Using aboriginal history to solve modern health problems

 Professor Gary Foley surrounded by objects from Aboriginal History Archive

Current training for AHW has evolved away from the leading Koori Kollij program. Past research shows that grounded Indigenous input into health worker education programs is the only truly successful model.

The Aboriginal History Archive (AHA) is home to a range of unique and original historic materials, telling the story of the Aboriginal Black Power, Land Rights and Self-Determination movements. The Archive also includes materials from Koori Koolij, which between 1982-1990, delivered a highly successful Aboriginal Health Worker training program from its offices in Collingwood in Melbourne.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, our project “Enhancing Aboriginal Health Worker advocacy and leadership: A new push to resolve Aboriginal Health disparities” is coming to life. This project will harness lived experiences and recorded histories in the AHA to develop an updated curriculum for a modernised Koori Kollij-style Aboriginal Health Worker education programme.

The important insights gained from this project aim to improve the training of all health workers working with First Nations peoples.

Thank-you to the Lord Mayor’s for their commitment to VU’s vision.

Read more about the project.

A lasting legacy for rural students

“When I left high school, I wasn't really sure what I was going to do. I stumbled across the advanced diploma at first, and I just went for that, to see if I could get in. It was really a stepping stone for me, because I wasn't settled on going to university.”

- Thomas


In 2012, the Bogong Scholarship was established thanks to a kind gift from an anonymous donor who wanted to help students from regional areas studying engineering.

The donor funded the scholarship for a number of years during his lifetime, and then left and enduring legacy by leaving a gift in his Will to VU which will mean engineering students are supported for many years to come.

We recently caught up with Thomas who is due to graduate at the end of 2023 and is one of the current recipients of the scholarship.

Hear about how this scholarship had an impact.

Werribee Rotary tee off for Cancer Research

The Rotary Club of Werribee has been holding their annual charity golf day for more than 35 years. This year, the club decided to support the work of Professor Vasso Apostolopoulos, donating the proceeds from the day to cancer research being undertaken at VU’s Werribee campus.

Thank you to the Rotary Club of Werribee for their generous support of this important cause.

Learn more about the charity golf event

VU’s First in Family students get a kick start

“My family was always aware of my strong interest in law and they knew I needed to go to a university like VU that was unique, bold and progressive. But being the first in my family to attend university I had no idea how uni life would work.”

- Celil


VU Kick Start is a free program for first-year students who are of the first generation in their family to attend university. The program is designed to help familiarise these students with university life and undergraduate study, so that they feel more confident as a student, develop better study habits, and build a strong support network from the moment they start.

We know that there can be many obstacles to finishing high school and studying.

Hear more about what it’s like being the first in your family to go to uni.


Kirner Kosky Scholarships continue to transform lives

"It motivated me knowing someone cared about my education and wanted me to succeed in life, that alone made me to work harder than I should have."


Scholarships are transformational to the lives of the students who receive them and a true investment in the future. Thanks to donors like you VU continues to award the Kirner Kosky Scholarship to deserving female students from the west of Melbourne so they can continue to follow their dreams.

Each year, two Kirner Kosky scholarships are awarded to support two female students from Melbourne’s west who have faced barriers in their education, for the duration of their degree.

Some of our current recipients have shared their thanks to donors.



Using innovation to engage men from CALD communities in health innitiatives

Sons of the West participants

“Sons of the West gave me a chance to gain more knowledge about healthy living as well as sharing what I know to other people. For me, the most meaningful thing that Sons of the West brought is the inspiration of challenging myself to become better every day.”


The Son’s of the West (SOTW) men’s health program run by the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation is an important program for men that focuses on learning, being active and making friends.

The program is being delivered to between 500-800 men annually, but there can be barriers to participation for men from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds in many health initiatives.

Thanks to a grant from the Movember Foundation, VU researcher Associate Professor Camilla Brockett and the Western Bulldogs Community Foundation have been able to scale a bespoke Innovation in Engaging CALD Communities initiative to impact more men in the community.

Read more



Surviving & thriving in Australia

“It is remarkable to have three asylum seeker siblings all studying and achieving great results, particularly given the difficulty for asylum seeker and refugee students to access scholarship places,”
- Julie Madden, VU’s Refugee and Asylum Seeker Liaison Officer.

Three siblings who travelled to Australia in the most terrifying circumstances have become high-achievers at Victoria University and in the community. All three have been awarded an Asylum Seeker Scholarship and this has laid the foundations for outstanding success.

Read more about the siblings and their aspiration

Caring for carers

“The healthcare workforce is so large, that it is a sizeable portion of the population, who need to feel protected and supported at work. We need long term solutions to solve this which involves large scale organisational change.”
- Professor Karen Willis

A grant from the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation helped lay the groundwork for national survey of nearly 10,000 healthcare workers during the second wave of 2020’s COVID-19 pandemic. The results have revealed the significant emotional cost for those working in a health system under extreme pressure.

Read more about the study led by Professor Karen Willis

Creating jobs for asylum seeker & refugee students

“The security of regular income and flexible work arrangements ensured the students could concentrate on studies and importantly encouraged them to hold onto their career dream and aspirations.”
- Julie Madden, VU’s Refugee and Asylum Seeker Liaison Officer.

Asylum seeker and refugee (ASR) students can find themselves in real financial difficulty while studying as they can’t access government support. At VU we are proud to have more than 100 ASR students studying across higher and vocational education but with limited work experience, it can be challenging for these students to find work and then transition from study into the workforce.

Read more about the New Horizons program


Paul Ramsay Foundation awards VU $5.5 million to tackle local disadvantage

“It seems inconceivable in a modern Australia that young people from low-income areas fall behind by up to three years in their learning by age 15 compared to people from high income areas.”
- Project lead, Associate Professor Melinda Craike

Victoria University’s Mitchell Institute is proud to have been awarded a $5.5 million grant from one of Australia’s leading philanthropic foundations, the Paul Ramsay Foundation. This multi-year commitment will fund a new community-based research program, aimed at improving the education opportunities and health of children and young people in lower socioeconomic communities in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Read more about the project.

Jill & George Pappas support new prize for Screen Media students

“I was so surprised and proud when I won. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t fighting back tears. The award reminds me that I’m capable of great things.”
- Abbey Hewat, Bachelor of Screen Media student

VU Screen Media Student has won $10,000 Roger Dunn Prize, proudly supported by Mrs Jill Pappas and former Chancellor of Victoria University, Mr George Pappas AO. This prize for students of screen media was established in 2021 in memory of Jill’s brother, Roger Dunn.

Read more about the Prize.

VU researchers use high-tech solutions to help prevent fall injuries

“We are very excited and honoured our research has been recognised by veski and we look forward to collaborating with CYBERDYNE on work that has the potential to positively impact Greater Western Melbourne.”
- Professor Rezaul Begg

Professor Rezaul Begg is one of 15 recipients to receive a combined $2.8 million grant from the Victorian Government via the Study Melbourne Research Partnerships program delivered by veski. Professor Begg and postdoctoral research fellow Dr Hanatsu Nagano are partnering with the Japan-based exoskeleton manufacturer CYBERDYNE and Tsukuba University to bring exoskeleton-assisted movement rehabilitation to medical and research facilities across Australia, including the new Footscray Hospital.

Read more about the project.

How a scholarship changed Hossein

“We took the risk and put our lives in danger to escape, passing through the ocean to achieve something bigger.”
– Hossein Haghi, Iran, Bachelor of Paramedicine

Hossein Haghi’s is one of courage, humility, determination and optimism about the future. Hossein and his wife arrived by boat after a horrific journey, fleeing for their lives from Iran. Detained for 18 months, Hossein remained fiercely determined to study - his hope of creating a meaningful and safe life in Australia never wavering.

Hossein was accepted an Asylum Seekers Scholarship, completing a Bachelor of Paramedicine in 2020.

Read more about Hossein's journey and how proud he is to wear the Ambulance Victoria uniform.

Kirner Kosky Scholarship Recipient Gives Back

Female student in graduation gown looking proud

"Since graduating, I’ve had the privilege to work in several fulfilling positions, including at Ravenhall Correctional Centre helping Aboriginal men transition smoothly back into society, and the Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS), with victims and perpetrators of family violence."

There’s nothing more powerful than telling a student someone like you believes in them enough to support their learning. You’d be amazed by the chain reaction of empowerment it triggers – with consequences that last long after they graduate.

Receiving the Kirner Kosky scholarship started a journey of passion and justice for alumna, Wiradjuri woman Tahlia Zayat. Each year, two scholarships are awarded to support female students from Melbourne’s west who have faced barriers in their education, for the duration of their degree. Tahlia is the first Kirner Kosky scholarship graduate and we are proud to share her story with you.

Read more about Tahlia's story.

Estate of prestigious neurologist funds vital VU research

“We are deeply honoured to receive this contribution from the estate of Dr Charles A Bonsett, a pioneering research clinician of his era. We were saddened to hear of his passing, but feel fortunate be continuing the ASA work in his memory."

– Dr Emma Rybalka

Have you ever thought about the power you have to leave a legacy? Many members of the VU family choose to leave a gift in their will to VU scholarships or research projects, and make a difference for generations to come.

Our Institute for Health & Sport (IHES) recently received a gift in memory from the estate of US neurologist Dr Charles A Bonsett, which will fund a year of critical research into treatments for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The generous gift will enable Dr Rybalka, together with Dr Cara Timpani and the IHES team to keep Dr Bonsett’s methodology alive, with the goal to find an effective treatment for the debilitating disease.

Read about Dr Charles A Bonsett's legacy and VU's groundbreaking research.

Your impact – COVID student support fund

"It means a lot to see all the staff students and the wider VU community coming together to ensure that every international student is supported in any way possible."
– Ashfaq, Sri Lanka, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)

Zahra & Fatemeh


 "Our whole family is so proud. It’s particularly meaningful for mum; she would have studied in Iran, but women are not allowed to get an education."
– Zahra

From the womb to the classroom, twins Zahra and Fatemeh Sayahi have been through the highs and lows of life together. They fled their country of birth, Iran, as teenagers, bound for Australia. And after secondary school they chose the same study pathway from TAFE Business into a Bachelor of Criminal Justice.

Zahra and Fatemeh recently celebrated securing academic Asylum Seeker Scholarships that include accommodation on campus at UniLodge Victoria University.

Read about their career dreams and the common misconceptions people have about them.

Sara Hamidavi

Sara Hamidavi, asylum seeker scholarship recipient, graduating

"Without this scholarship, I would not have been able to attain my goal. I am eternally grateful. I will repay the kindness and generosity by educating young citizens and helping the community.”

– Sara

Victoria University (VU) Polytechnic alumna Sara Hamidavi is an asylum seeker student who studied the Diploma of Early Childhood and Care CHC50113 and went on to complete a Bachelor of Early Childhood.

Sara was one of the first graduates of the Asylum Seeker Scholarship program. She left her home country in Iran to pursue a new life in Australia. Since studying at VU, Sara has been successful in securing employment after completing her placement as part of her diploma qualification at the Polytechnic. Her husband and mother are also currently undertaking courses with VU Polytechnic.

Sara shares her story.

By donating to Victoria University, you can have a real impact on real lives. We are a university with heart, that treasures cultural diversity, and places 'opportunity and success' at the core of our values. Our Asylum Seeker Scholarship and COVID Student Support Fund are just two of the ways we put that ethos into action.

Contact us

Find out more about supporting VU, our students and our wider community, by contacting the Advancement Office.