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What is the mission of AIEF?

AIEF's mission is to empower young Indigenous people to build a brighter future for themselves and for the nation. We aim to help educate young Indigenous people at some of Australia's leading schools and universities and support their transition into productive careers and fulfilling lives.

How does AIEF operate?

AIEF provides scholarships which enable Indigenous students in financial need to attend some of Australia’s leading schools and universities, as well as mentoring and career support to ensure students make a successful transition from school to further studies or employment, productive careers and fulfilling lives.

The AIEF Team works with hard heads, soft hearts and capable hands to deliver scholarships and support through AIEF’s two core programs: the AIEF Scholarship Program and the AIEF Pathways Program.

These programs are part of AIEF’s transparent model, which has been designed to operate sustainably for the long term, and which ensures AIEF can support each scholarship student to the completion of their secondary and/or tertiary education.

Under this model AIEF allocates 85% of income to the AIEF Scholarship Fund and the remaining 15% to AIEF’s operating reserve, making AIEF one of the most efficient, low cost non-profit organisations in Australia.

What has AIEF achieved?

AIEF has grown from one scholarship in 2008 to offer over 500 scholarships each year at 31 Educational Partners and universities across Australia.

In 2017, AIEF Scholarship Students achieved a 94% retention and Year 12 completion rate. With AIEF’s support, 95% of AIEF Alumni made or continued a successful transition from school or university to further studies or employment.

Why was AIEF established?

AIEF was established in 2007 to replicate and scale the work of the St Joseph’s College Indigenous Fund (SJCIF) with a national program providing scholarships, mentoring and career support to Indigenous students in financial need.

According to the 2016 census, 47% of Indigenous 20-24 year olds reported having completed Year 12 or an equivalent qualification compared to 79% of non-Indigenous 20-24 year olds.

ABS figures show Australians with a Year 12 qualification are more likely to be employed; to pursue higher education; and to earn a higher income than Australians who do not complete Year 12.

In 2017, AIEF’s Annual Retention and Year 12 Completion Rate was 94%.

AIEF currently supports around 500 secondary and tertiary scholars, continues to support a network of over 500 graduates.

How does AIEF measure success?

AIEF measures the success of its programs in terms of the rate of student success, which is defined as Year 12 completion followed by a successful transition into a sustainable career.

AIEF continuously monitors the success of its programs and reports on its programs annually in May. AIEF Annual Reports also include transparent and detailed financial accounts.

You can view a copy of our latest Annual Report here.


How can I make a donation?

You can make a donation online or by mailing a cheque or completed donation form to:

Australian Indigenous Education Foundation

Suite 2A, Level 2

2-12 Foveaux Street

Surry Hills NSW 2010

If you would like to discuss a donation, please contact AIEF Executive Director Andrew Penfold AM.

If you would like to make a donation via bank transfer please email

Is my donation tax deductible?

AIEF has tax-deductible Gift Recipient Status and is endorsed by the ATO as an Income Tax Exempt Charity, which means that all donations to AIEF over $2 are tax deductible. Click here to view AIEF's DGR and ITEC certificates.

If you make a one-off donation online, a tax receipt will be issued to the email address you provide. Receipts for all other donations are posted to the mailing address provided.

AIEF Scholarship Program - Schools

How does AIEF select its Partner Schools?

AIEF seeks to form partnerships with schools that want to secure a sustainable source of funding to support the growth of their existing Indigenous education program.

Before partnering with a school, AIEF undertakes an extensive review of that school’s Indigenous education program, including:

  • The historical outcomes of the Indigenous education program in terms of retention and Year 12 completion rates.
  • The level of 'critical mass' of Indigenous students within the school as a percentage of the boarding program and wider student population.
  • Post-school destinations of Indigenous students who have completed Year 12 at the school.
  • The nature and extent of relationships between the school and Indigenous families and communities.
  • The extent to which the school has invested its own time, energy and resources into its Indigenous education program in areas such as Indigenous enrolments, pastoral care and learning support.
  • The level of commitment to the Indigenous program by the leaders and governors of the school.
  • The extent to which the school embraces diversity and Indigenous cultures within the school and has created a welcoming environment for Indigenous students.
  • The extent to which the broader school community of staff, students and families embrace the Indigenous program within the school.

If your school has an existing Indigenous education program and is ready and committed to scale this program in partnership with AIEF, please contact us to discuss partnership opportunities.

When will AIEF be expanding into other states?

AIEF has a strong footprint in NSW and QLD and to ensure the sustainable growth and ongoing success of our program, we are currently focused on building VIC and WA, with a view to expand into other states and territories if we secure additional funding.

Eligible students can apply for scholarships at interstate AIEF Partner Schools and, as AIEF is recognised by the Australian Government as an Approved Scholarship Provider, ABSTUDY may cover the cost of interstate travel to and from school at the beginning and end of each term.

AIEF Scholarship Program - Secondary School Scholarships

Am I eligible?

To be eligible for an AIEF Scholarship for secondary education, a student needs to be/have:

  • An Indigenous Australian.
  • Eligible for and in receipt of ABSTUDY.
  • Accepted for enrolment as a boarder at an AIEF Partner School.
  • Not receiving any other scholarship.
  • Enthusiastic about attending school.
  • Likely to successfully complete Year 12.
  • In financial need.
  • Parents/family that have demonstrated support and encouragement for the enrolment and the scholarship.
  • Parents/family that have committed to making a financial contribution to the expenses.
  • A completed AIEF Scholarship Application Form.

AIEF believes that students will have the greatest chance of succeeding at school if the decision to enrol is one made by the family and the student in conjunction with the school. For this reason, student enthusiasm and family support are key considerations in the application process, whereas academic performance and sporting achievements are not.

How do I apply?

To apply, students and families should begin by choosing an AIEF Partner School (or schools). A full list of AIEF Partner Schools, including contact details for Indigenous scholarship enrolments at each school, is available here.

Students and families then need to contact the school(s) directly to enquire about scholarship opportunities and to request the AIEF Scholarship Application Form. Families are encouraged to make enquiries well in advance of the anticipated commencement date, however it is always worth enquiring if there is a place available, even at short notice.

Every AIEF Partner School has its own application process and makes its own decisions about enrolments. The AIEF Scholarship Application Form is an essential part of the application process and should be submitted directly to the school.

Individual schools may ask students and parents to fill out other forms as part of their application, and parents will be required to show proof of their combined household income to demonstrate financial need. This proof will also determine the amount of the Parent Contribution to the student’s educational expenses, which provides an equitable basis for families on different incomes to participate in the AIEF Scholarship Program.

I am not a boarding student – can I still receive an AIEF Scholarship?

AIEF Scholarships are currently only available for Indigenous boarding students enrolled at AIEF Partner Schools.

What does the scholarship cover?

AIEF Scholarships enable students to attend AIEF Partner Schools by covering the cost of tuition and/or boarding fees less ABSTUDY and a financial contribution by their parents/family (the ‘Parent Contribution’). When an eligible student is accepted for enrolment at an AIEF Partner School, AIEF provides scholarship funding directly to the school.

AIEF Scholarships also cover some other educational expenses to ensure students enjoy the full range of opportunities at AIEF Partner Schools. Some expenses, such as travel, are not covered by the scholarship. ABSTUDY may cover some travel expenses including travel to and from school at the beginning and end of each term.

I am not studying at an AIEF Partner School – can I still receive an AIEF Scholarship?

AIEF Scholarships are only available at AIEF Partner Schools. Click here for a full list of AIEF Partner Schools.

Does AIEF offer primary school scholarships?

AIEF supports a small number of scholarship places at Toowoomba Anglican College and Preparatory School, but does not otherwise offer scholarships to primary school students.

AIEF Scholarship Program - Tertiary Residential Scholarships

Does AIEF offer tertiary scholarships?

AIEF offers Tertiary Scholarships in partnership with the University of Technology, Sydney. These scholarships support Indigenous students to attend by covering the cost of accommodation at a UTS Housing Residence and providing a living allowance to enable students to live on campus and access the support they need to excel in their studies.

AIEF also offers the AIEF-BHP Tertiary Scholarship to outstanding Indigenous students undertaking engineering and other mining-related degrees at universities across Australia in partnership with BHP.

AIEF does not provide scholarships for certificate courses such as courses offered at TAFE.

Am I eligible for the AIEF-UTS Scholarship?

To be eligible for an AIEF-UTS Scholarship a student needs to:

  • Be an Indigenous Australian.
  • Be eligible for and in receipt of ABSTUDY.
  • Be an AIEF Alum (having successfully completed Year 12 at an AIEF Partner School), unless otherwise agreed by AIEF.
  • Be (or will be on acceptance) a full-time UTS student undertaking an undergraduate or post graduate degree and residing at (or intending to reside at) a UTS Housing Service Residence.
  • Not be in receipt of any other scholarship, unless otherwise agreed by AIEF.
  • Need financial assistance to reside at a UTS Housing Service Residence (as assessed by the University).
  • Be enthusiastic about the educational opportunity offered by the university and the college and supportive of the objectives of AIEF and the scholarship.
  • Commit to participate in the AIEF Pathways Program, and to not participate in similar activities arranged by any other program or organisation.
  • Agree not to accept any other cadetship, internship, work experience or other similar activities unless agreed with AIEF.
  • Submit a completed AIEF-UTS Scholarship Application Form to the University.
What does the AIEF-UTS Scholarship cover?

The AIEF-UTS Scholarship covers the cost of tertiary residential accommodation at UTS Housing Service Residences and provides a living allowance to enable students to live on campus and access the support they need to excel in their studies.

How do I apply for the AIEF-UTS Scholarship?

For more information about the application process, please contact Maree Graham, UTS Coordinator Indigenous Recruitment and Outreach at

Am I eligible for the AIEF-BHP Tertiary Scholarship?

To be eligible for an AIEF-BHP Tertiary Scholarship you must:

  • Be an Australian resident (currently residing in Australia).
  • Be of Australian Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander descent and able to provide supporting evidence of this.
  • Be enrolled full time to study an eligible degree at an Australian university or applying to enrol full time at an Australian university, having selected an approved degree as a first preference.
  • Demonstrate strong academic achievement and potential.
  • Not be in receipt of any other scholarship, cadetship, career support or similar, or undertaking any other work experience, internship or employment, unless agreed with AIEF and BHP. Students in receipt of Commonwealth Scholarship Programme (CSP) scholarships are eligible for the AIEF-BHP Tertiary Scholarship.
  • Agree not to accept any other cadetship, internship, work experience or similar opportunities unless agreed with AIEF and BHP.
  • Be enthusiastic about a career in the mining industry, and more specifically with BHP.
  • Be willing to apply for and participate in BHP Internships and the BHP Graduate Program, which take place at BHP offices and assets Australia wide.
  • Commit to participate in the AIEF Pathways Program and to not participate in similar programs or activities offered by other organisations.

Students part way through their degree are encouraged to apply.

What does the AIEF-BHP Tertiary Scholarship cover?
  • The cost of accommodation up to a maximum of A$22,000 each year. Support is available for students living in residential and non-residential accommodation. Please contact AIEF for more information about support for residential and non-residential accommodation costs.
  • A living allowance of A$6,000 each year.
  • An annual stipend of A$2,000 each year for text books and other materials, or other education-related expenses.

AIEF-BHP Tertiary Scholarship Students also receive ongoing professional development and career support from AIEF and BHP, including opportunities to apply for BHP Internships and the BHP Graduate Program.

How do I apply for the AIEF-BHP Tertiary Scholarship?

You must submit a completed AIEF-BHP Tertiary Scholarship Application Form (2019) to be considered for the AIEF-BHP Tertiary Scholarship. Applications are now closed for 2019.

Applications will be assessed by a selection panel, with an emphasis on:

  • Academic ability, achievement and potential.
  • Interest in and commitment to working in the mining industry.
  • Interest in and commitment to working with BHP on completion of your degree.

You may be asked to attend an interview as part of the application process. Interviews will be conducted either by telephone or in person at an AIEF office.

AIEF Pathways Program

What is the AIEF Pathways Program?

The AIEF Pathways Program complements the AIEF Scholarship Program by providing mentoring and career support to ensure all AIEF Scholarship Students make a successful transition from school to further studies or employment, productive careers and fulfilling lives.

The AIEF Pathways Program aims to:

  • Prepare students for post-school pathways by assisting them with personal and professional skill development.
  • Support students by connecting them to support networks and providing one-on-one transition support.
  • Monitor and track students after they complete Year 12, providing ongoing support as needed.
My organisation offers opportunities for young Indigenous people. Can you put me in contact with any students who are interested?

If you are offering a traineeship, apprenticeship or other opportunities for young Indigenous people, our Pathways Team would welcome the opportunity to find out more to identify students who may be interested. If you would like to discuss an opportunity, please contact us.

Who can participate in the AIEF Pathways Program?

The AIEF Pathways Program is open to AIEF Scholarship Students and Alumni. Specific Pathways programs and activities are tailored to the needs of students at different year levels, and will only be offered to students at these year levels.

Are AIEF Scholarship Students encouraged to return to their communities after graduating?

AIEF supports its scholarship students and alumni to pursue productive careers and fulfilling lives wherever they choose to live. Some students decide to return to their home community and AIEF supports this choice by facilitating work or study opportunities in students’ home communities. Other students decide to live in another location and to pursue work or study opportunities there, and AIEF equally supports this choice. In 2017, 25% of our alumni were working or studying in their home community.


What are the volunteer opportunities available at AIEF?

AIEF works with its stakeholders to deliver Pathways programs and activities including the AIEF Mentor Program. Volunteering opportunities within the AIEF Pathways Program are available to employees of AIEF’s stakeholders and partners.

There are some opportunities outside these programs for skilled volunteers, such as photographers. If you are interested in volunteering your time or professional services, please contact us.

Media and Speaker Opportunities

Can somebody from AIEF speak at my function or event?

AIEF representatives may be available to speak about AIEF and its programs at functions, events or conferences around the topics of Indigenous education and career pathways for young Indigenous Australians.

If you would like to discuss a speaking opportunity at your upcoming function or event, please contact us.

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The achievements of your young students are the important outcomes upon which to focus. Education is a proven way to positively impact on a young life and provide pathways for a better future.

The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Federal Member for Sydney


The AIEF Scholarship Program and the AIEF Pathways Program are supported by the Australian Government in collaboration with individual, philanthropic and corporate supporters from the private sector.