Leading youth advocate Jan Owen to chair Higher Education think tank

1 March 2013

Left to right: Jan Owen AM, Professor Derrick Armstrong and Gail Whiteford

The University of Sydney was pleased to host a welcome for the new chair of the Bridges to Higher Education Partners Advisory Group Jan Owen AM this week.

The Partners Advisory Group is a NSW first, bringing together key opinion leaders within the NSW education sector to shape the development of Bridges initiatives that encourage children from disadvantaged backgrounds to engage in higher education. The group includes high-level representation from all levels of education in NSW including the five university partners, TAFEs, the Department of Education, the Primary and Secondary Principals Associations, parents' group representatives and key non-Government agencies and the Catholic Education sector.

Annette Cairnduff, the University's representative on the Bridges to Higher Education Management Committee said "we are really thrilled that Jan has agreed to chair the Partners Advisory Group, she is one of Australia's leading advocates for youth and social change. Her energy, vision and commitment to young people in this country will be a real asset to the group."

The event was hosted by Professor Derrick Armstrong, Deputy Vice Chancellor Education who said that the University, through its Compass Program was proud to work in partnership with the other universities with the aim of widening participation in higher education.

Ms Owen said, "The Partners Advisory Group provides an unique opportunity to stimulate the debate in social inclusion in education. By talking with leaders from a wide range of educational stakeholders we can take action to address gaps in educational outcomes. This comes at a crucial time for education in Australia - all those with a voice in education need to work together to ensure we can achieve an expanded array of opportunities for the next generation."

About Jan Owen AM

Jan Owen is CEO of the Foundation for Young Australians.

Jan was named the inaugural Australian Financial Review & Westpac Group 'Woman of Influence 2012'. In 2000 she was awarded membership of the Order of Australia for services to children and young people and in 1999 received a fellowship for leadership and innovation to the Peter Drucker Foundation in the US. Jan is the author of Every Childhood Lasts a Lifetime (1996).

Before joining FYA, Jan was Executive Director of Social Ventures Australia, which aims to increase the impact of the Australian social sector. Prior to this, Jan founded the CREATE Foundation, the national consumer body for children and young people in out of home care.

Jan has contributed to the establishment of many social change organisations in Australia and served on a wide range of Boards. She is currently Board Director, Australian National Development Index (ANDI); Chair, Bridges to Higher Education Advisory Group; Member, RMIT College of Business Industry Advisory Board and Patron of Vanish.

About Bridges to Higher Education

Bridges to Higher Education is a $21.2m initiative, funded by the Commonwealth Government's Higher Education Participation and Partnerships Program (HEPPP), to improve the participation rates of students from disadvantaged communities in higher education. Bridges is a partnership to create new aspiration- and attainment-building programs and build on existing programs targeting school-age children and their parents. This innovative project will work with primary and secondary schools and community partners in Greater Western Sydney to engage young people who previously might not have considered higher education as an option. More than 1.8 million people live in the region which has traditionally been under-represented in higher education participation rates.

The Bridges to Higher Education project brings together the collective resources and experience of the widening participation, equity and social inclusion programs at the University of Western Sydney, The University of Sydney, the University of Technology, Sydney, Macquarie University, and the Australian Catholic University. The partnership extends to include NSW DEC, TAFE NSW, the University Admissions Centre, local government organisations, education offices, indigenous organisations and other community, philanthropic and social enterprise organisations.