship does this by offering individuals an accelerated period of learning and development that will directly enhance their ability to lead change,” Ms Bannigan said.


Successful recipients will have the opportunity to design their own bespoke development plan over a six month period. This may involve engaging with global thought leaders and industry experts, training, mentoring or building stronger connections.


Sarah Yates is a 2016 Social Change Fellow and co-founder of Alongside, a West Australian organisation that provides support services for families of frontline personnel suffering PTSD. The Fellowship gave Sarah the opportunity to extend her support services beyond Western Australia to families into the Northern Territory.


“The Westpac Social Change Fellowship allowed Alongside to scale-up. I was able to spend significant amounts of time in the Northern Territory. We were able to talk to the families, find out what it was like for them to live in communities and what they needed from an education and support service like Alongside. The Fellowship essentially allowed us to do the work we needed to do to obtain a contract with Northern Territory Police,” Sarah said.


The Fellowship also provides face-to-face opportunities for the recipients to connect and collaborate at the annual Westpac Scholars’ Summit and the Westpac Changemakers Conference.


“The current Social Change Fellows are such an inspiring bunch of people from all walks of life. Being able to work with them over the last 18 months has really enhanced my skills as a leader of a not-for-profit,” Sarah said.


The Fellowship is open to people from any sector, the selection criteria focuses on the qualities of the person, and their demonstrated experience in driving change.


“The Fellowship is not limited to the social sector. We have occupational therapists, an architect, and tradesman amongst our existing Fellows. It comes down to key qualities. We are looking for the ambitious social changemakers in your communities who are known for their generosity of spirit. The collaborators open to new ideas and networks, who are ready to take the next step in their development as a social innovator,” Ms Bannigan said.


In addition to funding, recipients will also become a member of the Westpac100 Scholars’ Network, growing by 100 scholars a year, forever.


Applications close 16 August 2017.


To apply or find out more, visit