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Westpac Scholars Trust awards 500 scholarships in first five years

28 October 2021


The Westpac Scholars Trust is celebrating a major milestone having reached its 500th Scholar, since first launching in 2017 with a $100 million donation from Westpac.

Since launch, and in partnership with some of Australia’s leading universities, the Trust has awarded 100 scholarships each year to support the education of Australians who are pioneering new benchmarks in innovation, research and social change. The cost of the scholarships has to date totalled $31 million.

Westpac Scholars Trust Acting CEO, Amy Lyden, said the program demonstrates the bank’s ongoing commitment to helping Australians succeed and backing a stronger Australia.

“The Westpac Scholars Trust is an important part of how we create sustainable, long term value by investing in current and emerging leaders working in areas we believe are at the heart of Australia’s future growth and prosperity,” Ms Lyden said.

“The scholarships are centred around three of these areas: technology and innovation, Australia-Asia ties, and positive social change, and the value of the program is reflected in the journeys and achievements of the first 500 scholars.

“With the support of the program and its networks, many Westpac Scholars have gone on to make significant contributions in a range of fields. Whether through scientific breakthroughs, mental health research or using big data to design more inclusive cities, these individuals are inspiring in their desire to make a difference,” she said.

Westpac Scholars Trust currently partners with 14 universities across Australia.

Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Capability) at the University of Melbourne Professor, Julie McLeod, said the Westpac Scholars program continues to reflect the outstanding talent of the university’s alumni.

“We value this partnership with the Westpac Scholars Trust and their scholarship program for our graduate and early career research community. In the current climate, it has never been more critical to support the next generation of researchers and emerging leaders,” Professor McLeod said.

Applications for some 2022 scholarship streams are now open. To find out more visit the Westpac Scholars Trust website.


A selection of the first 500 Westpac Scholars are available for interview: 

Assoc Prof. Nicholas Opie, biomedical engineer – Westpac Scholar, 2017 Research Fellow (University of Melbourne)

Associate Professor Opie has commenced human trials for the Stentrode, a tiny brain implant that translates thoughts into actions for people with paralysis and illnesses.

Professor Opie said: “The Fellowship is unique in that it not only supports personal growth, but actively encourages it through the organisation of different workshops and events. In particular, the leadership development opportunities encourage and empower us to not only conduct world class research, but to ensure that we are trained as leaders who can continue to have a global impact.”

Lucinda Hartley, co-founder, Neighbourlytics – Westpac Scholar, 2018 Social Change Fellow

Lucinda Hartley co-founded Neighbourlytics – a social analytics platform that uses big data to redefine how we measure the success of cities.

Ms Hartley said: “The fellowship offered a major kickstart to helping me to make a big transition from working in community development to working in tech. Since the fellowship, we've created data for more than 2,000 neighbourhoods in 12 countries, grown our team from four to 15 and raised close to $2.3 million in investment capital.”

Dr Meru Sheel, epidemiologist – Westpac Scholar, 2019 Research Fellow (ANU)

Dr Sheel is focused on improving health outcomes of people in low and middle income countries working at the nexus of epidemiology, public health emergencies like outbreaks and immunisation to strengthen operational response and health systems during health emergencies in the Asia-Pacific region. Recently, Dr Sheel has worked with the Government of Papua New Guinea and Tonga to provide strategic advice and guide elements of the nation’s response to the pandemic, such as strengthening surveillance, outbreak investigations, and contact tracing.

Dr Sheel said: “Westpac Scholars has offered me a fantastic opportunity to build a program of work that will span across research and 'on the ground' time responding to emergencies. I am particularly interested in designing and improving existing surveillance strategies for prevention and intelligent response to epidemics.”

Dr Naveen Tenneti, Executive Director at the Department of Health in Victoria – Westpac Scholar, 2017 Future Leaders Scholar (University of Melbourne)

Dr Tenneti has spent the past 18 months supporting the Victorian COVID-19 response across both COVID-19 outbreak management, and more recently, overseeing safety, quality and workforce training and readiness for the Victorian COVID-19 vaccination program. Dr Tenneti is also a research fellow at the Nossal Institute for Global Health where he focuses on building stronger and more sustainable health systems.

Dr Tenneti said: “Westpac Scholars gave me the opportunity and courage to step out of clinical medicine and focus on the larger challenges presented by public health. I believe that this pandemic has taught us valuable lessons about our health system that we can translate into better health outcomes for all Australians.”


The Westpac Scholars Trust was established to mark Westpac’s 200th anniversary in 2017 with the creation of a $100 million scholarship fund to award 100 scholarships a year, forever. Westpac Scholars Trust (ABN 35 600 251 071) is administered by Westpac Scholars Limited (ABN 72 168 847 041) as trustee for the Westpac Scholars Trust. Westpac Scholars Trust is a private charitable trust and neither the Trust nor the Trustee are part of Westpac Group. Westpac provides administrative support, skilled volunteering, and funding for operational costs of Westpac Scholars Trust.

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