Lachlan Shire Council Aboriginal staff member Belinda Coe has been selected for a 2020 Councillor Pat Dixon Memorial Scholarship.
“On behalf of my fellow Councillors, I congratulate Belinda on being awarded the 2020 Cr Pat Dixon Memorial Scholarship and wish her all the best in her future studies,” Lachlan Shire Mayor John Medcalf OAM, stated.
Ms Coe said the award was established to support Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander councillors or members of council staff in NSW to undertake further study, professional development or research.
“I’m grateful to the Pat Dixon Scholarship Trustees and Local Government NSW for providing this opportunity and supporting me to complete my studies,” she explained.
“Knowing that I needed the support to complete my studies, it was an opportunity I couldn’t miss. There are a number of barriers when living in rural towns and wanting to complete further education. The majority of it is online and not face-to-face learning, if you don’t have access to the appropriate technology and equipment, you would face barriers trying to complete those studies.
“I believe the trustees of the Pat Dixon Scholarship understand those barriers and have kindly assisted me to complete my goals. I am studying a Diploma in Business to increase my knowledge base and build on my career within Local Government and am hoping eventually I will move into a leadership role.
“As an Aboriginal woman I am passionate about changing the perspectives of others, creating positive change and building cultural capacity within Council. Again I believe the Pat Dixon Trustees recognised and valued my passion and goals.”
Ms Coe said she intends to use the funds to purchase a desktop computer and printer/scanner which will allow her to create a working space at home to complete her studies online.
“I am appreciative of Council, which was supportive through the application process. I am pleased to say Lachlan Shire Council is committed to working with their Aboriginal community as it is important for Council to create a mutual understanding and commit to involving its Aboriginal community in decision-making and service development and delivery processes,” she articulated.
“I am enjoying working in partnership with Council to build positive relationships and productive partnerships with our local Aboriginal community. We are currently developing a number of cultural plans to adopt in the near future and have recently installed the first ever acknowledgment to country plaque this week.”
Ms Coe, a vocal advocate for Aboriginal people, said it is important that her people create positive change, to “build on our skills and knowledge base, set higher standards and goals, establish our own plans and directions for our future rather than following what was originally planned for us. There are support systems in place, mentors to help guide us, many opportunities developed to help us succeed and grow, they shouldn’t be overlooked.”
Kylie Yates, acting Chief Executive of Local Government NSW congratulated Ms Coe on her attainment on behalf of the Trustees.
“The Trustees were highly impressed with your application and are pleased to formally offer Ms Coe a scholarship of $2,500 to contribute towards the costs associated with purchasing a computer, desktop, printer and scanner to assist in your further studies,” she said.
“Local Government New South Wales received many applications this year and all were of a high quality.”
By Melissa Blewitt.