Aboriginal elder and activist William Cooper set out from West Footscray to march to the German Consulate in Melbourne on December 6, 1938, leading a protest against the atrocities committed against Jewish people in Nazi Germany on Kristallnacht.
That connection between Indigenous Australians and the Jewish community was this month honoured with the announcement of a William Cooper Indigenous Scholarship Fund at Melbourne’s Monash University.
The new program, aimed at supporting the next generation of Indigenous agents of change, has been made possible by a one million dollar donation from Melbourne billionaire John Gandel and his wife Pauline.
It will provide financial support to two Indigenous Australians starting their degrees at Monash every year.
The Gandels said the scholarship would ensure the spirit of Mr Cooper and the connection his protest created between the Jewish and Indigenous communities continued to grow.
“We’re delighted to be able to support a new generation of change agents in partnership with Monash University, and look forward to seeing how they shape not only their own future, but the future of the community more broadly,” they said in a statement.
Monash Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous), Professor Jacinta Elston, said the funding would support the students through higher education.
She said it would “hopefully enable them to go on to be change makers for their own communities, as well as globally, ensuring Indigenous voices and perspectives are active in helping find solutions to the problems faced by communities around the world”.