Introducing 10 changemakers driving positive change in Australia

2024 Westpac Social Change Fellows

Tackling a range of challenging social issues, Westpac Social Change Fellows are at the forefront of driving positive change to create a more inclusive and equitable future for Australia. 


Westpac Scholars Trust has awarded ten outstanding entrepreneurs a Social Change Fellowship in 2024, each valued up to $50,000 with a total of up to $500,000 in combined funding to help them grow, develop as leaders and scale their impact.


The Westpac Social Change Fellowship is a unique program that invests in the individuals who are committed to improving the wellbeing of Australians. Unlike other programs, this Fellowship is completely tailored to the individual and is designed to give social innovators the time and space to invest in their skills, leadership capabilities and networks.


The communities of focus for this cohort are widespread, including people living with a disability, refugees and asylum seekers, young people, women at risk and sustainable futures.


Angelique Wan, Zac Lewis and Carla Raynes are three 2024 Westpac Social Change Fellows invested in creating better outcomes for young people.


Raynes founded Bridge It in 2021, an organisation whose mission is to end youth homelessness by providing homes, community and support so young people can lead independent lives.


“I founded Bridge It to address the urgent need for safe, supportive, affordable housing for young people at risk of homelessness in Melbourne,” she said.


“Prior to this, I spent nearly two decades working in the homelessness space and I’m committed to trialling creative approaches to find a long-lasting solution.”


Two Social Change Fellows providing much needed services and opportunities to those living with disability are Andrea Comastri and Luke Hallam.


Comastri is the co-founder and CEO of Hotel Etico, Australia’s first social enterprise hotel, providing employment and independent living opportunities to young people living with a disability.


“I am motivated by honesty, fairness and social justice and by a desire to enhance the quality of life of people facing barriers to inclusion,” said Comastri.


“I draw inspiration every day from the amazing team we have put together at Hotel Etico. Our trainees exemplify and show passion for life, work and learning.”


Supporting Women at risk are 2024 Social Change Fellows, Ifrin Fittock and Maryam Zahid. 


Zahid is an Afghan-Australian human rights champion, and founder of Afghan Women on the Move, leading empowering programs for immigrant and refugee women. This extends to domestic violence prevention, refugee resettlement, and empowering women in employment and financial independence.


“Advocating for marginalised communities is a vital part of my commitment,” said Zahid. “My journey from a former refugee is a testament to resilience, and I am truly honoured to contribute to positive change.”


Zahid, who has worked in the community sector for over 21 years, sits on numerous government and non-government advisory boards to amplify diverse voices and promote inclusivity, and was the recipient of the 2019 Woman of the Year award.


This is also the first year where two scholars have a strong sustainability focus in addition to improving the wellbeing of Australians. Ninna Larsen is helping create a circular economy through innovative waste collection and waste minimisation projects through her social enterprise Reground, while Claire Lane is the founder of Save Our Supplies, a not-for-profit that collects and redirects usable medical supplies to developing regions.


The Westpac Social Change Fellowship is a unique program where each recipient designs a bespoke development journey. They will identify experiences that directly invest in their skills, knowledge and networks to help them achieve their goals, and ultimately increase the impact of their social change initiatives. The funding can be put towards global study tours, mentoring, coaching, networking opportunities or development courses.


“This wonderful group of social entrepreneurs are doing remarkable things in their local communities, tackling some of Australia’s most complex social issues,” said Westpac Scholars Trust CEO, Amy Lyden.


“Often these entrepreneurs find themselves too immersed in the day-to-day aspects of their work, leaving little room for self-reflection on their personal growth or time to pursue development opportunities, so we’re thrilled to be able to give them that chance through this fellowship,” Lyden adds.


The Social Change Fellowship is one of five scholarship programs offered by Westpac Scholars Trust. The Trust awards 100 scholarships every year to university students, early-career researchers and social entrepreneurs to create a brighter future for Australia.


Celebrating our 2024 Social Change Fellows: 

Related articles

2023 Westpac Research Fellows driven to create a more sustainable future

Two early-career researchers from The University of Queensland and the Australian National University have received close to $1 million in combined funding to support critical sustainability research and invest in them as leaders.

2023 Westpac Future Leaders tackling challenges of tomorrow

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.

Meet 10 social entrepreneurs making Australia more inclusive

Driven to find solutions for difficult social issues surrounding health, disability, disadvantage and unemployment, Westpac Social Change Fellows are leading change to create a more equitable future for Australia.