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Mining and Energy Union Mineworkers Trust

Philipa Sills from Gunnedah is one of 20 recipients of the Mining and Energy Union (MEU) Mineworkers Trust, receiving $7,000 to go towards her expenses while undertaking a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood and Primary) at the University of New England.

The Trust has supported numerous projects over the years from air-conditioning schools to charity fundraisers and their annual scholarship program. The program is for union members, their families, and dependents, to assist with expenses for further education.

Philipa’s husband Ben has worked in the mining industry for 13 years and is an MEU member at Boggabri working for Idemitsu.

Philipa said she wants to pursue an education degree because she can see the high demand for early childhood and primary school teachers in her local community that is growing more and more each year – predominantly with mining families.

“I feel really lucky to be one of the few recipients, I honestly didn’t think I would be successful. I thought it would go to someone younger straight out of school, so I was pleasantly surprised.

“I want to study early childhood and primary education because I feel it is a very rewarding industry to work in. Your influence has a direct impact on a child’s future. By studying this degree, I am gaining the skills, knowledge and the tools to best guide and support not only children but colleagues in their growth and development and helping shape their future into a bright one.”

It’ll be a juggle, studying with three children and a husband working long hours in the mines, but Philipa strongly believes it’ll be worth it.

Philipa said in her application for the scholarship that her community would benefit from her having a degree in this field as she’ll be able to fill the teaching and educator positions that she believes the town so desperately needs.

“There is nothing easy about studying with children and a husband who works long hours, but I have a lot of support and encouragement around me, particularly from my husband and his family and my parents too.

“It wasn’t a decision I made lightly but I will make it work. I spend a lot of late nights studying and listening to lectures in the car. While I miss my Netflix favourites, for now having discipline and time management is more important.”

Philipa said she couldn’t be more thankful to the MEU for the scholarship and how they advocate for their members.

“The mining industry is so important to the Gunnedah community. Over the years it has allowed our town to grow. It has provided jobs for locals and enticed people to move here and the flow on effect has helped the economy and small businesses grow too.

“By having mining companies in our community, it takes the pressure off smaller businesses when it comes to supporting local sporting clubs and not-for-profit organisations to run and hold events that are reliant on donations. I am very appreciative of the opportunities that mining has provided for my family alone in the last 13 years.”

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