Indigenous Programme | Melbourne Grammar School

Indigenous Programme

In welcoming Indigenous students from all over Australia we endeavour to assist young men in becoming the next generation of leaders.

“I happen to know for a fact
That each and every single one of you has a story
So different from one another.
They are stories of the past
The past that has (and is now) shaping your future.”

Josef Lew Fatt (OM 2016) Past Melbourne Grammar School Indigenous student from Darwin

The Indigenous Programme demonstrates our commitment to Reconciliation by providing young Indigenous men with bursaries to attend Melbourne Grammar School. Twenty-eight boys have graduated or are currently studying at the School as part of the programme and we are incredibly proud of their achievements.

The Indigenous Programme is not just about academic or sporting success; rather, our students are supported to develop their learning skills, to conquer personal challenges, and to grow both their relationships and their self-belief. The strength of the programme is in the support it offers to students and their families as they consider future study pathways, career options and life goals.

While the programme aims to bridge the educational gap between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and the wider Australian population, it is a valuable two-way exchange. All of our students benefit from the bringing together of cultures through school camps, opportunities to work in remote Indigenous communities and through an active engagement with Indigenous history and contemporary issues within the classroom.

For every student at our school, the Indigenous Programme helps develop an appreciation and empathy for diverse Australian cultures and peoples. Please see below for further information on Indigenous bursaries, and philanthropic giving to support the ongoing success of the programme.

As a leader in the area of boys education, we are well placed to prepare Indigenous students from all over Australia for the rigours of tertiary study and other pathways. By offering opportunities and pathways to young Indigenous men we aim to promote social justice and go some way to addressing the unfinished business of Reconciliation.

“Young Indigenous men need educational experiences that enable them to link their culture with other cultures, that make clear the role they can play in creating generational change. We must provide them with a belief that they can make valuable contributions to the whole community, while being proud of their heritage.” – Deborah Walsh, social justice advocate, member of the Indigenous Programme Steering Committee, and grandmother of Jika Lovett, a student in the programme.

Students who attend our School on Indigenous Bursaries are supported by:

  • an onsite Indigenous Programme Manager
  • academic tutoring and mentoring through the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation
  • warm supportive pastoral care through the House system
  • the celebration of key cultural activities
  • an annual weekend retreat for reflection.

Out-of-town families are invited to join us on a two-day city orientation that includes a school tour and welcome dinner, as well as an introduction to the Melbourne CBD.

Admissions process for Indigenous students › 

Named in honour of William Barak – an artist, leader and ambassador for Indigenous people – the Barak Gallery was established in 2002 as a dedicated space for exhibiting Indigenous art within Melbourne Grammar School.

Barak was the last traditional elder of the Wurundjeri-willam clan, who were the first inhabitants of present-day Melbourne. His astounding artworks, which show traditional Indigenous life and also encounters with Europeans, are exhibited in leading galleries throughout Australia.

In seeking to honour the legacy of this extraordinary man, the Barak Gallery is designed to provoke thought and encourage cultural engagement. With a range of Aboriginal art from various traditions and backgrounds, the gallery celebrates artistic expression and challenges artistic stereotypes. This space also aims to affirm Indigenous identity, and pays homage to the oldest living culture in the world.

Two of the current key issues in Australia are access to high-quality education and the development and maintenance of strong cultural understanding and connections. By supporting our Indigenous Programme, you are assisting us to meet both these needs and making a real difference in the lives of our students.

We are committed to funding places for ten Indigenous students in any given year, and would like to help more young Indigenous students realise their potential.

Your support will help us to encourage Indigenous students to dream big, strive hard and achieve their personal goals. Increasing equity of access is more than a social imperative – it is a vital investment in Australia’s future.

Ways to Give › 

A team of passionate Old Melburnians, parents, Indigenous community leaders and staff are committed to guiding the programme and ensuring its long-term success.

Natalie Charles, Head of the Indigenous Programme, provides the overall strategic direction while Philip O’Connor, the Indigenous Programme Manager, provides dedicated pastoral care and academic support to all students in the programme, as well as helping students stay connected with their families.

Indigenous Steering Committee

Chair Ian Ward-Ambler
Headmaster Roy Kelley

Adrian Appo OAM

Peter Greenberg OAM

David Harper AM

Alice Hill

Jason Mifsud 

Rupert Myer AO

Josée Pinsonneault
Director of Development

Seri Renkin

Deb Walsh



Further reading:

Admissions - Indigenous Students › 

Indigenous Bursary Programme ›



Indigenous Programme Contacts

Phil O'Connor
Phil O'Connor
Head of Service Learning and Indigenous Programme Manager

Phil is the Head of Service Learning across the School and manages our Values in Action programme and popular Community Speaker Series. Phil is also our Indigenous Programme Manager and acts as a link between the School, our Indigenous students and their families.

Alex Law
Alex Law
Admissions Manager

Alex manages the School’s admissions process and procedures. He handles all enrolment and scholarship matters.

News & Events


Mon, 19 Feb 2018 - 8:00pm
Wed, 21 Feb 2018 -
7:30pm to 9:30pm

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 - 8:00pm

Wed, 21 Feb 2018 - 8:00pm to Fri, 23 Feb 2018 - 8:00pm
Thu, 22 Feb 2018 -
7:30pm to 9:30pm

Booked Out
Thu, 22 Feb 2018 - 8:00pm
Fri, 23 Feb 2018 - 8:00pm
Mon, 26 Feb 2018 -
7:00pm to 9:00pm

Tue, 27 Feb 2018 -
7:30pm to 9:30pm

Wed, 28 Feb 2018 -
6:30pm to 8:30pm