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On Thank You Day, donors give millions to education and research

17 September 2019
Acknowledging University donors on Thank You Day, 17 September
As the University celebrates the generosity of its donors with Thank You Day, three supporters have contributed close to $3 million to causes from scholarships to medical research.
Photograph of Adam Scott, who has donated $1.6 million to scholarships through his Adam Scott Foundation.

Adam Scott has donated $1.6 million to scholarships through his Adam Scott Foundation.

Adam Scott and the University of Sydney join forces to help students

Australia’s premier golfer Adam Scott will partner with the University of Sydney to offer an annual scholarship funded by a grant from Scott’s philanthropic foundation.

The $1.6 million grant from the Adam Scott Foundation will fund eight four-year scholarships for undergraduate students experiencing hardship or disadvantage. The scholarships, valued at up to $50,000 a year, will be awarded from 2020 to students who demonstrate academic potential, leadership skills and involvement in extracurricular activities, while overcoming challenges in their lives. The scholarships will cover University fees, living expenses and, where applicable, residency at University-owned accommodation.

“We are delighted to have realised our objective of a scholarship program in Sydney via a partnership with the University of Sydney,” said Scott.

The scholarships form part of the wider education program within the foundation, which aims to support young people. It also supports tertiary scholarships in Queensland and South Australia.

Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson thanked Scott for his generous commitment. “One of the most challenging issues for students from disadvantaged backgrounds is the cost of living while studying in Sydney,” she said. “To have access to a scholarship that covers so many expenses will make it possible for students to overcome this major hurdle. This generous gift will be transformative for the recipients.”

Since its formation in 2005, the Adam Scott Foundation has undertaken many activities to support young people. The gift towards the new scholarship reflects Scott’s belief in the power of education to transform lives.

“The goal of the foundation is to help young people in need overcome challenges and fulfil their potential,” said Scott. “I’m delighted to be able to open up new opportunities for young people in their educational pursuits by supporting scholarships at the University of Sydney.”

Apply for the Adam Scott Foundation Scholarship.

Photograph of Richard and Lynda Rouse, who have given $1 million to medical research.

Lynda and Richard Rouse have given $1 million to medical research.

Solving the mystery of a motor neuron disease mimic

Richard and Lynda Rouse are donating $1 million to the University's Brain and Mind Centre to help solve the mystery of inclusion body myositis, a little-known condition commonly misdiagnosed as motor neuron disease.

Richard Rouse knows firsthand what it's like to suffer from the condition. Doctors originally told him he had motor neuron disease. He hopes the gift will help spare others the distress of misdiagnosis and incorrect treatment.

"It took eighteen months for me to receive an accurate diagnosis," he said. "From the day I was diagnosed with this four years ago, nobody seemed to know anything about it. Even medical specialists have usually never heard of it."

Inclusion body myositis is a rare muscular disorder that affects an estimated 1200 Australians. Symptoms include progressive disability with loss of function in the legs, arms and fingers. Risk of serious injury from falls is increased for those who are still mobile. Some patients have progressive difficulty swallowing. The cause is unknown, diagnosis is difficult and there is currently no treatment.

"It is often difficult to distinguish from motor neuron disease," said Professor Simon Hawke from the Brain and Mind Centre. "Muscle biopsy, a painful and invasive procedure where tissue and cells are removed, is currently the only way to make an accurate diagnosis."

Research is the next crucial step towards improving diagnosis and outcomes. The Rouse Initiative in Inclusion Body Myositis Research will investigate the progression and pathology of the disease, using the Brain and Mind Centre's collection of more than 2000 muscle biopsies – one of the largest stockpiles of such material in the world. The research could lead to developments such as a diagnostic blood test and an algorithm to enable directed therapy for individual patients.

The gift that will help protect teachers' mental health

Health issues such as anxiety and stress are driving teachers out of their profession, with up to 40 percent leaving within the first five years. To help address the problem, the University of Sydney and Teachers Health Foundation are joining forces. The foundation, the charitable trust of insurance fund Teachers Health, has awarded the University’s Charles Perkins Centre a $250,000 grant to support research into teachers’ wellbeing.

The philanthropic grant will establish a PhD scholarship for research into the relationship between teachers’ lifestyles and their physical and mental health. The work will include a survey of primary and high school teachers across NSW about their wellbeing, as well as factors such as diet, exercise, weight, smoking and alcohol.

“We know that there are several health and lifestyle challenges that teachers experience due to the nature of their work,” said Teachers Health chief executive officer, Brad Joyce. “Sadly, we know there is a concerning rate of chronic disease and mental health issues within the sector that need to be addressed. At Teachers Health Foundation, our focus is on these areas, particularly improving teacher wellbeing and prevention of stress and chronic disease.”

As well as examining factors affecting teachers’ health, the study will assess existing programs and resources available to improve their wellbeing. Resources currently available include helplines, online programs, in-school training and counselling. The study will identify which programs are most helpful, and how they could be implemented more broadly across the sector.

“We believe education and health are interdependent,” Joyce said. “The health and wellbeing of our educators is vital to achieving a quality education sector and, equally, quality education is essential for individuals and communities to thrive. So these are issues that have an impact on society at large.”


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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