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Katrina Dawson Foundation - Sydney siege victim's legacy lives on

08 June 2016

For the families and victims of the Lindt Café siege in Sydney in 2014, ongoing investigations and the inevitable accompanying media coverage are painful reminders of the tragic event.

For the family and friends of Barrister Katrina Dawson, killed during the siege, a degree of comfort has come in the form of the Katrina Dawson Foundation (KDF), a charity the family has set up that finds, funds and mentors inspiring young women.

This year the first scholarships to study at Sydney University and attend Women’s College were awarded.

Foundation CEO Nikki Dawson (and Katrina’s sister-in-law) notes: “… what’s important is remembering the person and her life.

“Katrina did a lot of work in the community and for the community. She was well aware that access to education is the foundation for success in life. To have the sort of positive impact Katrina had in life stop with her death made no sense to any of us.

“Friends and colleagues told us they wanted to do more than flowers at a memorial. The Foundation is a way forward for us all.”

The Katrina Dawson Foundation partners with a number of organisations to deliver its programs.

The programs include:

Scholarships for undergraduates to the Women’s College at the University of Sydney

The Katrina Dawson Fellowship for a senior or postgraduate student

High School Prizes to celebrate academic achievement and community involvement

All scholarships, awards and programs or support are offered directly by the partner organisations.

The Women’s College scholarships seek out young women who can demonstrate that the financial and life hurdles they face preclude them from being able to attend university. The applicants must also show academic prowess and, most importantly, how they’ve participated in the wider community.

Kate Field and Angie Lu are the inaugural winners of the Women’s College undergraduates scholarships. (Second Year Arts Engineering undergraduate Catherine Priestley also received a scholarship – co-funded with the Macquarie Group Foundation). Between end of term essays and exams, Angie and Kate took the time to provide us with a bit of an overview of what KDF has meant to them so far.

Kate is studying a Bachelor of Architecture and Environments. She hopes to work as an urban designer in communities in Asia Pacific, helping combat the effects of climate change in areas that may not have the loudest voices on the world stage. She dreams of being able to sustainably redesign towns and cities affected by rising sea levels and other environmental issues.

Angie is undertaking a double degree - Arts and Science - and wants to major in Mathematics and English. Her plan is to pursue a post-graduate pathway with an education focus, teach in a high school and, ideally, seek development opportunities within the management and curriculum side of the Australian education system.

Kate believes her interests in public speaking and community engagement roles supported her KDF Scholarship win. A competitor in the NSW State Finals for Lions Youth of the Year two years in a row, she says the experience improved her public speaking, interview and communication skills allowing her to speak comfortably and confidently in her interview with Sydney University’s Women’s College.

She’s been a Facilitator for Youth Leading the World and spoken about her passion for environmentalism at the World Parks Congress as well as stepping up in her rural home community as a change maker.

In year 12, Angie was elected College Captain, awarded Dux and was leader of the school’s Chamber Ensemble. She connected with her local community through debating and social justice initiatives; managed a variety of school events, competed in various school sport events and contributed to her school’s student magazine.

Both young women wanted to study at Sydney University and to do so they needed support.

Growing up on a remote property in the Upper Hunter, Kate’s round trip to school was three hours a day – but she still managed to achieve Dux for her last three years of high-school. To attend Sydney University she would need to live out of home, commute and work long hours in order to pay the bills: “The KDF Scholarship eased the financial burden on my family and on me. It has opened so many doors for me.”

Angie, who is from the ACT, knew Sydney had an entire faculty dedicated to Education, with a world renowned, globally connected network. Finding a suitable place to live whilst knowing she was ill-equipped to independently support herself and study encouraged her to apply for the scholarship.

“I knew the location would be great,” Angie explains.

“The College is so close to shopping centres, public transport and it’s in the university. Living amongst some of the most talented and gorgeous people I’ve ever met has not only been the most unexpected benefit, but also the utmost privilege.”

Kate believed the support network at Women’s College would be a positive. She saw moving away from home and starting a new life in the city as a huge step: “The good thing about living at college is that you are surrounded by girls who are feeling the same way a lot of the time. When I am missing home, it’s so nice to talk to my friends, who live just down the hallway. Another way I combat homesickness is by staying in touch with my family so I remember they’re only a phone call away.”

Angie copes with homesickness in similar ways and has found College to be like a home away from home which helps.

The Women’s College and Ruby have a long association. Westpac Women’s Markets has worked on a number of initiatives with the college to further the financial literacy of students.

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