Handshake between Zac Lewis, CEO and Wade Noonan.
Western Chances CEO Zac Lewis with VU's Deputy Vice-Chancellor of External Engagement and Partnerships, Wade Noonan

Victoria University (VU) and Western Chances have today strengthened a longstanding alliance that will give young people in Melbourne’s West who are facing financial barriers new opportunities to study and succeed in their careers.

VU and Western Chances share a commitment to supporting motivated young people in Melbourne’s west achieve their potential through access to education and training. Since it was established nearly 20 years ago, Western Chances has provided almost $8 million in scholarships and assisted more than 3500 young people from Melbourne’s West overcome barriers to success.

A Memorandum of Understanding signed today with VU builds on a long-standing relationship between the two organisations. Since 2006, VU has offered up to 35 access scholarships of $1000 a year to hundreds of young people studying at VU. The students use the funds for items that may seem small – such as laptops, home internet, or public transport – but can have a big impact on university success.

Further collaboration will focus on:

  • expanding scholarships to support young people in VU TAFE courses
  • developing programs to link Western Chances alumni with career and industry networks
  • expanding opportunities for recipients to do meaningful internships and gain work experience.

The agreement will also renew VU’s commitment to host a Western Chances office at the University’s Footscray Nicholson Campus until 2025, and for VU to become a Community Pro-Bono Partner.    

First-year VU paramedic student and Werribee resident, Alannah Nix, 19, started receiving the scholarship eight years ago while a student at Hoppers Crossing Secondary School. Both her older sisters – one now a teacher in Queensland, and the other a nurse in Melbourne’s west – were also recipients.

“Western Chances helped each of us get to where we are now. They don’t just provide money, they gave us connections to a great community, and to personal and professional experiences we’d have never had.”

VU Vice-Chancellor Professor Adam Shoemaker said both partners shared a clear commitment to support and invest in the massive potential of young people in Melbourne’s west.

“Our partnership has grown enormously over the past 16 years and we are so excited to celebrate this milestone by taking it even further,” he said.

Western Chances CEO Zac Lewis said the strategic partnership with VU would help deliver more scholarships, educational pathways, and industry connections for young people in Melbourne’s west.

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