From a doctor investigating a mental health curriculum for schools to a software engineer testing the limits of energy efficient artificial intelligence, 2023 Westpac Future Leaders are a highly capable and curious group of postgraduate students who will positively impact Australia.
Westpac Scholars Trust recently awarded 17 postgraduate coursework and research students from nine partner universities a Future Leaders Scholarship valued at $120,000.
One of five programs delivered by the Trust, the Future Leaders Scholarship backs individuals with big ideas for the future of Australia. These scholars are pursuing studies or research in one of four key focus areas which the Trust believes are at the heart of the nation’s future prosperity, including technology and innovation, sustainability, inclusion and ties with Asia.
Among the scholars named this year, is Christian Bien, a Master of Entrepreneurship student from the University of Melbourne. Christian’s parents came to Australia as refugees after being displaced by the Vietnam War. He now wants to find ways to give back to Australia, a country that has given his family a second chance.
“My studies in entrepreneurship will be devoted to growing Elucidate Education (Elucidate), a not-for-profit organisation I co-founded with an ambition to provide every Australian student with the support they need to achieve at school,” he said.
“At Elucidate, we want to define a student’s achievement not by their ability to access learning, but by their ambition to learn. To meet the challenge, we use innovative technologies to provide a learning platform that has delivered free education support to over 23,000 Australian users.”
Beyond financial support, each Future Leaders Scholar also participates in a nine-month bespoke leadership program, including a weeklong residential experience in Sydney. These embedded activities make the Westpac Scholars program truly unique and encourage scholars to build on their personal strengths and discover themselves as leaders of tomorrow.
“The Westpac Future Leaders program was developed to enable, connect and build the confidence and leadership capability of the nation’s best and brightest students,” says Westpac Scholars Trust CEO Amy Lyden.
“By empowering our newest scholars through education, leadership and connections, I believe they will shape a better Australia now and in the future.”
The 2023 cohort has a number of scholars whose research focus is agriculture, food safety and security. Take Tori Millsteed for example. Tori is a biochemist, environmentalist, social justice advocate and former resident of country Western Australia.
She’s moved to Brisbane to pursue a PhD at The University of Queensland, where she will investigate photosynthetic efficiencies to increase crop yields and address agriculture and sustainability issues currently facing Australia.
Her colleague, Evelyn Lambeth from the University of Tasmania will investigate colonial legacies and how they affect our food systems – particularly in relation to the pork industry. Evelyn hopes to create safer and more sustainable food systems in Australia. She’s also a long-distance runner having completed a 100-mile ultra marathon.
Another emerging area of research among this year’s Future Leaders Scholars is mental health. More pressing than ever following the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our scholars are hoping to ensure a brighter and more inclusive future for Australia through their research in this area.
One such scholar is Charlie Cooper, a PhD student from Monash University whose research seeks to improve suicide prevention literacy, online safety and mental health outcomes for LGBTQA+ young people.
By developing more inclusive studies which are co-produced alongside LGBTQA+ young Australians, he hopes to bring young people’s voices to the forefront of mental health and suicide prevention policy and practice.
“LGBTQA+ young people have long been overrepresented in the mental health and suicide statistics and research suggests that LGBTQA+ communities have also been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
“By partnering with Orygen’s #chatsafe research team, a global leader in digital youth suicide prevention research, my studies will directly inform the development of digital resources and social media suicide prevention campaigns targeting young Australians.”
Awarding 100 scholarships a year, forever, Westpac Scholars Trust continues to strive for a stronger Australia by investing in people with the drive and potential to create positive change.
Welcoming our 2023 Westpac Future Leaders:
- Megan Amos (UNSW)
- Rebekah Ash (University of Tasmania)
- Dr Roshini Balasooriya (Monash University)
- Christian Bien (University of Melbourne)
- Zubin Bilimoria (University of Sydney)
- Queenie Cheung (Monash University)
- Charlie Cooper (Monash University)
- Elliott Fourie (University of Western Australia)
- Jessica Freund (University of Adelaide)
- Alexander Frisina (University of Sydney)
- Evelyn Lambeth (University of Tasmania)
- Tori Millsteed (The University of Queensland)
- Stuart Nicholls (University of Sydney)
- Nick Pritchard (University of Western Australia)
- Harry Spurrier (University of Adelaide)
- Indigo Strudwicke (Australian National University)
- Tayla Wilsdon (University of Melbourne)