There were hugs all round when Kavery Jeyakumar, one of 14 Deakin Sanctuary Scholarship recipients, met staff member Jane Finlay, a long-time donor to student scholarships through Deakin’s workplace giving program.
The timing was perfect as Deakin celebrates Workplace Giving Month across Australia during June.
“It’s amazing to think that people like Jane, people I’ve never met, believe in me and want to see me succeed in my studies.” Kavery said.
“The support from people like Jane not only helps me study, but has reduced so much pressure and sadness in each and every member of my family.”
For Jane, Deakin’s Manager for Access and Equity Partnerships, the workplace giving program – known as Deakin GIVE – allows her to ‘chip away’ at the growing inequality she witnesses every day working with students facing a range of barriers.
“Higher education continues to be a place for medium to high-socioeconomic people and families who have invested in education and are able to reap the benefits,” Jane said.
“Unfortunately, with current policies, some of the most disadvantaged students are excluded. Sadly, it has sometimes meant that disadvantaged students who were willing, capable, committed – everything that Deakin stands for – are not afforded the same access opportunities.”
“I do sometimes get to hear about how difficult some of those student’s circumstances have been and it’s nothing that you would want your own children to go through.
“It’s really nice to know that once a fortnight I can make my contribution and I know very personally how that help has impacted some individuals in really hard times. It’s the right place for my money to go and I absolutely believe everyone can give something.”
Deakin staff are certainly walking the walk when it comes to supporting students through scholarships.
Many staff have been taking happy snaps of themselves proudly showing off their striking light blue Deakin GIVE lanyards as a way of raising awareness and starting conversations with colleagues.
The unwavering support of our staff has resulted in Deakin providing four additional Sanctuary Scholarships in 2019.
A commitment to breaking down the barriers of educational disadvantage has been central to Deakin’s purpose since the beginning. The Sanctuary Scholarship program for people seeking asylum and refugees on temporary protection has been selected as our flagship workplace giving fundraising cause through to 2020.
In 2018, of the 30,000 or so people currently seeking asylum in Australia, only about 200 have been able to study at university thanks to scholarships and other support. To date, we’ve offered sanctuary at Deakin to 14 people seeking asylum and we’re working together with alumni and other generous donors to support more talented students next year.