Funding the future
The Australian Disability and Indigenous Peoples’ Education Fund is again inviting students to apply for small grants to support their learning.
The fund was established in May 2009. It completed its first round of funding in September 2009. Seven people of varied ages were helped to continue their studies.
People with a disability across Australia are invited to apply for grants. The fund is particularly keen to help Indigenous Australians. But non-indigenous people are also welcome to apply.
The fund was established by disability advocate Frank Hall-Bentick. Mr Hall-Bentick has worked tirelessly for over 30 years for the local and worldwide disability community. Mr Hall-Bentick also has a life-long disability.
Mr Hall-Bentick provides all the funding himself. He says he set up the fund to help people who were less fortunate than himself.
I wanted to inject some money into a fund that would help other people with disabilities, including indigenous, he says.
The response to the first funding round was
overwhelming, says Mr Hall-Bentick. Over 50 applications were received.
There was clearly a real need for it, he says.
Grants of up to $2500 are available. Applications are assessed by a small advisory committee.
We look at each application on its merit, says Mr Hall-Bentick.
But we give emphasis to what they want to achieve with education.
Mr Hall-Bentick says he wants to help ensure people have a better education than he did. He believes education is crucial to a person’s development.
When I was growing up, I went to a special school, he says.
I found it wasn’t a very good education. People were mainly there for rehabilitation. When people finished up there they were only eligible to apply for unskilled, poorly-paid jobs as they hadn’t learnt anything very valuable.
Improving access to education
Mr Hall-Bentick is particularly passionate about improving access to education for Indigenous people.
A lot of services exist for non-indigenous people with disabilities, he says.
(There is) a lot less for Indigenous people with disabilities.
Mr Hall-Bentick is also keen to address the divide between Indigenous people in urban and rural areas.
Even less services are available here (in rural areas). I think, as a community, we need to take it upon ourselves to provide more services to more remote areas to provide what they need. Through our fund they can be more independent and get a job they really want.
Applications for the next funding round close on September 30, 2011.
For more information, visit the Australian Disability and Indigenous Peoples' Education Fund webpage (opens new window).