Congratulations to scholars headed to top UK universities

Congratulations to scholars headed to top UK universities 2016 Charlie Perkins and Roberta Sykes scholars

Tuesday 13 September 2016

The British High Commissioner to Australia, Her Excellency Menna Rawlings CMG, has presented the 2016 Charlie Perkins and the Roberta Sykes Scholarships to 6 recipients at a ceremony in Canberra.

The scholarships for postgraduate study at top UK universities support Indigenous Australians who have the potential to become leaders in their field of study and in their communities.  Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit.

The 2016 Charlie Perkins Scholars are:

James Beaufils is a descendent of the Gundungurra people of the Pejar area and a Pacifika Islander of New Caledonia.  He has been accepted into an MSc in Education (Children’s Development and Education) at Jesus College, Oxford.  James graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Education (Secondary) & Bachelor of Arts (English), during which he completed a Cadetship with the NSW Department of Justice, Corrective Services.  Once graduated and commencing a teaching career, James recently completed a Masters of Criminology from the Sydney Law School.  James is also a talented athlete, receiving several sporting scholarships and awards throughout university.

Malcolm Connolly, a descendent of the Kullili and Muruwari people of South Western Queensland, has been accepted to undertake a PhD in Archaeology at Darwin College, Cambridge.  Malcolm graduated from the University of Queensland with a Master of Philosophy (Aboriginal Environments Research) and a Bachelor of Arts (Honours).  He was the 2010 SANTOS Indigenous Prize recipient at the University of Queensland, and in 2014 represented the University and Australia’s Indigenous people by participating as an Associate in the Building a Tactical and Strategic Toolkit for Indigenous Heritage Stewardship Forum at the 79th Annual Society of American Archaeology Meeting held in Austin, Texas.  Malcolm was a participant on the Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour in 2015.

Olivia Slater, a Badimia Yamatji and Whadjuk Nyoongar woman from Western Australia, has been accepted into the MPhil in Social Anthropology at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge.  Olivia graduated from Victoria University in 2014 with First Class Honours in Arts.  She received the SWAN Bursary from the Australian Foundation of University Women in 2011 and became a Member of the Golden Key Society in 2015.  Olivia was a participant on the Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour in 2015.

The 2016 Roberta Sykes Scholars are:

Sarah Bourke, a Djaru, Ongkomi and Gamilaroi woman, has been accepted into a DPhil in Anthropology at St John’s College, Oxford.  Sarah graduated from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Arts (First Class Honours in Biological Anthropology) and a Bachelor of Science (Psychology) in 2013.  She participated in the Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour in 2011 and 2012, and in 2013 received a John Monash Foundation and Roberta Sykes Scholarship to undertake a MPhil in Medical Anthropology at Keble College, Oxford, which she completed in 2015.  

Samara Hand, an Awabakal woman of Worimi and Biripi decent, has been accepted into a Masters in Understanding and Securing Human Rights at the University of London.  Samara graduated from the University of NSW with a Bachelor of Law/Bachelor of Arts and is admitted to practice as a solicitor.  Samara was awarded the John Koowarta Reconciliation Law Scholarship from the Law Council of Australia and attended the Global Review Workshop on Youth and Global Citizenship Education in Moldova, 2016.  She was also a participant on the Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour in 2015.

Michael McCagh, a Yued man, has been accepted into the Master of Laws at the London School of Economics.  Michael graduated from the University of Canberra with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB) (Hons)/Bachelor of Politics and International Relations.  He has received a host of scholarships and awards, including the 2013 ACT Law Society Award; 2012 ACT DPP Award for Criminal Law; 2011 LexisNexis Award for Corporations Law; 2012 & 2013 Dean’s Excellence Award in all semesters; 2012 Palgrave Macmillan Award for Identity Politics and Public Policy; 2011, 2012 and 2013 Awards for highest achieving Indigenous law student.   Michael participated in the Aurora Indigenous Scholars International Study Tour in 2013.

The Charlie Perkins Scholarship Trust and the Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation are each named in honour of visionary leaders who believed in the power of education.

The Chair of the Charlie Perkins Scholarship Trust, Rachel Perkins, said the Trust was extremely honoured to be a part of the celebration of these students, their families and their communities.  “This is a wonderful realisation of my father’s vision that Indigenous people should strive for excellence in all pursuits.  We really feel that the legacy of Dad's vision that Indigenous people can surmount any odds, that they can achieve greatness in their life, flows through to these new recipients of the Scholarships to attend Cambridge and Oxford,” said Ms Perkins.

The Chair of the Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation, Peter Waters, emphasised the importance of the programme in showing young Indigenous Australians that they are capable of achieving at the highest levels.  “The opportunity to study overseas at some of the world’s leading universities is a powerful message to Indigenous youth that Indigenous youth can be – and should be – amongst the “best and brightest” of this country.  As a nation, we will be richer for that,” said Mr Waters.

Jointly supported by the Australian and British Governments, the scholarships are each valued at over $75,000 per annum for up to three years.

The British Government contributes to these scholarships through the Chevening programme, the UK Government’s global scholarship programme aimed at identifying future leaders and helping them to develop, professionally and academically, experience UK culture, and build lasting positive relationships with the UK.

British High Commissioner, Menna Rawlings said, “I’m delighted that the British Government is involved in these initiatives to support indigenous students through our prestigious Chevening scholarships scheme.  Encouraging and enabling diverse talent is at the heart of successful communities and nations, and I am sure each of the recipients will make an extraordinary contribution to Australia’s future.”


Excerpts taken from joint media release from the British High Commission, the Chevening Programme, the Roberta Sykes Education Foundation and the Charlie Perkins Trust.