Ballarat’s Tilly Schembri recently met with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to celebrate an educational boost.
Tilly and her family have been supported by educational charity, The Smith Family, since she was five, and the former Mount Clear College student was recently chosen to be one of the guest speakers at its Learning for Life program graduation ceremony.
Mr Turnbull and Education and Training Minister Simon Birmingham met with the graduates following a federal government $48 million investment in the program over four years.
Many of the graduates are the first in their family to complete year 12 or attend university.
In Victoria, 6500 students from disadvantaged communities will benefit from the Learning for Life program’s new funding, with 24,000 nationwide.
The Smith Family chief executive officer Dr Lisa O’Brien said the extra money would be life changing for thousands of students.
“This funding will enable The Smith Family to significant expand our educational support activities to reach an additional 24,000 children living in highly disadvantaged communities,” Dr O’Brien said.
Tilly said Mr Turnbull described the Learning for Life program as “a fantastic exercise in practical love”.
“It is love delivered in a very practical way, changing lives in so many areas,” Mr Turnbull said.
“And changing your lives; there is no better way to set a young person on the right course than by getting them the support they need to complete their studies at school and then get on to whatever they want.”
Mr Turnbull said his daughter Daisy was a school teacher and he was recently approached by a woman in an airport who told him Daisy had changed her daughter’s passion for education.
“There is no substitution for the transformation of a life that a great teacher is able to achieve.”
He also said he had been brought up by a single father who went to great lengths to provide him with a good education.
“But it changed my life. It made me able to do the things that I have been able to do and one of the things that I’ve recognised is how important teachers are.”
Mr Turnbull told the graduates they had “great adventures and great lives ahead of you and great prospects”.