Walking into the chemist in Dubbo the other day a voice said “Hello Mrs Roughley”. I looked up to see a girl in her twenties and realised I knew her. Tash was one of the recipients of our medical grant, started by Barwon Group CWA in 1998. Tash had completed her Pharmacy degree and was hoping to be back working in our local area within a couple of years.
For me it was a reminder of the reasons we decided to raise money from the community to support our kids through their tertiary studies. We started small, only one recipient of $1000, made possible by the generous support of local business & the community. 15 years later we distribute up to $15,000 annually amongst 5-10 students.
Since its inception we have assisted 85 students & distributed over $113,000. Many local businesses have come on board as regular sponsors with generous donations. Early supporters included Walgett Shire Council, Walgett Pharmacy and of course Barwon Group.
We decided to focus on the rather broad “medical” area including Pharmacy, Radiography, Physiotherapy, medical support services and Allied Health courses, as well as Nursing and Medical degrees. The applicant can be enrolled at any recognised educational institution and their home base must be within Barwon Group of CWA (comprising Walgett Shire, Pilliga and Goodooga Districts).
The grant to the applicants is based on an interview to assess personal merit and their willingness to achieve. When selecting candidates the adjudicating panel takes into account the financial support each applicant already has in the form of other scholarships, family support and so forth. It is not unusual to grant a small bursary to the same person 2 or 3 years in a row if we feel they are particularly reliant on the funds and their record of attendance is good.
The money can be used however they wish to spend it. By giving small amounts (with no strings attached to as many as possible) we hope to encourage the next generation of professionals to return to the bush once they have attained their degree and completed their work experience. Records show many have returned to rural placements including the Flying Doctor and the Walgett Aboriginal Medical service.
Two of the adjudicators this year were past recipients. It is great to see that not only is the grant working in terms of assisting local kids to further their education, and then bringing those skills back to our community, it is continuing to find support in the form of volunteer panel members and financial assistance.
As a founding member of the medical grant, it is an endeavour I am particularly proud of. I look forward to seeing many more faces returning and would love to see more organizations start similar grants or scholarships for other areas of study. Walgett Shire actually did this last year. Our country towns need to have good services to keep people wanting to live in and around them.
“Have you been a recipient of a grant or scholarship or organised one”?
A bit and a bob from Tanya
The Barwon Group Medical Grant is one of many forms of assistance provided across the state by CWA members to help students in rural and remote areas to achieve their goals.
My reason for adding to Jill’s blog is the very real possibility that projects like ours (and more importantly the studies of the students we support) will become another victim of this terrible drought. How can we, in all good conscience, seek sponsorship from small businesses now struggling to survive themselves because of their reliance on the surrounding agricultural industry? This assistance will more than likely not be available and the added financial burden on families will mean studies will have to be deferred, or forgone altogether.
In an attempt to try and alleviate some of these stresses for drought affected families we have today donated $50,000 to the Rural Financial Counseling Service of NSW (RFCS), to be distributed to those most in need, for whatever they need most. By supporting them we will also, eventually, be supporting the small businesses that sustain our communities – swings and roundabouts, Mr. Hockey!
We hope to continue our support through the RFCS and if you would like to help keep the roundabout turning we are accepting donations through our Disaster Relief Fund. Click here. All donations over $2.00 are tax deductible.