25 June 2020

Regional students receive funding boost

More students from North West NSW will have the opportunity to pursue their career ambitions with the Gunnedah and Namoi Country Education Foundations (CEF) receiving a funding boost.

The CEF assists rural and regional students with scholarships providing direct financial assistance for a range of educational pursuits including apprenticeships, cadetships, degrees, diplomas and certificate level studies. In November 2019 Whitehaven Coal provided two $10,000 donations to the CEF, bringing the company’s total financial support to more than $105,000 since 2010.

One student to have benefited is Narrabri local Harry Russell. Harry has been a recipient of a CEF scholarship since 2019 and is currently completing his second year of a Bachelor of Science at the University of Newcastle.

“The CEF scholarship has greatly affected my life in a positive way,” Harry said.

“The grant money has paid for my accommodation at the University of Newcastle, allowing me to live on campus without the stress of ‘will I be able to pay rent this week’ on my shoulders.

“This has allowed me to focus on my studies and given my mum some peace of mind. I really do believe that without this assistance I would not have made it this far through the degree.”

After Harry has completed his Bachelor of Science, he hopes to return to Narrabri and work in the environmental sector with a focus on conservation.

“It would be a great pleasure to return to the North West and use the skills and knowledge I’ve developed to show people how important the Australian environment is and why it needs to be protected,” Harry added.

Trudy Staines, Chairperson of CEF Namoi, said Whitehaven’s support is invaluable for the Foundation.

“The substantial costs of accessing further education and vocation opportunities is often prohibitive for far too many regional and rural youth,” said Ms Staines.

“This is where the Country Education Foundation’s network of local organisations come in. We help these young Australians take their first steps towards achieving their career dreams by embarking on some form of tertiary study.

“Thanks to Whitehaven’s generous financial support, CEF Namoi can directly relieve the financial strain on students and their families and convey a strong message that their community believes in them and is supportive of their aspirations. This is a tremendous boost to a young person’s confidence, right when they need it the most.

“By investing in CEF Namoi, Whitehaven is not only directly improving the life of a local young person, but more broadly, the Namoi region. Many students who leave our region to undertake tertiary study return to home, bringing with them their experiences and learnings to become local business owners and highly skilled employees,” Ms Staines said.

In 2019/20, CEF Namoi was able to support 20 students, bringing their total to 215 students since its establishment in 2002.

Applications for the 2021 scholarship program open on 31 July for CEF Gunnedah and 1 August for CEF Namoi.

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