Prime Minister announces major financial support for University linked Future Direction Network

23 May 2013

Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced a $500,000 grant to the support Future Direction Network (FDN) scholarships, founded by University of Sydney Business School alumnus and NSW Young Australian of the year, Corey Payne.

Ms Gillard made the announcement during a surprise visit to a joint FDN-University of Sydney information evening in the Sydney suburb of Revesby attended by around 500 prospective students and family members.

During a visit to Western Sydney earlier in the year, the Prime Minister told Mr Payne that she was "impressed" with the work of his organisation. She also met with Fairfield High School students who were being assisted by the network.

"This support from the federal government is a huge milestone for FDN," said Mr Payne following the announcement. "It shows an enormous amount of confidence and belief in our work."

Mr Payne grew up in the region and is only the second member of his family to obtain a tertiary education. He established FDN as a way of providing mentoring, career planning, information, logistical support and financial assistance to young people from southwest Sydney who want to attend university. FDN works in partnership with the University's Compass Program at Fairfield and Westfield Sports High Schools.

He grew up in the region and is only the second member of his family to obtain a tertiary education.

"With this help from the federal government we should be in a position by the end of this year to award at least nine scholarships per year on an ongoing basis," said Mr Payne who is also a former Bulldogs rugby league star.

During her brief visit to the Revesby information evening, the Prime Minister talked of the importance of education, particularly at a tertiary level. "Ms Gillard's presence was inspiring," said one participant.

"It was fantastic to have the Prime Minister come to the event and donate such a large amount to FDN," said Lauren Pearce, a student who entered the University this year through the E12 program and received one fo the first FDN scholarships. "This is going to provide great opportunities for students from southwest Sydney to not only go to University, but to follow their dreams."

"The drive for more students from southwest Sydney to pursue a university education is a shared passion of FDN and the University of Sydney, and we are pleased that the federal government have committed their support for such an important cause," said Professor Tyrone Carlin, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education Operations) and Co-Dean of the University of Sydney Business School.

In 2011, the University of Sydney recognised Corey Payne's outstanding efforts with a Young Alumni Award for Achievement.

At the end of last year he was named New South Wales Young Australian of the Year for 2013 "for his drive to help young people from less privileged schools and low socioeconomic areas pursue higher education".

Mr Payne is now FDN's Executive Chairman.