A Victorian first in the wheat-belt town of Warracknabeal

by | Jul 17, 2019 | Bush Voices

Education Foundation sets-up in Warracknabeal


Despite the drought – and perhaps because of it – the wheatbelt town of Warracknabeal in the Northern Wimmera has become Victoria’s first to offer further education access and opportunity scholarships via the national Country Education Foundation of Australia.

The CEF of Warracknabeal has been formed with the financial support of the Rotary Clubs of Geelong and Essendon, as well as funding from the Birchip Cropping Group.

In the next year, the CEF of Warracknabeal will offer up to $6000 worth of education grants to assist students from the Yarriambiack Shire with their further education costs.

CEF of Warracknabeal founder Tony Gregson said it all came about when the Geelong and Essendon Rotary clubs decided it was time they offered direct support to country communities enduring the hardships of drought.

Together, the clubs agreed their philanthropic vision was best aligned with the education vision of CEF. 

“These Rotary clubs, as well as local members, are happy to support the CEF principles (because) Rotary are strong supporters of youth-orientated initiatives and developing leaders for the next generation,” Mr Gregson said.


Country Education Foundation of Australia CEO, Wendy Cohen, said the newly-established Warracknabeal Committee brought together experience from the community’s education and business sectors, as well as local government, with an aim of activating and inspiring local students to achieve their goals.

“Drought continues to take a tremendous toll in communities where agriculture defines their lives, ways and means; and I commend Tony (Gregson) and his colleagues for their hard work and vision so far,” Ms Cohen said.

“The financial backing of these metropolitan Rotary clubs means the newly-formed CEF of Warracknabeal can sustainably harness the motivation and energy of local volunteers and be delivering support for young students in just a matter of months.”

Ms Cohen said the establishment of CEF’s first Victorian base was a long-awaited milestone for the foundation.

And that she hoped it would be the first of many to be formalised across the state, with the assistance of the Country Education Partnership (CEP).

“It has been great working with CEP to see this first Victorian CEF Foundation established, and we are already considering how we can work again with CEP to bring more rural and remote communities on board.”

“Establishing a Victorian presence aligns with our overall ambition to increase the footprint of CEF’s work across rural and regional Australia, making sure we support thousands of young, country students each and every year, and a relationship with CEP has assisted us in this endeavour” she said.


Find out more: Applications are now open for education grant support from CEF of Warracknabeal.

WATCH (HERE) the story of  CEF grant recipient, Shannon Graham, from Broken Hill in south west New South Wales. 

So, what is CEF Australia?

The Country Education Foundation Australia was established in NSW in 1993 when a group of community members joined together to raise funds for students who couldn’t afford post-school training or further education.

The idea soon spread and similar foundations were formed elsewhere in NSW at Yass, Cowra and Harden.

CEF has since grown into a family of more than 40 local education foundations across NSW, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia and now, also, Victoria.

Together, the locally-based foundations, under the CEF banner, have helped more than 4000 young Australians undertake post-school training and further education.


And how does it operate?

CEF grants are equity based. Local foundations across the country are run by community volunteers all with one thing in common — a passion for seeing rural and regional youth succeed.

Local foundations engage in fundraising to provide local grants and scholarships to youth in their areas.

The financial support provided ranges from $500 to $5000 per student, per year, helping to buy textbooks and laptops for students, purchase tools and equipment for apprentices, and assist rural and regional youth to relocate to take-up study and/or career opportunities.

CEF also partners with tertiary institutions and corporate and philanthropic organisations to provide funding and support to CEF local grant and scholarship recipients.

WATCH NOW: The story of CEF grant recipient, Shannon Graham, from Broken Hill in south west New South Wales. 


Find out more: Applications are now open for education grant support from CEF of Warracknabeal.