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Digging deep to provide financial support to Southern Cross students in uncertain times


Sharlene King
31 July 2020
Student Hardship Fund and Anglican Chaplaincy Trust
Rev Christian Ford (left), Mr Ben Roche, Rev Alan Shaw, Ms Dawn Back and Dr Ross Lehman outside St Andrews Anglican Church, Lismore.

The Southern Cross University family has generously heeded the call to support the wellbeing of students impacted by COVID-19, with more than $673,000 raised and distributed through a new hardship fund.

The Southern Cross University family has generously heeded the call to support the wellbeing of students impacted by COVID-19, with more than $673,000 raised and distributed through a new hardship fund.

The University opened the Student Hardship Fund in April with an initial allocation of $500,000. This was quickly exhausted, highlighting the dire financial circumstances many students faced. Yet a proportion of the student body continues to face hardship during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, despite the University’s early intervention.

Last month, the University launched an appeal to its alumni and broader University community. This call resulted in several donations from across the Southern Cross community, with the largest contribution being made by the Anglican Chaplaincy Trust. As a result of the wind up of the Trust, the Trustees resolved to contribute $50,103 to the Hardship Fund. Southern Cross alumni and staff contributed a further $36,484.

In response to the generosity, the University has pledged to match all donations dollar-for-dollar, which has resulted in a Fund with $173,174 (as at 23 July) for distribution to students facing hardship.

The Anglican Chaplaincy Trust has a long association with the University. Established in 1992 with donations from parishioners and the local community, the Trust initially funded a chaplaincy service for students to help with spiritual, social and emotional support at the then University of New England as Southern Cross was formerly known.

“In acknowledging the generosity of the Anglican Diocese, we also acknowledge and thank the foresight of the Trustees and parishioners, many of which are former staff and alumni of the University and its predecessor institution the Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education,” said Mr Ben Roche, Vice President (Engagement).

While the delivery of Anglican Chaplaincy Services ended in 1994, the Trust continued in existence up until recently. After discussions, the University and representatives of the Anglican Church agreed to wind up the Trust and redirect the funds to both the Student Hardship Fund and to the Anglican Church to fund youth outreach services. 

“The University is grateful to the original donors who contributed to the Trust and to the Anglican Church for their assistance in managing and winding up the Trust,” Mr Roche said.

“It speaks to the nature of the Anglican Parish that where there is desperate need, their community will help where it can. So on behalf of the University and our students who are facing hardship at this time, thank you.”

The Rev Christian Ford, Rector of the Lismore Anglicans, praised the generosity of all who supported the Anglican Chaplaincy Trust.

“Lismore Anglicans Parish Council was really proud of the efforts of our members and the community so long ago to establish the Chaplaincy Fund and raise the money,” Rev Ford said.

“To honour these efforts we intend to put the money we have received from the winding up of the trust towards employing a youth worker within our parish to minister to youth of the Lismore Region, including those who learn at Southern Cross University.”

Dr Ross Lehman is one of the original donors to the Anglican Chaplaincy Trust, and helped facilitate its wind-up. He taught student teachers at the Lismore Teachers’ College and later at the University’s School of Education. During the 1990s Dr Lehman also worked as International Student Adviser and was Head of Student Residences with responsibility for more than 250 male and female students living in four residential centres on the Lismore Campus.

“Both Southern Cross and the Church are confident that the redirected funds will provide benefit to students and youth in Lismore,” Dr Lehman said.

“It is indeed special to encourage providing for the individual differences of students by such love and care in action.”

Mr Roche acknowledged the generosity of the University’s staff and alumni in donating to the Fund.

“The health and wellbeing of our students will always remain the central focus of what we do,” Mr Roche said.

“The Hardship Fund will, in some small way, allow our students a small amount of financial relief so that they can maintain focus on their studies.”


Student Hardship Fund

Southern Cross University developed the Student Hardship Fund in response to the unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on a student’s ability to fund the fundamentals of rent, groceries, internet connection and sundries in order to continue their studies uninterrupted.

To make a tax-deductible donation to the Student Hardship Fund, visit the University's Giving page