About the Scholarship

The Aunty Mary Atkinson Scholarship Program is being offered for the first time in 2020 through a partnership between the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Inc. and the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR).

The Scholarship Program will assist Victorian Aboriginal students by investing in their academic development, and providing financial support to undertake full-time study in a broad range of fields related to the portfolio areas of the (DJPR).

The department will award up to eight scholarships at any one time of $30,000 annually for up to four years to support both undergraduate and postgraduate students. Successful scholarship recipients will receive their scholarship as a fortnightly allowance over the year from VAEAI.

Aunty Mary Atkinson

Mary Atkinson was a Wiradjuri and Bangerang Elder, whose tenacity and integrity
made her an inspirational leader. She dedicated her life to the pursuit of
equality for Aboriginal people, particularly in the area of education, which
she saw as fundamental to changing lives for the better.

believed all Aboriginal children had the right to a quality education. She
became one of the first regional members of the Victorian Aboriginal Education
Consultative Group in 1978, and founded a local branch the same year. The group
delivered programs that improved educational outcomes across the Goulburn
Valley region.

In 1990, Mary was elected President of the Victorian Aboriginal Education Association Incorporated (VAEAI), a position she held until her retirement in 1999. Among her achievements in the role was a formal partnership between the Aboriginal community and the Victorian Department of Education, to ensure collaboration and consultation in all education-related policy. The agreement set the standard for similar partnerships between government agencies and the community.

The Scholarship Program has been named in honour of Aunty Mary Atkinson and her lifelong commitment to quality education for Aboriginal people.


To be eligible for the Scholarship Program, applicants must meet the following criteria:


  • Be an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander person; and
  •  Identify as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, and
  • Is accepted as such by the community in which they live, or formerly lived; and
  • Provide a “confirmation of Aboriginality” consistent with the Commonwealth Government definition.


  • Have resided in the State of Victoria for the past five years prior to applying.


  • Have successfully completed the first year of an undergraduate or entered into a postgraduate course and be undertaking full-time studies within a relevant and approved field of study at a Victorian tertiary institution.
  • Be studying in the field of business, commerce and finance, agriculture, environmental science and bioscience, public administration and town planning, health sciences, community development, or engineering.

  • Preference will be given to students undertaking study in the above fields however, other areas of study may be considered on a case by case basis.

How To Apply

Applications for the Aunty Mary Atkinson Scholarship Program for 2021 are now OPEN.

To apply, complete the online application form: https://www.vaeai.org.au/aunty-mary-atkinson-scholarship-application-2021/


Applications close on the 26th of November 2021 at midnight. In the absence of exceptional circumstances, late applications will not be considered.

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