Spotlight on: Making a Difference

10 June 2022


This article first appeared in Queenwood Weekly News on Friday 10 June, 2022

Australia is blessed with universal access to schooling and, earlier this year, we were reminded how lucky our daughters are. Staff heard a moving account from a parent whose family were forced to flee from the Taliban, and whose wife and daughters had to hide in the house basement secretly studying until they were able to leave Afghanistan.

Whilst this is a major challenge for society, with no quick and easy solution, there is something that we can do as a school community. We can instil in our students understanding and empathy for those less fortunate, a sense of responsibility, and a belief that they can make a difference. We can also create more opportunities for girls from disadvantaged circumstances to attend Queenwood, so they too can experience an excellent education and a supportive environment.

Means-tested scholarships are powerful in helping us achieve both these goals. As I myself experienced, they can be life-changing for the recipient, providing the scholar with a quality of education and support that would otherwise have been unattainable, and allowing them to flourish. The scholars also bring immense benefit to the school as a whole. Understanding and empathy come from personal connections, from relationships, from shared experiences. Means-tested scholars greatly increase the diversity of experience and background within the school, bringing fresh and challenging perspectives to classroom and playground discussions alike. We are all enriched as a result.

Historically, we have only had a few means-tested scholars. An internally-funded Grace Lawrence Bursary is offered most years and, recently, one or two Per Aspera Ad Astra Scholarships a year for girls to join in years 10-12 have been generously funded by Queenwood families. Since joining the school two years ago as Queenwood’s first ever Director of Development, my top priority has been to grow the availability of means-tested scholarships, and I have been delighted with the warmth and generosity of the response.

Last year, parents (both past and present) and alumnae made new gifts and pledges totalling $730k to the Scholarship Fund. This is double the sum that was raised during the previous five years combined. The breadth of support has been particularly heartening, with 169 families and individuals contributing to the Fund. Together, their generosity is already having a huge impact. Two girls whose family came to Australia as refugees after being targeted by the Taliban have been able to join us, entirely through the generosity of the school community. This is in addition to two existing means-tested scholars.

Also noteworthy is the help that has been given to families who have experienced a sudden change to their financial circumstances. Over the past 12 months more than thirty families of current students have approached the school for help, in response to bereavements, redundancies, and loss of income to businesses involved in tourism and hospitality due to COVID lockdowns and social-distancing restrictions. Thanks to donations, in particular a $38,000 grant from the QPA to the Pastoral Care Fund, assistance was given to thirteen of these families.  As a result, every one of those families has been able to keep their girls on at the school. Happily, most are now seeing a recovery in their circumstances and are not expected to need any further financial assistance.

The school places huge importance on our ability to step in and help when members of our community find themselves in need, and to support those less fortunate. Every contribution, large or small, makes a difference. Thank you so much for your support.