By donating to the Country Education Foundation of Australia (CEF) during September and October, Canberrans can double their assistance for young people in surrounding rural regions.
Country students and their families have been hit hard by bushfires, drought and floods, and now the COVID-19 pandemic has added to the financial barriers many already face when it comes to education and training.
Many of the foundation’s fundraising events have also been cancelled due to the pandemic, hampering its efforts to assist young people with education or work related expenses such as textbooks, tools, petrol, transport, accommodation, computers and internet access.
CEF is aiming to match $200,000 in donations during September and October thanks to a generous donor.
By donating to CEF branches in Monaro, Yass, Goulburn and Braidwood during spring, Canberra businesses, organisations and individuals can get more bang for their buck.
The funds will help young people such as Sophie Gay, from a farm near Crookwell, who is now forging an accounting career with the National Disability Insurance Agency in Canberra.
Sophie received a scholarship from the Goulburn CEF to help complete her Bachelor of Commerce at ANU.
Callum Furner also got a helping hand from the Goulburn branch, receiving the Snow Foundation Scholarship to assist with his Certificate III in Bricklaying at Bathurst TAFE.
He used the CEF grant to purchase tools, and is now working with Tibbles Bricklaying in Goulburn.
CEF CEO Juliet Petersen says financial assistance will help young people of any background or ability to access the services and resources they need in order to fulfil their personal potential and contribute fully to the communities in which they live.
“Since 2020, CEF local foundations and country communities have experienced one setback after another,” she says. “Drought, bushfires, floods, mouse plagues and the isolating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our local foundations face losing community financial support to more immediate relief needs, and students face unprecedented challenges in completing studies, aspiring to and accessing education after school.
“These students and their communities need our support more than ever.
“They need to know we are there for them, and not to let these tough times stand in the way of them reaching their educational goals.”
Juliet says all students have faced the ultimate disruption in terms of face-to-face teaching during COVID-19 lockdown.
“For school leavers, the delay in HSC exams has added another layer of uncertainty and is cause for anxiety at this critical time in their lives,” she says.
“For rural students studying at a tertiary level, the lockdowns have meant periods of isolation from family as they are unable to return home.
“For others, the restrictions have meant they are unable to stay at their place of study, and in many cases vital connections with fellow students have been non-existent.
“We know this is also having adverse effects on students’ overall health and wellbeing.”
During 2021, CEF has provided grants and scholarships to 648 students, with almost $2 million in support delivered via 44 local foundations across Australia.
Current research shows there is a lack of aspiration to undertake further education from rural and regional students, and even when the desire is there, the location and financial barriers often seem too great.
The reality is that to shape a career or undertake further education, these young Australians must often leave home, and live in, or close to, metropolitan centres.
For many of them, the financial, emotional and social obstacles are just too great, and they are unable to leave home to take up further education or jobs.
CEF aims to help close the participation gap that exists between country and city students by promoting and enabling further education, career and personal development opportunities for rural youth.
CEF grants are based on financial need, not academic success, however applicants need to demonstrate a commitment to achieving their goals and meeting four essential selection criteria.
Local foundations, including those at Braidwood, Goulburn, Yass and Monaro, are run by groups of volunteers passionate about helping rural and regional young people achieve their dreams, whether they’re working, completing an apprenticeship, or studying at TAFE or university.
Can you help the Country Education Foundation of Australia match its $200,000 target during the next two months?