In 2015 Macpherson Smith Rural Foundation was the recipient of a significant donation from a Victorian philanthropist who asked that it be used to create scholarships to support young rural Victorians wishing to train in vocational areas or undertake apprenticeships.
In 2016 Professor Barry Golding was engaged to work with Dr Maryann Brown to design an investigation into barriers to vocational learning with the intention of designing scholarships to address some of these barriers. The donor was keen to see the work undertaken in the western part of Victoria and the towns of Dunnolly, Kyabram, Terang, Casterton and Warracknabeal were chosen as sites to study. It was decided to use local football/ netball clubs as the starting point for the project as they provided a potentially different group of recruits from formal education organisations.
The resulting ‘Sporting Chance Scholarship Design Project’ was completed in 2016 and is available via request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The findings were significant and informed every step of the development of what became ‘Rural Chances Vocational Scholarships.’ The scholarships were designed in two tiers, $2000 (for travel and equipment) and $5000 for those who have to live away from home or travel extensively to train. The program is unique in that the applicant can apply in writing or via film clip and must show that there is a need for their skill area in rural Victoria. Recipients are offered mentoring in the area of study. In future we plan to add a community mentor to complement the vocational mentoring.
A pilot of Rural Chances Vocational Scholarships was conducted in July 2017 and seven scholarships were awarded. $2000 scholarships to help with travel and training materials were awarded to Alice Maddern, Kaniva; Pearce Watling, Longerenong and Maddy Andrews, Ballarat. The $5000 scholarships were awarded to: Allie Gorman, Casterton, studying Commercial Cookery at The Gordon, Geelong; Emily McErvale, Beaufort and Katie McPherson, Shepparton, studying Agriculture at Longerenong and Blake Hardingham who plans to study Information Technology. All applicants were outstanding and indicated that they would make a significant contribution to rural communities in the future.
The aim of Rural Chances Vocational Scholarships is to meet the needs of rural communities by providing a skilled and flexible workforce. We are delighted to be able to support the development of these scholarships; the young people who receive them and the local communities in which they will work. We see Rural Chances as a win-win-win situation for rural Victoria.
We are very keen to expand the number of Rural Chances scholarships that can be offered, particularly in the eastern part of Victoria. If you would like to make a donation or enquire about your community funding Rural Chances scholarships please contact email@example.com.