This month, three worthy Moranbah women became recipients of Moranbah’s 2023 Community Scholarship Program.
Established in 1997, the idea originally came from the Mining & Energy Union (MEU) Goonyella Riverside Lodge after it was recognised that people who lived in Moranbah, especially non-mining families, found it difficult to send their children away to university.
The MEU Peak Downs lodge jumped on board and it was decided that each of the members from both lodges would put in a dollar a week out of their union dues and that is still happening today.
Goonyella Riverside Lodge Scholarship Director, Simon West said, “The community jumped on board as well with other unions, Isaac Regional Council, Moranbah Community Worker’s Club and local businesses all contributing to the fund. Since its inception, the fund has provided over 2.2 million in scholarships to eligible Moranbah students.”
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics as of May 2021, 48.6% of people aged 25 to 34 years in major cities had a bachelor degree or above, compared to just 21.1% in outer regional areas like Moranbah.
A limited number of scholarships are awarded each year with the goal of improving access to the completion of tertiary education by assisting with the costs associated with studying away from home.
“Any year 12 student with a parent/guardian residing in Moranbah can apply, it is quite competitive, recipients are scored on their application and quality of their interview. We normally give three or four scholarships each year depending on how much money is in the pool,” Mr West acknowledged.
2023 recipient Akshara Vuppu said the funds will support her monthly maintenance costs, university fees and text books while studying a Bachelor of Science at JCU in Townsville. It will also allow her to have some emergency funds which is important, as she will be living so far away from home and family.
Paige Pomeroy, also a 2023 recipient, is heading off to the University of Queensland in Brisbane to commence a Bachelor in Business Management and received a three year scholarship. “Winning the scholarship for me, shows recognition for all my hard work. The scholarship cultivates a strong sense of community spirit and was a big motivator for me to strive for academic success,” said Paige.
Tahlia Ellis took out the third scholarship and shared, “To be the recipient of the Moranbah Community Scholarship is such a privilege. I’m grateful for all the sponsors who have made this program possible for generations of students in Moranbah. This scholarship will allow me to focus on a dual Bachelor Degree in Engineering and Science at the University of Queensland. I am determined to remain connected to Moranbah while I study and hope to progress my career in the region once I graduate.”
Mayor Anne Baker presented the scholarships along with Moranbah Worker’s Club Manager Ashley Dowd. Paige was unable to attend the ceremony as she was already in Brisbane ready to commence her studies.
Access to community scholarships can make the impossible possible for many rural students that have to overcome many barriers to study including leaving friends and family behind, increasing cost of living and accommodation shortages. This combined community scholarship program encourages Moranbah students to think big and follow their dreams.