Emma Allan has experienced firsthand the impact a lack of health services has on a small regional town.
Emma, 19, comes from Murrayville, Victoria, a town of about 300 people that has one general practice.
“We have got one general practice and they are excellent and incorporate things like physiotherapy,” Emma says.
“But as for actual hospital admissions, or if you need to see a specialist, you are going to have to travel to Adelaide or Mildura. These are everyday health services you could access if you lived in the city.”
This was the motivation for Emma to undertake a Bachelor of Physiotherapy with honours at the University of South Australia.
“I’d just love to be involved in something like that practice because it’s made such a difference to the community in terms of giving people a place to get prescriptions and just get a check-up.”
“It would be good to return to a rural area and be able to give back to the community, and that’s what inspired me to do this degree.”
Emma was awarded a Rural Reconnect Relocation Scholarship last year, which meant she could relocate to Adelaide to undertake her four-year degree.
The University of South Australia scholarship is one of many regional awards still on offer for next year, including the newly-announced George Alexander Scholarship.
Students who come from regional centres often face barriers to pursuing higher education.
These include costs for accommodation, food, books, computers, materials and placement costs.
The George Alexander Foundation UniSA Regional Scholarship Program totals $216,000, with each individual scholarship recipient receiving $24,000 over three years.
George Alexander, an immigrant, farmworker, businessman and lifelong student and teacher, created the foundation as a way of donating his wealth.
Born in London in 1910, he migrated to Australia at 15 alone under the Big Brother movement and spent 18 months working on a dairy farm in western Victoria.
George later combined his knowledge of mechanics and engineering to come up with his own, unique line of brass hose fittings, under his business “Neta”. He sold the business in 1976 and turned to property development and philanthropy.
For Emma, she says her regional scholarship has been invaluable.
In Year 12, Emma was given the choice between universities in Melbourne and Adelaide, but chose the latter as it was closer to her hometown.
“Moving into the city was a big change for me, but the university has been really good and just so accommodating,” she says.
“The scholarship was one example of how they supported me, as well as just helping with lifestyle changes and even the tutor and lecturers made the effort to connect with me and so you don’t just feel like one kid in a big room.
“They are really trying to cater for each student.”
There is a range of regional scholarships available to commencing full-time students from regional Australia who are relocating to Adelaide to pursue an undergraduate program at the University of South Australia.
Governor of the George Alexander Foundation, Susan Crennan AC QC, looked forward to welcoming the first cohort of scholars in 2021.
“George Alexander was inspired to help others overcome barriers to education by his own experiences of hardship and lack of early education,” Susan says.
“As a result, the vision of The George Alexander Foundation (GAF) is for young people across Australia to be able to access opportunities to succeed.
“Through this partnership with The University of South Australia, the Foundation continues its mission to support talented students from regional and rural areas to achieve their educational goals and fulfil their potential.”
UniSA provides scholarships and grants worth millions of dollars. Not only do they provide financial assistance, but they also often include valuable work experience and mentoring opportunities, and are a partner in Solstice Media’s Regional Showcase.
Go online and explore the scholarships search engine to see what you might be eligible for.