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Australian philanthropy win: 64,000 donors support 4000 causes

16 August 2019
Celebrating our donors on Thank You Day

Australian philanthropy reached new heights when the University of Sydney raised $1 billion from 64,000 donors. On 17 September, we celebrate your generosity with Thank You Day. Here are a few things you have made possible.

Illustration of text reading, 'What can you do with a billion dollars'

Illustration: Rudi de Wet

Create more than 2000 new scholarships

Scholarships give our students the chance to shine. Across every faculty, donor-funded scholarships have supported those who would otherwise be unable to attend university.

Develop state-of-the-art buildings

Gifts to the University have literally changed the shape of our campus, funding the construction of new spaces for research and learning, including the Charles Perkins Centre, where researchers are tackling dangerous lifestyle diseases, and the soon-to-be-completed Chau Chak Wing Museum.

Establish more than 35 academic chairs

Academic chairs are the superstars of the research world – the University’s top specialists in their fields. Thanks to donor support, we’ve employed world‑leading researchers in fields ranging from archaeology to childhood medicine. The chairs drive excellence in research and teaching, mentor academic colleagues and ensure that findings in their discipline make an impact in the world beyond the University. Professor Robert Park, for instance, is the Judith and David Coffey Chair of Sustainable Agriculture – a position named for the donors who established it with a $4 million gift. Park’s team works to breed disease‑resistant crops, saving the Australian wheat industry more than $600 million a year.

Send health kits to people in need

Wash cloths, deodorant, toothbrushes and first‑aid supplies – most of us take such things for granted, but for people in need, they can make a huge difference. With help from donors and volunteers, the University of Sydney Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery has sent health kits packed with useful supplies to rural NSW, Papua New Guinea and Central Africa. The kits allow women to give birth in hygienic conditions, assist remote Indigenous communities and help get the homeless back on their feet.

Poche Centre oral health practitioners at work.

The Poche Centre works in partnership with Aboriginal communities and has delivered 33,390 healthcare services.

Train hundreds of health practitioners

The University’s Poche Centre for Indigenous Health, established thanks to a $10 million donation from Greg Poche and Kay Van Norton Poche, works with Indigenous communities to improve healthcare services. Through scholarships, the centre has supported the studies of more than 400 Indigenous healthcare practitioners, and created pathways for them to work in their communities. Elsewhere at the University, the Hoç Mãi Foundation provides training for Vietnamese clinicians to improve the standard of healthcare in their homeland. Thanks to donor support, Vietnamese students can travel to Australia and learn from working doctors and nurses. The program’s graduates bring home knowledge that benefits both patients and future clinicians.

Enrich the careers of 963 school teachers

The philanthropically funded STEM Teacher Enrichment Academy trains primary and secondary school teachers to get their students excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics. More than 194 schools have participated, equipping nearly a thousand teachers with the tools they need to motivate and inspire their students.

University researchers working to restore Sydney's oyster reefs.

University researchers are working to restore Sydney's oyster reefs.

Restore Sydney's oyster reefs

A team of marine scientists, led by University researchers, is working to restore Sydney’s oyster reefs in a project funded by a donation from the Maple‑Brown Family Foundation. Oyster reefs can improve water quality and create hotspots for biodiversity. The restoration of a single hectare of oyster reefs will deliver economic benefits of more than $350,000.

Launch thriving student start-ups

The Inventing the Future program brings students from various faculties together to create commercially viable products that address the world’s problems. The program, supported by the Alexander Gosling Innovation and Commercialisation Fund, has helped create student businesses that are attracting millions in investments and grants. Our student entrepreneurs are finding technological solutions to problems in industries ranging from health care to agriculture.

Illuminate the Great Hall

Lighting engineer Professor Barry Webb was sitting in the Great Hall, watching his granddaughter receive a scholarship, when it occurred to him that the space’s century‑old lighting technology could do with an update. He produced a proposal and, thanks to a $600,000 donation from the family of Dr Charles Warman, the work began soon afterwards. The new lighting shows off the hall’s historic features and makes it a more versatile space.


On 17 September, we celebrate University donors with Thank You Day. Learn more about how our donors are changing the world.

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