Country Education Foundation of Australia —Wendy Cohen, CEO  (cef.org.au)
Wendy travelled from Orange, NSW,  to address Rotarians, partners and key people in local government, community groups and secondary education. Guests included Shire CEO, Jessie Holmes, WSC Principal Therese Allen, WSC Acting Assistant Principal, Casey Phelan, Birchip P-12 Principal John Richmond and Birchip Cropping Group Engagement & Services Manager, Louisa Ferrier.
The idea of a CEF started in Boorowa, NSW, 25 years ago when a group of community members came together to raise funds for students who couldn’t afford post-school training or further education. The idea soon spread and now there are 44 local education foundations run by more than 400 volunteers around Australia- but none in Victoria. Funding from the private sector, individual donations and corporate, philanthropic and educational partners, and bank interest have enabled the CEF to financially support nearly 5000 students with over $9 million worth of grants and scholarships.
Young people from rural and remote Australia face barriers and obstacles in being able to access further education, creating significant disparity between aspiration and opportunity. “Your postcode shouldn’t determine if and where you can go for further education, or limit the career path you take” said Wendy.
The Rotary Club of Warracknabeal is very keen to drive the establishment of such a foundation in our region, as our young people face many of the same obstacles and barriers that Wendy identified as common in rural areas.  It makes sense to follow a successful model. Through associating with the CEF any new Foundation has access to assistance with governance, policies, practices and strategies for volunteers. It is a registered Not for Profit charity with Tax Deductable Gift status. The high success rate of CEF recipients completing course and finding employment in chosen fields, together with the steady growth of the CEF, are more reasons for thinking seriously about this model for our area.  Thanks to President Chris for initiating the vision after being offered support for drought relief form several Rotary sources. And thanks to Tony, through his contact with CFE Ambassador, Tim Fisher AC,  for following up this concept and securing Wendy to speak at our meeting.
“An investment in education gives the best returns”
Benjamin Franklin