The past two years have certainly tested us – students especially. Disrupted learning, lockdowns, separation from loved ones and financial stress are just some of the real struggles The George Alexander Foundation (GAF) community faced.
Throughout this turbulent time and regardless of these challenges, the GAF community have all shown great resolve, and for that, we applaud you.
This year, we were delighted to welcome 79 scholars, six fellows and 22 Earthwatch student challengers into the GAF community and distribute over $2 million (2020-21) to scholarship, fellowship, and environmental programs at 15 institutions across Australia.
Among these scholars is our new cohort from the University of South Australia, our only scholarship program in the state.
In 2021 we welcomed four new members to the Foundation's Board of Governors. Professor Sir Edward Byrne AC kt, Mr Craig Drummond, Professor Emma Johnston AO, and Professor Karen Day AM. Professor Day has joined The Hon Susan Crennan AC, QC on the committee that assesses our proposed grants that are recommended to the Board of Governors.
We look forward to the new Board members bringing fresh perspectives and insights to the governance of the Foundation in the years ahead.
Sadly, November 2021 saw the passing of Sir James Gobbo AC CVO QC, who we were privileged to have as a strong advocate and Governor of The George Alexander Foundation from 2001 to 2019.
Sir James was a great Australian who lived by the principles of honour, integrity, faith and serving the community. We offer our heartfelt condolences to his family for their loss.
In 2021, the Foundation’s Board initiated an external Evaluation of The George Alexander Foundation’s Scholarship and Fellowship programs. This evaluation seeks to understand the impact of the Foundation’s programs on scholars, fellows, and their communities, assess their efficacy in achieving the Foundation’s vision and mission, and identify opportunities to inform their continuous improvement. We look forward to the new insights we will gain from this review.
This year, amidst continued COVID-19 restrictions, the GAF team capitalised on the success of the 2020 virtual partner institution scholar networking events. So, the 2021 events calendar was expanded to include three community-wide GAF online events.
The new events included a commencing scholar welcome, a mid-year workshop on managing personal finances – Finance Matters: Knowledge is Dollars – and an end-of-the-year finishing scholar celebration. We were delighted to host guest speakers at these events, including Shadow Treasurer Dr Jim Chalmers MP and Nick Pearce, CEO and Co-founder of HoMie, a not-for-profit social enterprise supporting young people affected by homelessness or hardship.
These events are part of our ongoing engagement effort to connect GAF scholars from our different partner institutions with a view to helping them achieve their goals.
We want to thank our Foundation staff, particularly our Program Manager, Mairead Phillips and our Communications Officer, Nina Beer, for their dedication and innovative approach to overseeing the Foundation’s work throughout such a turbulent year.
Next year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Foundation and 20 years of the Scholarship Program, which has supported 1,008 scholars across 18 partner institutions and organisations since its inception in 2002.
We look forward to celebrating these milestones with the GAF community in 2022.
Charles Goode AC