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Australian National University, Wesfarmers partner in $10 million funding boost for Indigenous scholarship program

Callan Morse -

The Australian National University's Kambri Scholars Program has been boosted through a new partnership between the ANU and Wesfarmers Limited.

The partnership has seen Wesfarmers make a $5 million donation, the largest single contribution to a scholarship for Indigenous students in the history of ANU, ensuring the scholarship's longevity for future years.

First launched in 2019, the ANU says the Kambri Scholars Program "provide transformative and unrivalled educational opportunities for Indigenous Australians", matching Wesfarmers' donation as part of a protected endowment.

Since inauguration, funding has been awarded to 56 Kambri Scholars, including proud Noongar man Hunter Culbong, the program's first graduate.

Mr Culbong, who is now completing a PhD in criminology, said the scholarship program enabled him to pursue tertiary education at the ANU.

"The Kambri Scholarship has been incredibly important to me. It's the reason I decided to come to the ANU," Mr Culbong said.

"It's been more than just the financial component, extending to academic assistance, social opportunities with other students and emotional support when university has become overwhelming.

"The best aspect of the scholarship is that its holistic and tailored towards the student's needs, meaning that they have targeted assistance that's specified for them.

I've had a range of different experiences and opportunities throughout the university and beyond because the scholarship has allowed me to."

Designed and led by some of Australia's leading Indigenous educators, the scholarship program provides financial, academic and pastoral support for 15 First Nations students to commence their studies at ANU every year, with up to $30,000 of support offered to recipients over a five-year period.

ANU Chancellor Julie Bishop paid tribute to Wesfarmers for their "generosity and powerful commitment to the future of Australia's First Nations peoples".

"ANU is proud to partner with Wesfarmers as the Kambri Scholars Program Inaugural Corporate Partner, on this critical initiative to improve Indigenous educational outcomes and help transform our nation," Ms Bishop said.

"The Kambri Scholars Program is helping to create the next generation of Australia's Indigenous leaders, setting them up for success at university and in their future careers.

"We hope that Kambri Scholars take what they have learned at ANU and make significant contributions to their communities, across the nation and beyond."

The partnership aligns with Wesfarmers' Reconciliation Action Plan, which includes a focus on sustainable employment and career progression among Indigenous team members.

Wesfarmers Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Rob Scott said as the inaugural corporate partner to the ANU's Kambri Scholars Program, Wesfarmers saw an opportunity to support practical measures that will impact and deliver benefits for Indigenous communities.

"The Kambri Scholars Program helps to make an excellent education more accessible for talented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, wherever they live in Australia, delivering benefits far beyond this partnership," Mr Scott said.

"This significant new partnership with ANU builds upon Wesfarmers' longstanding commitment to reconciliation, supporting education and helping to advance the careers of First Nations people, knowing these actions will have a lasting impact across the Australian community."

Since it's establishment, the scholarship program has doubled the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander undergraduate students commencing at the ANU, with the University consistently ranking as one of the top universities in Australia for Indigenous student retention and graduation.

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