Education has the power to transform the lives of disadvantaged students and will play an increasingly important role in the nation's future, former High Court Justice and UNSW Visiting Fellow Michael Kirby has told a UNSW Law scholarship fundraiser.
Around $57,000 was raised at a dinner in Sydney's Canley Vale for the Ngoc Tram Nguyen Scholarship, which assists disadvantaged students from Sydney's south-west.
At the dinner were local studnets and community leaders as well as high profile guests including Mr Kirby and Federal Minister for Justice and UNSWLaw Alumnus Jason Clare.
The scholarship is named after Ngoc Tram Nguyen, a Vietnamese refugee and former UNSW student who understood the transformative power of education. Encouraged by UNSW Law Dean Professor Dixon, Tram began UNSW’s University Preparation Program. Tram said: “My aim is to help my friends and my community some day ... now I can see that day.” She hoped to become a lawyer and a leader of her community.
However, Tram died in an accident before she was able to fulfil her dream.
Delivering a powerful address to over 250 attendees, Justice Kirby spoke of the integral role of public education for the nation’s future, as well as the need for the judiciary to reflect the diversity of Australia’s population.
"If we look around this room and do not realise how important it is to reflect the variety in our country, then we haven’t learnt the lesson of Australia in 2012," he said.
“What the UNSW Law Faculty
is doing is terrific because it combines both a good training in the technicalities of the law, but also a good training in the values of social justice, which all Australians should stand for.”
Similarly, Mr Clare addressed the issue of unequal access to education and reiterated the transformative power of education, which he described as the “keys to the kingdom.”
“These are the sorts of changes that are worth fighting for because of the changes that we make, because of the opportunities that it creates,” he said.
Also in attendance was the first recipient of the scholarship, Victor Lam, who began his law degree this year.
Professor Dixon urged guests to donate generously so the the scholarship program can be expanded.
“Tram was not able to realise her vision, but this scholarship is intended to help others to do so. With your help, we hope to be able to award a new scholarship each year.”
For donations and additional details on the Ngoc Tram Nguyen Scholarship, visit the UNSWLaw website
Ngoc Tram Nguyen Scholarship Dinner