The University of Newcastle, Australia

Professor Alex Zelinsky AO takes on 100km trek to tackle inequity in Indigenous health and education

Monday, 8 July 2019

I am always up for trying something new and ready for a challenge. So, when I was offered the opportunity to take on a challenge that will support equity and change lives, I knew I had to do it!

Professor Alex Zelinsky AO

I have decided to join a team of determined individuals to trek 100km of the arid South Australian outback to raise money to support Indigenous education and health research. I believe we are all responsible for tackling inequality in every way we can.

This challenge will provide several practical outcomes. It will nurture our future Indigenous Australian leaders through scholarships for Indigenous students and researchers. It will also fund research projects to deliver real solutions for Indigenous health issues. Scientific research is much more in my comfort zone than endurance sport. I’m a ‘checker’ not a ‘trekker’ if you will! I am aware that I am taking on quite an endeavour here. I have been warned about blisters, but I think I will be feeling every one of those kilometres through my whole body! It would be great if you could sponsor me for this challenge and join me in supporting Indigenous students and health research. Perhaps you can sponsor me $1 per kilometre, or perhaps $2… or even $10! Our team of trekkers hope to raise over $100,000 for Indigenous equity. Every dollar will make a difference with 100% of your donation supporting Indigenous students and Indigenous health research.

Thank you to everyone involved in making this challenge happen and supporting the change it will bring. We have an amazing community of incredibly generous donors at the University of Newcastle; students, alumni, staff, partners and community members. I am excited about the future and what we can achieve together.

Below are examples of the significant impact we can make together, featured are two students who received a scholarship from our last fundraising challenge. If you can, please make a tax-deductible donation here.


Melissa-Sue Ah-See

Melissa-Sue has always dreamed of completing her honours in Business. Being awarded a Larapinta Trail Challenge Indigenous Shaping Futures Scholarship means this proud Wiradjuri woman may fulfill her dreams and secure a better future for her son. Melissa-Sue has completed a Bachelor of Business and Bachelor of Commerce and is now investigating the impact of social media on feminism with the possibility of pursuing a PhD after her Honours.

2018 Indigenous student graduates I’ve always believed that you don’t have to ‘come from money’ to be successful, however, as a single mother, living away from my home community of Wellington, NSW, it has been incredibly tough to support myself and my son. It wasn’t until after I received the scholarship that I realised I wouldn’t have made it through the rest of the semester without it. I’m now able to work consistently on my university studies and achieve high results. Thank you for supporting my ambition, allowing me to follow dreams and break the cycle of poverty many Aboriginal people find themselves in." - Melissa-Sue Ah-See.

Demi J Cheetham

Demi J Cheetham – University of Newcastle Medical Student and Larapinta Trail Challenge Indigenous Shaping Futures Scholarship recipient I  have always valued the importance of health and education. Growing up in a small Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander community, I witnessed the health and social inequities experienced by our Indigenous people, even experiencing the effects of such in my own family environment. Improving the health and well-being of others is my motivation to succeed. Neither of my parents had an opportunity to finish high school or attend university, however my parents lovingly provided an environment of learning and instilled the importance of hard work and dedication in me. I aim to represent the scholarship and its donors with pride during my years in medical school and into the future."  - Demi J Cheetham


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