A scholarship honouring the legacy of one of Australia’s great athletes will support two Griffith University Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander budding sport stars.
The Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship is supported by Commonwealth Games Australia and will be awarded to students who are elite athletes, identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and are experiencing financial hardship or educational disadvantage.
The scholarships, worth $11,000 per year of full-time study for up to four years for each student, will be jointly funded by Griffith University and Commonwealth Games Australia.
“Australia has witnessed some remarkable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes over the years and being able to assist with tertiary studies and career paths is something that is close to Griffith,” Mr Free said.
“Athletes can often find it financially challenging competing at a high level and studying at the same time.
“I hope this scholarship allows more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander athletes to understand you can succeed in a dual career of sport and study, allowing a career pathway after sport.”
Ron Clarke AM MBE was both an Olympic and Commonwealth athlete who set 17 run world records over distances from 3.2km to 20km. He was also a qualified accountant.
Clarke had close ties with the Gold Coast, serving as Mayor from 2004 to 2012, and was instrumental in securing the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in 2018.
He died in 2015, aged 78, and his widow, Helen Clarke, said it was an honour for the scholarship to be named in Ron’s memory.
“We are all very proud for Ron’s care of others and especially those who may be disadvantaged, so providing an education opportunity to two young students who may not otherwise have the opportunity would be very close to Ron’s heart,” Mrs Clarke said.
“Ron always had a lot of time for community and young people and he believed wholeheartedly that sport and education went together.”
“He was generous with his time and when he died, I had many emails from overseas saying how Ron had spent time with them and encouraged them to continue with their sporting and education goals.”
Griffith University Pro Vice Chancellor (Indigenous) Professor Cindy Shannon said the university was dedicated to supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and this scholarship was another step towards that.
“There are more and more opportunities for Indigenous high school leavers to come to university, which is fantastic, but there is also a large group that are still very disadvantaged,” Professor Shannon said.
“There’s a unique opportunity for Griffith University to play a leading role in relation to closing the gap in terms of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander higher education outcomes.
“Financial support, like the Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship, brings us closer to closing that gap.”
Commonwealth Games Australia CEO Craig Phillips said the initiative provided another opportunity for the benefits of hosting a home Commonwealth Games to provide meaningful support to aspiring young Australian athletes.
“The Ron Clarke Futures Scholarship provides an opportunity for us to work with Griffith University to support indigenous student athletes, a group who often don’t have the opportunities to pursue their sporting and academic careers,” Phillips said.
“Just as Ron’s life was enriched through sport, his legacy will continue to do the same, in this case by positively impacting the lives of two young indigenous Australians through sport and education.”
In order to be eligible for the Ron Clarke Griffith Futures Scholarship, applicants:
- Must be an Australian Citizen.
- Must be either, eligible for admission to any of Griffith University’s undergraduate degree programs in 2021 or be currently enrolled in any Griffith University’s undergraduate degree programs.
- Must be a student that identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.
- Must be an elite athlete competing in a Commonwealth Games sport and be a member of the Griffith Sports College, or be eligible and have applied for membership.
- Must be experiencing financial hardship and/or educational disadvantage.