Crescent Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to supporting refugee education, homelessness, Islamic cultural heritage, and youth and has extended its support for refugee students to a third Australian University.
The Foundation has unveiled plans to grant Crescent Leadership Scholarships to four University of Technology Sydney (UTS) students a year for the next three years to help cover their cost of study.
The scholarships, which are expected to be the first in a number of initiatives with UTS, are open to students who hold a humanitarian protection visa or have a refugee background and are Australian or New Zealand permanent residents.
The announcement follows the Crescent Foundation earlier this year partnering with Deakin University’s Centre for Refugee Employment, Advocacy, Training and Education to mentor up to 70 individuals from refugee or asylum-seeker backgrounds.
The 70 individuals are paired with prominent business and academic leaders who are members of the Crescent Champions Club who have volunteered to guide the younger people on their journey towards career success and leadership.
The Crescent Foundation has also awarded almost 30 Crescent Leadership Scholarship to students with refugee backgrounds to study at Western Sydney University.
The Hon. Bob Carr, Former Foreign Minister of Australia and presiding Chair of the Crescent Foundation, said the latest initiative was an example of how the charity was dedicated to breaking down barriers providing opportunities for all Australians and particularly for refugees.
“We hope our support of UTS and other universities will encourage private sector corporations and institutions to come forward to help facilitate the inclusion of refugees into the workplace and break through the canvas ceiling faced by refugees.”
UTS Deputy Dean Professor Carl Rhodes said: “UTS is a public university of technology, committed to social justice and the economic, social and cultural prosperity of our communities. Central to this is ensuring equitable access to education for students from all backgrounds – especially those facing economic barriers. This is why this partnership with the Crescent Foundation is of such great importance.
“For many refugees coming to Australia, attending university is a life transforming experience for not only them, but their wider family and the generations that follow. The generosity of the Crescent Foundation and Institute is making a real difference for real people by providing mentoring and financial support for our students to ensure they have prosperous careers and futures.”
Craig Foster, Director, Crescent Foundation said: “In demonstrating the immense strength and courage to make a new life, refugees display characteristics which make them amazing contributors in the workplace and society.
“They tend to display the highest degrees of entrepreneurialism, generating a far higher proportion of their income from their own businesses which in turn contributes to broader economic growth,” he said.
“They volunteer at higher rates than Australian-born citizens, are highly active in other forms of civil and community engagement, and their uptake of Australian citizenship is higher than any other migrant group, reflecting integration into Australian communities and a joining of cultures that offers Australia equal benefits in kind.”
UTS Executive Director, Social Justice Verity Firth added: “At UTS, we believe in a shared future for all. To achieve this, we must ensure that access to high quality education is available to everyone, regardless of circumstance. Education not only helps reduce disadvantage for individuals, but their communities and support networks as well. Community partners can help make education more accessible.
“Organisations like the Crescent Foundation provide students from refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds with the material support to succeed at university.
Without their help, accessing higher education will remain a challenge for these students.”
In addition to programs at the three universities, the Crescent Foundation supports a range of initiatives including:
- Scouts NSW to enable children from refugee families can participate in scouting.
- Thrive Refugee Enterprise which helps refugees and asylum seekers start their own small businesses in Australia, and Sanctuary Australia Foundation, which helps refugees from war-torn areas with aspects of settlement, including education, employment and housing.
- Several organisations and programs to help the homeless, including The Big Issue, an independent, not-for-profit social enterprise that develops solutions to help homeless, marginalised and disadvantaged people positively change their lives.
- The Islamic Museum of Australia, based in Victoria, which showcases the artistic and cultural heritage of Muslims in Australia, as well as the University of Melbourne Grimwade Centre for Cultural Material Conservation, which preserves significant Islamic manuscripts dating to the 13th century.
- The ‘What Matters’ competition organised by the Whitlam Institute at Western Sydney University – an initiative which encourages young school students nationwide to speak up and write about what matters to them.