From age nine, Ruby lived in and out of out-of-home care. Bullied because of her situation, she said she felt isolated and alienated from her peers.
“Living in out-of-home care at such a young age – you lose the spark in your eyes,” she said. “From a young age I lost that spark and joy that should be treasured for so many years.”
Although she struggled with school – she ended up attending nine of them – she always wanted to go to university, but didn’t think she’d ever get there.
Today, Canberra’s Snow Foundation has joined the Sisters of Charity Foundation in a $500,000 project for young people like Ruby to help them study at university or TAFE.
The project will distribute up to $5000 a year for five years to eligible young people in Canberra, the Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla, Yass, Braidwood, Goulburn, Snowy and Monaro regions.
“I started a Diploma of Communications majoring in journalism in February 2022,” Ruby said.
“I finished it in 2023, and then I went on to study my second year of my Bachelor of Communications majoring in journalism.
“Young people in out-of-home care get support from the age of roughly 16 until the age of 21. But once you’re 21, you are cut off. I was like, what am I going to do with my life? I have a very basic casual job and I live off Centrelink. What am I going to do, how am I going to support myself, live by myself, go to uni every day?
“And so, I did a little research, and I found the scholarship from the Sisters of Charity Foundation. I was like, this is too good to be true. I put in my application, and I got the scholarship.
“So far it has been the most amazing, supportive Foundation and scholarship that I could have received because it gave me a chance to focus on my education in a way that allowed me to succeed.
“I don’t think I would actually be passing my units at uni with HDs [High Distinctions] and Distinctions if it wasn’t for having the security of a scholarship.”
The partnership between the Snow Foundation and the Sisters of Charity Foundation will distribute up to $100,000 per year for five years in scholarships so eligible young people in Canberra and surrounding areas can afford to study at university or TAFE.
The scholarships are available to young people with an out-of-home care background – including foster care, residential care, kinship care, and/or being a ward of the state – who want to study in the Canberra region.
Nationally, about 46,200 children are in out-of-home care, with 690 of those based in the ACT. The number of care leavers accessing tertiary education is only about one per cent, compared to 40 per cent of their peers.
“The scholarship program was established to support the 99 per cent of young people with out-of-home care backgrounds that are missing out on going to university, and getting a degree that can change the trajectory of their lives,” Sisters of Charity Foundation Chief Executive Officer Louise Burton said.
CEO of the Snow Foundation, Georgina Byron, said scholarships were an important focus for the Foundation, particularly for its founder Terry Snow.
“We are excited to expand our scholarship offering for 2024 and thrilled to partner with the Sisters of Charity Foundation, making tertiary education accessible for young people with out-of-home care backgrounds,” she said.
“Bridging this gap means that, regardless of their past, these young adults can embark on achieving their goals for further education.”
Applications are now being accepted for 2024. More information is available on the website.