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  • Writer's pictureEliane Deschrijver

Australia Day: I'm donating prize money to support the education of Indigenous Australians

Last week, I've received the fantastic news of being awarded the Best Research Paper Award in Basic Science for Early and Mid Career Researchers (for Deschrijver & Palmer, 2020), by the peak body for psychiatric and mental health research in Australia and New Zealand: the Society for Mental Health Research (SMHR). It came with a complementary membership, a registration for their 41th annual conference, and $1000.

My co-author Colin Palmer humbly refused my offer to accept half of the prize money, so I decided I will donate most of it to a highly effective science-based charity, that is, what remains of it after a celebratory dinner ('is goe gon ete'). In the context of Australia Day which is happening today, the money will go to the Go Foundation of Indigenous Australian Football League (AFL) player Adam Goodes.

For those who don't know: Australia day is the national day of Australia, which celebrates the 1788 arrival of the first British fleet. Not surprisingly, it is a polarising event, and sometimes also referred to as 'Invasion day'. Adam Goodes, on the other hand, is an native Australian known for his advocacy against discrimination. As an indigenous AFL-player, he suffered from years of backlash and 'booing' for his speaking out against racist slurs by the crowd. If there is any movie you should see to gain insights in the history of Australia, 'The Australian Dream', which depicts his heartbreaking story in a documentary, may be it.

"Our burning desire is to create opportunities for Indigenous youth through education."

Indigenous children and young adults in Australia are still way less likely to receive a proper education, as compared to non-indigenous Australians. Therefore, the GO Foundation provides scholarships to Indigenous students from kindergarten through to university. It includes opportunities like cultural mentoring, homework support, leadership training, exposure to a broad range of career options, work experience and paid internships, and STEM training. Obviously, my heart lies with the future of STEM: I cannot imagine a better way to facilitate diversity amongst the next generation of scientists. Consider donating, too.

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