Rob McLean still calls Broken Hill, in far west NSW, home. He and his wife Paula may not live there, they may not get to visit as often as they would like, but the connection runs deep and strong.
The McLean Foundation’s rural tertiary education scholarships are proudly supported and partnered by the Country Education Foundation. The McLean Scholarships focus on Broken Hill students looking to pursue a university education, but without the means to do so themselves.
Rob himself received two scholarships in pursuit of a university education and knows how valuable and life-changing they can be.
“I grew up in Broken Hill, I went to the high school and I received a Rio Tinto scholarship and a Commonwealth scholarship. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to receive scholarships and have my education costs largely supported.”
“Paula and I felt that things have changed a lot in Broken Hill, there’s no longer those types of scholarships available. What hasn’t changed is that there is a lot of really talented students who would really benefit from having the opportunity for a tertiary education.”
The McLean Foundation has four focus areas including protecting Australia’s biodiversity; supporting inter-city, rural and remote literacy programs for disadvantaged Australian children; rural tertiary education scholarships; and community development programs.
In their almost 10-year partnership with the Country Education Foundation the McLean’s have helped and supported 11 ambitious students achieve their education goals.
“We know that CEF is terribly committed to education and do a very good job in the communities it serves,” Rob said.
“The Country Education Foundation has turned out to be one of the lesser involvements we have in relation to our philanthropy because it has capable staff, in other cases we are more involved and closely committed to the organisations we support.”
Rob said he and Paula know the impact their scholarships are having now is nothing compared to opportunities, confidences and options it will open up later. He said they trust their beneficiaries are talented and ambitious, and will have fulfilling careers and lives.
“The time frame for having impact varies a lot. There are some things you can do that have impact quickly, but there are other things you do where the impact isn’t seen for quite a long period of time.”
“I think education is one of those, yes you know there’s an immediate impact with giving somebody an opportunity they otherwise might not have had, but how that gets translated to completing a degree, having a successful career – those things only manifest over a long period of time.”
“We don’t press that as hard as some people do because we’re confident in seeing opportunity provided that’s going to lead to the impact.”
“There’s more need than we’re able to fund and support – to me that’s the hardest part.”