The University of Newcastle, Australia

Leaving a legacy

Friday, 17 August 2018

UON alumni Tanya Murray-Russell and Robert Russell are passionate about supporting Indigenous education. The couple have turned their passion into commitment by making, and talking about, their intention to leave a gift in their Will to establish a scholarship to support Indigenous students. We caught up with them to learn more about their decision; and their approach to sharing their intention with family.

A bequest is a personal expression of your values. How have your own life experiences influenced your decision to support indigenous education?

Tanya: It was not an expected thing in my family to go to university: we never spoke about it as an option when I was growing up. I put myself through university and have experienced the positive impact higher education can have
on a person’s life.

Rob: Education in all senses (literacy, numeracy, social and emotional) underpins my values approach to life. Everything you do is a learning opportunity if you’re open to learning from both successes and setbacks. Resilience matters and education is empowerment. The disadvantage equated with Aboriginality can be turned into stunning and outstanding advantage through education.

Why have you chosen UON as a vehicle for your support?

Tanya: As an alumna, I’m proud to be associated with a university that is forward thinking, innovative and continuously improving the provision of education. I’m a proud Novocastrian and I also appreciate the business and reputation that UON has delivered to our community on the world stage.

Why do you think it’s important to talk about your intention in advance?

Rob: It has enabled us to explore the most efficient and effective ways to contribute, as well as enjoying time with like-minded UON supporters.

Tanya: We wanted to leave a legacy that the family knew about in advance so that there wouldn’t be any doubt. A legally binding document provides that clarity.

“Education is one way of elevating individuals to achieve great things in their lifetime: for themselves, their families and their communities. This value of learning, plus my lifetime commitment to help disadvantaged communities, influenced my decision to leave a bequest in our Wills.” Tanya Murray-Russell

How has your family responded?

Tanya: We’ve spoken to several members of the family and they’re excited and proud of what we’ve proposed. We intend to involve family at bequest functions so they’re taking the journey with us. When we pass away, we hope their association with UON continues as they become involved with students who benefit from our scholarship.

If you wish to have a confidential discussion regarding a gift in your Will, please contact Maria Pavela, Development Manager for Bequests on +61 2 4985 4163 or email

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