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AIEF Scholarships change lives

AIEF Board Director Emily Hill discusses her personal connection with AIEF and the transformative experience of boarding at St Catherine’s School, Waverley.

I consider AIEF to be part of my family, with my personal connection to the Foundation spanning many years.

My mother was a strong Aboriginal woman of the Dunghutti and Yuin peoples. She was raised on the La Perouse Aboriginal Mission in Sydney by her grandmother, among her extended family.

As a life-long educator, teacher and student herself, my mum understood the importance of education. I credit my parents for instilling in my siblings and me the value of education, and challenging us to pursue it to the highest levels.

My sister and I earlier received scholarships to attend St Catherine’s School, Waverley – now an AIEF Partner School. My late mother, Kim, was involved with AIEF from its early years as the Indigenous student support officer for girls at schools including St Vincent’s College, Potts Point, and as a mentor to AIEF staff and alumni. My brother was also the recipient of an inaugural AIEF-BHP Tertiary Scholarship.

For me, boarding school at St Catherine’s was a formative experience. A quiet and shy teenager, high school at St Cath’s brought the best out in me, and gave me the confidence to believe anything was within my reach. I have no doubt that had I not received the scholarship to St Catherine’s, I wouldn’t be where it am now.

Before going to St Catherine’s, university was not something I thought I could attain. Yet within months of being there, I aspired to wear a power suit as a high-flying lawyer. Though upon completing a combined Bachelor of Laws and International Studies I chose a career in the public sector, I still revel in wearing that power suit!

The experiences, skills and attributes developed at school have been instrumental in getting me where I am today. Working at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for over ten years, I have had the privilege of representing not only my country, but also my community and people, on the world stage.

And now, I am honoured to be a member of the AIEF Board of Directors and be able to give back. When I was asked to join the board, I was truly humbled, and the decision to accept was a no brainer. I saw it as a way to honour my mum’s legacy while contributing to something I am passionate about – education for our mob.

I wholeheartedly believe in AIEF’s mission and model because I know from my first-hand experience how these scholarships change lives. Education opens doors, and AIEF facilitates young children, and their families, who would not otherwise get the opportunity to step through those doors and achieve their potential.

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I am optimistic about the future that can exist for Indigenous people if Australia shows enduring dedication to improving educational and employment opportunities, in which organisations such as AIEF continue to play a crucial role.

Warren Mundine AO
Chair, AIEF


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.