BHP Billiton has committed a further A$10 million to the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF) to fund an additional 90 secondary and tertiary scholarships for Indigenous students in Australia.
Building on the success of the existing three-year partnership with AIEF, the investment brings the total value of BHP Billiton’s funding commitment to A$16.3 million to date, delivering 185 secondary and tertiary scholarships during the next 10 years.
BHP Billiton Iron Ore President, Jimmy Wilson, said the partnership with AIEF demonstrated BHP Billiton’s commitment to supporting educational and development opportunities for Indigenous people in Australia.
“I have been privileged enough to spend time with some of the young people on our scholarship program, and their commitment and dedication to achieving their goals is inspiring.
“Not only does the scholarship recipient benefit, they also become role models to other young people in their communities, who can then follow in their footsteps. This ripple effect is very powerful and something that we’re incredibly proud to be associated with.
“Over the past five financial years, we have committed more than A$55 million in education initiatives through the BHP Billiton Community Development Program.” AIEF’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Penfold, said the funding would make a substantial difference.
“One of the biggest barriers to achieving Indigenous equality in Australia is education – we know we have found a sustainable, and scalable, solution that works. We’re seeing it in action every day.
“We’re very pleased to be working with BHP Billiton and, together with the students and their families, celebrating the success we are achieving each year.”
Students who receive secondary scholarships board at a range of Perth-based private schools. The tertiary program encourages students from across Australia to apply for degrees in mining-related disciplines such as engineering at Australian universities.
To date, under the partnership 35 Indigenous students in Western Australia have received secondary scholarships, including 24 students from the Pilbara, with an additional four students receiving tertiary scholarships this year. All of the secondary scholarship recipients have gone on to pursue a university education.
The partnership is funded through the BHP Billiton Community Development Program. The program invested A$58 million into the Western Australian community in FY13, bringing the total investment in Western Australia during the past five years to more than A$200 million.
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