On this day 80 years ago, Aboriginal elder and activist William Cooper set out from West Footscray to march to the German Consulate in Melbourne, leading a protest against the atrocities committed against Jewish people in Nazi Germany on Kristallnacht.
William Cooper’s actions on that day marked him as an advocate for change, not only for his own people but for the marginalised, oppressed and downtrodden everywhere.
By standing up to have his voice heard, William Cooper forged a connection between Indigenous Australians and the Jewish community that lives on today, joined by their shared experience of injustice and determination to speak out against it.
In honour of William Cooper’s legacy, Monash University and Gandel Philanthropy have partnered to support the next generation of Indigenous ‘Agents of Change’ through the William Cooper Indigenous Scholarship Fund.
The new program, launched today, was made possible by a $1 million donation from John Gandel AC and Pauline Gandel. It will provide comprehensive financial support to two Indigenous Australians starting their degrees at Monash every year.
They will join a cohort of high potential students already studying at the University through the Gandel Scholars program, which was established in 2015 to support disadvantaged young people to thrive at Monash.
Well known as business leaders and philanthropists, Mr and Mrs Gandel recently became Patrons of Monash University’s landmark Change it. For good. philanthropy campaign, which aims to raise $500m from 50,000 donors.
“This scholarship fund will ensure the spirit of William Cooper and the connection his protest created between the Jewish and Indigenous communities continues and grows through the students who will benefit,” said John Gandel AC.
Pauline Gandel added: “William Cooper’s legacy deserves to be remembered and celebrated, and to inspire today’s generations of future leaders within the Indigenous community. We’re delighted to be able to support a new generation of change agents in partnership with Monash University, and look forward to seeing how they shape not only their own future, but the future of the community more broadly.”
Monash Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous), Professor Jacinta Elston, said the Gandels’ generosity affirms the University’s newly-launched Indigenous Framework, by providing access and support for young aboriginal men and women entering higher education.
“This partnership will ensure William Cooper’s spirit of advocacy and activism lives on through the next generation of Indigenous students,” she said.
“The funding will support these students throughout their higher education and hopefully enable them to go on to be change makers for their own communities, as well as globally, ensuring Indigenous voices and perspectives are active in helping find solutions to the problems faced by communities around the world.”
Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Margaret Gardner AO, said the gift demonstrates how philanthropy can help make education accessible for all.
“Monash’s philanthropic supporters, such as Gandel Philanthropy, are helping to shape the future of our world,” Professor Gardner said.
“Any gift, large or small, can drive change in our own community and those around the world. Philanthropists play a key role in making that difference, and I am thrilled that as Campaign Patrons, John and Pauline have made this incredible commitment to change it, for good, through Monash.”