The Catholic Education Foundation (CEF) is excited to announce the introduction of two new scholarship initiatives that will support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students across Sydney Catholic Schools (SCS). 

The CEF, the not for profit charity of Sydney Catholic Schools, is working with the University of Notre Dame to implement scholarships that will enable 10 Year 12 students to attend the university. 

The scholarships will provide for out-of-pocket expenses, offer casual employment within SCS related to students’ field of study, and include an annual retreat to support their wellbeing and spirituality. 

The CEF is also teaming up with Bennelong Energy Services (BES), an Indigenous operated electrical and security company owned by NRL legend Cliff Lyons, to help support a new generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander tradespeople. 

BES is providing two bursaries for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to undertake school-based apprenticeships and traineeships (SBAT) within SCS, as well as work placements with the company. 

The scholarships were announced during an event at Sydney Catholic Schools’ World Square Office which coincided with this year’s NAIDOC Week celebrations. 

Kathleen Badolato from the CEF said the support from both the University of Notre Dame and BES will prove invaluable to the many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students within SCS. 

“The CEF currently financially supports 965 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander

Students throughout SCS and the contributions of both organisations allows us to further that work,” she said. 

“Importantly, both scholarship programs are centred on helping our students transition from school into the world beyond, and equipping them with the confidence and skills to succeed in whatever path they choose.” 

Gaven Sheehan, Director and General Manager of BES, said the company is committed to providing pathways for Indigenous youth seeking a career in trade services. 

“We’re very much aware that we need to keep supporting young students and bringing them into trades,” he said. 

“Being an Indigenous company we’re focused on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and so we’re extremely excited to come together and work hard with these young students.”

Alongside their bursary support, BES will be hosting a free touch football training session for students in July, in preparation for SCS entering a team into the Bennelong Cup in September. 

Now in its seventh year, The Bennelong Cup sees teams from facility management businesses compete in matches in support of Indigenous students and their transition from school to the workforce. 

Also attending the event at World Square was Tahlia Robertson, a Whadjuk woman who is college captain at St John Bosco College Engadine. 

Tahlia, who is hopeful of studying biochemical engineering at university next year, spoke glowingly of the impact the CEF and SCS has had on her schooling journey. 

“Being supported by the CEF means a great deal to myself and my family as it’s given me access to so many wonderful opportunities,” she said.  

“Bosco is such a vibrant Catholic school and it’s a privilege to be part of the community, especially given how the school celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture.”  

St John Bosco launched its own Reconciliation Action Plan during NAIDOC Week in 2022 and since then the school has continued to encourage all staff and students to feel pride in learning about and celebrating First Peoples’ histories, cultures, languages and customs.

“The school does so much to acknowledge and care for our heritage, and the way the community helps foster that culture within the school is something really special,” Tahlia said.  

NAIDOC Week 2024

Held across the country from 7-14 July 2024, NAIDOC Week celebrates and recognises the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

This year’s theme chosen by the National NAIDOC Committee is Keep the Fire Burning! Blak, Loud & Proud.

The theme honours the enduring strength and vitality of First Nations culture – with fire a symbol of connection to Country, to each other, and to the rich tapestry of traditions that define Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.