First 500: Maddy went from a team of one to 48 in three short years

This month Westpac Scholars Trust celebrates its first 500 Westpac Scholars, looking at the journeys and achievements of these individuals and how their Westpac Scholarships have helped them along the way. We caught up with a few, including the wonderful Maddy Buchner, founder of Little Dreamers Australia.

1. Tell us about your journey since receiving your Westpac Social Change Fellowship, what are you most proud of?

When I received the Fellowship in 2018 I was a team of one, having just quit my secure job to jump into running my organisation full time. I was terrified and so completely out of my depth. We were running four programs, supporting hundreds of kids per year and while I loved that Little Dreamers was now everything I was doing, rather than just a side project, I was floundering. The Fellowship connected me with the most inspirational people who I am now lucky enough to call my friends. Since then, my team has grown to 48 staff and 175 volunteers spread across four states. We deliver eight core support programs, across five targeted impact areas and we impact the lives of over 5,000 Young Carers each year. 

There is still so much that we want to achieve, but often I have to remind myself to stop and look at how far we have come in such a short time. The Little Dreamers culture is one of a giant, extended family, and many of our Young Carers have come into our programs when they were very young and have grown up right before our eyes. Out of everything we do, and everything we will continue to do, I am the proudest of our Young Carers, and how far they have come on their journey. It is an absolute privilege and honour that we get to play a small role in their story. 

2. What impact has the Fellowship had on your success?

Without a doubt, I would not be where I am today without the Fellowship or the W100 network. The Fellowship not only provided me with the personal and professional development opportunities that I needed to get to where I am today but it also helped me to find a group of like-minded humans who are always at the end of the phone with advice, motivation and unlimited amounts of support. 

To learn more about our first 500 Westpac Scholars follow @WestpacScholars on Instagram as we showcase W100 alumni throughout August.

Applications for 2022 scholarships are now open. To find out more visit the Westpac Scholars Trust website.