Two local community-focused organisations are joining forces to continue a successful support program for refugee students studying at Hunter Region high schools.
The Mutual Bank is providing funding for 10 Mentor Support Network (MSN) scholarships to be announced at the end of this month.
Chair of MSN’s Refugee Scholarship Committee Pat O’Flaherty said the initiative was at risk this year until the financial institution stepped in.
“The financial assistance from The Mutual Bank of the MSN program is wonderful news,” he stated.
“The Mutual Bank has shown a keen interest in the community-based program and a staff member has volunteered to be a student mentor.
“The scholarships assist marginalised students to have equal access to high school resources and technology (uniforms, ancillary fees, excursions, books, computers, equipment, software and internet access).
“Students from a refugee background can lack access to a range of positive role models and mentors to support their expectations, aspirations and career goals.
“So, a valued component of the support is a 13-week mentoring program, which for some pupils can be as fundamental as how to open and manage a bank account through to managing their scholarship funding or more complex mentoring about life and career choices.”
The Mutual Bank CEO Geoff Seccombe said, as it was member-owned, the bank looked to assist the communities in which its members lived.
He added these MSN scholarships made a real difference to young people and mentoring was a great professional and personal development opportunity for their staff.
“We’re about investing in the Hunter and these scholarships are a great investment in the potential of some of our newest community members,” he explained.
The bank’s finance officer, Martha Nyabadza, was excited for the opportunity to mentor local youth.
She moved to Australia in 2016 so she has first-hand experience of settling into a new community and a new life.
The scholarships will be presented on Tuesday 30 March at 1pm at the Newcastle Harness Racing Club’s function centre.
The program is also being supported by Konekt (career development) and Northern Settlement Services (support services for refugees).
Mentor Support Network is a not-for-profit organisation that, through the provision of education and mentoring support, encourages disadvantaged youth within the Hunter Region to reach their full potential.
Since 2003 it has provided nearly 300 educational scholarships, the refugee scholarships being awarded for the first time in 2019.