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Hopeful parents pave the way for a culturally competent future

6 October 2016
University parents create cross-cultural opportunities

Two proud parents of a current University student have made a gift that will create a range of opportunities for Indigenous Australians and allow students to have life-changing educational experiences.

Anne and Mark Lazberger are two of the many proud parents who form part of the University of Sydney community. Their daughter, Amelia, is in her second year at Sydney and has a bright future ahead of her.

They’re grateful for the career opportunities that a quality education will provide for their daughter. However, they’re also acutely aware that not all communities are able to access, or enjoy, the benefits of a world-class degree.

Extending family support

The Lazbergers wanted to provide better access to education for financially-burdened students, particularly students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds. So in 2015 they gave to the University’s Freedom Rides campaign to support talented Aboriginal students from across NSW.

The Lazbergers were pleased to support this campaign, but eager to learn about other ways they could make a real and lasting difference, including encouraging other parents to do the same.   

Mark Lazberger recalls being “blown away” by the enthusiasm shown from Professor Shane Houston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Indigenous Strategy and Services, for what could be achieved in the Indigenous space.  

“When we heard about the concept of the Service Learning Hubs, we knew it was an idea that could make a really tangible difference to both the education of students and the Indigenous communities in Australia.” says Mark.

Enriching the student experience

Service Learning Hubs are virtual centres that facilitate projects between students and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Inspired by the University’s commitment to cultural competence and community development, the Lazberger family made a gift to establish the ‘Lazberger Initiative’. This initiative will not only support Service Learning Hubs, but will also provide hundreds of student service learning placements over the next five years.

Students will live and work with Indigenous Australian communities, develop their cultural competence, and learn first-hand about the rich culture and traditions of these communities. The Lazberger Initiative will establish a remarkable 120 travelling scholarships, enabling 24 financially disadvantaged students to participate in a hub project each year.  

Students visiting a regional Indigenous community

According to Anne Lazberger, “The hubs are also somewhat exponential in terms of support – if these go well, we could support them for well beyond the first five years of the program.”

Professor Shane Houston considers the Lazberger Initiative to be of immense significance to the University of Sydney, and to the broader community as a whole. “This gift will enrich the lives of our students who participate, and it will help to foster personal, social, economic and cultural growth and development in Aboriginal communities.”

Calling on other parents

The Lazberger family look forward to the opportunities for real-world change that their gift will enable, and they encourage other parents to help pave the way for other impactful initiatives at the University of Sydney.

If you’re a proud parent and would like to help more kids get to university, join our Pave the Way campaign today and give to show your support.