News & Analysis

Westpac launches Social Change Fellowship program to invest in people rather than projects

- July 11, 2016 3 MIN READ
Social Change Fellowship

Westpac has today opened applications for its annual Social Change Fellowship program, which this year is looking to invest in people rather than projects. The program has been designed to improve the wellbeing of Australians and inspire positive social change.

Westpac’s Bicentennial Foundation will commit up to $50,000 to ten social innovators who have the right drive to generate a ripple effect of social change, with Foundation CEO Susan Bannigan explaining the fellowship will invest in the personal development of social innovators, rather than their projects.

“Through the Social Change Fellowship, we are looking to create positive social change in Australia by investing in people from all walks of life to achieve their vision for social change,” she said.

“What makes this fellowship program unique is that we are investing in the individuals, rather than funding their projects, to give them the opportunity to explore their own potential, gain greater insights and create broader networks.”

The Social Change Fellowship will enable successful applicants to tailor a personalised plan of social change for six months. This plan will include experiences that will directly improve their skills, capabilities and networks. These experiences may involve travel for study tours, conferences, work experience, network building initiatives or research.

In addition to $50,000 of funding, social innovators will receive a lifelong membership to the Westpac100 Scholar’s Network. Through their membership innovators will be supported to connect, collaborate and continue on their development opportunities.

To apply, innovators need to be already working on an initiative to improve the wellbeing of Australians at a local, state or national level. These initiatives must also have the support of the community that it seeks to benefit.

Ambassador of the Social Change Fellowship, Merv Stewart said the program was created to give innovators lifelong access to a network of like-minded people. Networks of people who are passionate about fostering change have a chance to come together and develop their initiatives.

“Driving social change can be a difficult path to tread, often pushing against the accepted norms. Having the freedom to invest in your own potential and gain the best in class knowledge from experts around the globe is a great advantage for the next wave of change makers in Australia.”

Westpac has also today announced the five finalists who have been accepted into its healthtech Innovation Challenge. The finalists will pitch to a panel of leading business representatives for their chance to win $40,000. Along with funding entreprenuers will receive further assistance from Westpac and BlueChilli.

Westpac received more than 250 applicants from startups and entrepreneurs across Australia in just three weeks of being open.

Westpac’s Head of Healthcare, Leon Berkovich said, “The quality and number of entrants has been fantastic. With ideas ranging from mobile health management applications to hospital and practice communication tools, data management solutions and modern diagnostics capabilities.

“It’s fair to say there’s no shortage of innovative ideas on how to leverage technology to further improve the healthcare industry.”

The successful startups include:

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OnCallogist – Clinical task management mobile app that empowers clinicians with real-time information to improve patient care.

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Surgical Partners – Financial management platform for medical practices and their doctors that integrates practice management systems with accounting systems.

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Cyph MD – Communication platform for secure data-sharing between stakeholders in the healthcare industry. Leverages blockchain technology to streamline communication and data sharing across the healthcare network.

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AipolyAssistive technology that allows smartphones to recognise objects in real-time. The app responds to the needs of the visually impaired.

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SkinView – Converts a smartphone into a device that allows people to obtain an automated diagnosis of skin cancer. The app gives users the option to send information into the cloud for dermatologist confirmation.

Image: Susan Bannigan. Source: Australian National University.