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Providing the foundation to create our own stories

AIEF Scholarship Graduate Matthew Chard gave the following speech at AIEF Corporate Partner SAP’s Asia Pacific Employee Town Hall on 26 July 2018.

Matt (pictured second from left) completed Year 12 at Cranbrook School in 2015. He is currently studying a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Melbourne and on graduation hopes to work in community development.

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet today. I would like to pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging, and also to any Elders present here today, as the Elders nurture and tirelessly protect the sacred knowledge and culture of this Country.

Good afternoon, my name is Matthew Chard. I am a proud member of both the Yuin Nation (on the south coast of NSW) and Kamilaroi Nation (in northern NSW). I grew up in Nowra on the south coast of NSW, but I am currently attending the University of Melbourne where I am in my second year studying a Bachelors of Arts in Australian Indigenous Studies. On completion next year, I intend to complete my Postgraduate Juris Doctor in Law, pursuing a career as a lawyer.

I would like to thank SAP for their continued support of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. Your sponsorship of AIEF has helped provide Indigenous students like me, nationwide, with the opportunity to reach their full potential, providing them with the foundation of a quality education from Australia’s most distinguished institutions. An opportunity that would otherwise be out of reach and nothing more than an unobtainable dream and an overly optimistic aspiration.

In 2011, at the age of 13, with the support of my family, I decided to leave my community in Nowra to attend Cranbrook School in Sydney. The AIEF Scholarship gave me the opportunity to attend one of Australia’s most renowned all-boys private schools. As I reflect on my time at Cranbrook School, I can wholeheartedly say that the experience was an extraordinary privilege that continues to shape and influence my life, one that I will never forget.

The AIEF Scholarship not only supported me to attend Cranbrook from Year 8 until I graduated from Year 12 in 2015, but also provided me with the opportunity to develop my passions, my aspirations and, more importantly, allowed me to be inspired and mentored.

Throughout my time at Cranbrook School I was able to take hold of opportunities including;

  • Gaining an Indigenous School Based Traineeship with Qantas,
  • Making the Grand Final in the renowned Independent Schools' Debating Association Competition,
  • Organising and facilitating Cranbrook School’s first NAIDOC Week in 2015,
  • Traveling to the Northern Territory with the Social Service Team to assist in the community development of a remote Indigenous community near Kings Canyon,
  • And my most proud and honourable achievement was in 2015 when I became the first Indigenous student in the centennial history of Cranbrook to become School Prefect and Student Head of Boarding for Street House.

These life changing opportunities were only made possible to me through the support of AIEF and corporate partners like SAP. This support helps students like me to make an impact on our families and communities, becoming our own version of success. Often, in its most basic form, this means becoming the first person in a family to successfully complete high school and go on to higher education, just like me.

I would like to thank SAP and AIEF for providing me with the opportunity to share not only my story, but rather for giving myself and others, nationally, the opportunity and the foundation to create our own stories. Thank you.

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Being part of the AIEF Mentor Program has given me the opportunity to mentor and guide a student with great potential. It's really encouraging to know that my student appreciates the support and I'm looking forward to being there to watch him grow from strength to strength.

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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.