Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions



1. What is a Westpac Social Change Fellowship?

The Westpac Social Change Fellowship supports the development of individuals who have the vision and commitment to shape a better future for Australians. Each year up to ten Fellowships, worth up to $50,000, are awarded to those candidates who are leading an initiative that tackles one of the Australia’s social issues. The Fellowship is unique in that it invests in the professional development of an individual. The award is designed to give recipients the time and space to develop the skills, knowledge and networks to accelerate their growth as a social innovator. This may involve engaging with global thought leaders and industry experts, training, mentoring and building stronger connections that will directly enhance your ability to lead social change.

2. How many Fellowships will be awarded each year?

There will be up to 10 Fellowships awarded each year.

3. What is the value of each Fellowship and who receives the funds?

The Fellowship will provide an individual with up to $50,000 in funding. The value will vary depending on the applicant’s proposed Development Plan. The funds are provided directly to the Fellow for their Development Plan.

4. What is the duration of the Fellowship?

The duration will depend on the proposed Fellowship Development Plan. The Development Plan may be conducted on a part time or full-time basis. Overseas travel must not exceed 8 weeks in total (and may be completed in up to two trips).

5. Who can apply?

We are looking for people from all walks of life, who are committed to making a difference and are eager to build on their own capabilities so they can maximise their potential to bring their initiative to life. To be eligible to apply, applicants must be:

• An Australian Citizen or Permanent Resident;
• Over the age of 18; and
• Be leading an existing innovative initiative to address a clearly defined social need in an Australian community at a local, state or national level.

6. Do I have to be a Not-for-Profit?

No, the Social Change Fellowship is open to individuals across any sector leading a program that improves the wellbeing of Australians. The Fellowship is awarded to the individual not the organisation.

7. If your organisation was co-founded with another person is it still ok to apply as an individual?

Yes. And if both individuals wish to apply for the Social Change Fellowship then each will need to submit a separate application and progress through the selection process on the merits of their individual application – as this is an investment in the individual, not the organisation.

To note, one individual per organisation can receive a Westpac Social Change Fellowship in each application year if the organisation has less than fifty employees and we strongly encourage leaders from the same organisation to not apply in the same year where possible.

8. What kind of initiative do I need to be working on to qualify for a Fellowship?

Your initiative must be an innovative approach to address a clearly defined social need in an Australian community at a local, state or national level.

The following initiatives and uses of funds are specifically excluded from the Fellowship:

  • Initiatives for the benefit of communities outside of Australia;
  • Tertiary qualifications and/or course fees;
  • Initiatives that promote religion, animal welfare or change in law, government policy or practice are not eligible;
  • Medical research; and
  • Funding of the actual initiative, capital items, refurbishments, organisations, sponsorships, salaries or fundraising activities.
9. Do you provide funding for initiatives?

No. The Fellowship provides funding only to individuals for personal development and learning. The Fellowship funding cannot be used for program delivery.

If you are looking for funding for your initiative please explore other Foundation’s in the Westpac Group – Westpac Foundation, St George Foundation, BankSA Foundation and Bank of Melbourne Neighbourhood Fund.

10. Do I need to have started work on my initiative?

Yes, your initiative needs to be more than just an ‘idea’. You need to be able to demonstrate a clear understanding of the social problem you are trying to solve and that you have engaged and obtained the support of the community benefiting from your initiative. You should’ve already launched your initiative and have seen its impact in the community.

11. Can I use the funds to gain overseas work experience?

Yes, if the overseas experience will directly support the development of capabilities required to deliver your initiative in Australia. You can find out more in our Funding Guidelines.

12. Can I submit more than one application in a year?

An applicant may only submit one application per year.

13. If successful, can I defer the Fellowship?

No. Successful recipients will be notified in February 2022 and Westpac Scholars Trust will work with finalists to finalise their Development Plan.

14. Can I apply in the future if I am unsuccessful?

As long as you meet the eligibility criteria you can apply for a Westpac Social Change Fellowship in future years, but we do encourage you to seek feedback before reapplying. Also consider if you are applying for the Fellowship at an opportune time in your development and the growth of your social change initiative.

15. Do I, or the people who benefit from my initiative, need to be a Westpac customer?

No, provided you meet the eligibility criteria, we welcome applications from people from all walks of life working on initiatives that benefit Australian communities.

16. Do I need academic qualifications to apply for a Fellowship?

No, the Westpac Social Change Fellowship is not associated with academic pursuit.

17. My initiative supports communities overseas. Am I eligible to apply for a Westpac Social Change Fellowship?

No, your initiative needs to strengthen communities and help people in need in Australia

18. Can I use the Fellowship to cover (or partially cover) the course costs at a University or educational institution?

No. Funding will not be provided for tertiary qualifications or tertiary courses.

19. How do I complete my proposed Fellowship Plan and budget?

The Westpac Social Change Fellowship provides funding to support educational experiences that directly invest in your skills, capabilities and networks. Your Fellowship experience may involve travel, study tours, work experience, research, short courses or building stronger connections (including meetings, networking and stakeholder engagement).

The value of your proposed Fellowship experience may range from $20,000 - $50,000. You will be requested to submit initial Fellowship Plan ideas with your written application – please spend time thinking through what your key development objectives are and how the proposed activities address these.

We will collaborate with individuals who are shortlisted for the Fellowship on a detailed budget – a budget is not required in the initial application. Although when proposing courses or activities in your application please keep in mind the maximum funding allocation amount.

Applicants who reach the National Panel stage will also receive coaching from a previous Fellow to help guide the development of their Fellowship Plan. If your application is successful, the Westpac Scholars Trust will work with you to prepare a detailed costing of your itinerary prior to your Fellowship Agreement being finalised.

20. Are there any countries that cannot be included in a Fellowship Development Plan?

Travel to countries with a Level 3 (Reconsider your need to travel) or Level 4 (Do not travel) rating by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are not to be included in a Development Plan. Countries Alert Levels are listed on the website:

21. Will Westpac Scholars Trust provide Fellows with taxation advice?

Fellows are responsible and encouraged to seek taxation advice regarding their individual circumstances. Westpac Scholars Trust makes no representation or warranty in relation to the taxation implications of any funds provided by the Foundation to a Fellow.

22. Will Westpac Scholars Trust provide Fellows with travel insurance?

Westpac Scholars Trust will cover Travel Insurance for the duration of the Fellowship.

23. Will the Westpac Social Change Fellowship cover travel for my spouse, partner or dependent(s)?

No. Fellowship funding will only cover costs for the Fellow.

24. Is there a Salary Allowance whilst on the Fellowship?

In the event that you expect to lose at least 50% of your total household gross family income while you are away you may be eligible for a Salary Allowance. This amount will be payable to you directly and included in the total value of your Fellowship. Please review our Salary Allowance Policy. The Salary Allowance is generally provided for the portion of the Fellowship you are travelling internationally.

25. Can the funds be allocated to personal expenses occurred as a result of attending a course e.g. childcare?

Yes, funds can be used to cover some personal expenses such as childcare if you are travelling or attending a course as part of your Fellowship. We can discuss this on a case by case basis with successful finalists..

26. When can I apply and when do applications close?

Applications open on 18th August 2021 and close on 30th September 2021 at 5:00PM AEST.

27. How do I apply?

All applications must be submitted through Westpac Scholars Trust online application system to be considered valid. This online system is accessed via the Westpac Social Change Fellowship webpage.

Before submitting your application please ensure you have checked your answers and supporting documents as applications cannot be re-submitted or amended after submission.

28. What supporting information is required?

Applications received without the below supporting information, will not be considered by the Westpac Scholars Trust.

  • Your current Curriculum Vitae so that we understand your capabilities, experience and achievements (up to 3 pages as a PDF)
  • A picture of yourself (headshot) in JPEG or PNG format no larger than 2MB
  • Contact details for a Community Referee who is familiar with your work in the community you are looking to impact and who can comment your suitability for this Fellowship.
  • Contact details for an Expert Referee who is familiar with your social change initiative and who can comment on the importance and relevance of your work in this field.
29. What is required to be a strong applicant?

You must be able demonstrate:

  • Why your initiative is an innovative approach to the social issue you are seeking to address;
  • The support of the community that will directly benefit from your idea;
  • That you have the commitment to deliver the initiative;
  • How your Development Plan, funded by the Fellowship, will build your capability to deliver your initiative.
30. What makes a good application?

A good application takes time to develop. Please be aware many of the sections have specified word limits. A number of questions also contain guidance to assist you in formulating your response.

31. What could be some common reasons for unsuccessful applications?
  • The application does not fall within our eligibility criteria.
  • The applicant did not effectively demonstrate their ability to lead social change.
  • It is not clear as to the social need you are seeking to address.
  • It is unclear how your initiative will address the social need.
  • There is a lack of evidence of community support for your initiative.
  • The request is to fund a project, organisation, sponsorship, capital works or major equipment.
  • The application form is incomplete or has been completed incorrectly.
  • You have not been able to articulate why now is the right time for you to undertake a Fellowship to enhance your development to be a social change leader.
32. How do I know if the Westpac Scholars Trust has received my application?

Once you have submitted your online application, you will receive an acknowledgement email confirming that your application has been received – please check that our emails are not going to spam.

33. When will applicants find out if they are successful?

Applicants will be notified as they progress through the selection process:

  • Applicants who reach the Regional Panel stage will be notified late October and will be invited to complete a video interview. All other applicants will be notified at this point also.
  • Applicants who progress to the National Panel will be notified in early December. The 16 finalists who reach the National Panel will be invited to Sydney for a face-to-face interview on Thursday 24th February 2022 – Westpac Scholars Trust will cover domestic travel costs associated with the National Panel.
  • Finalists will be notified following the National Panel after approval of the Westpac Scholars Trust Board.
34. I missed the application window, can I still apply?

No, late applications will not be accepted, please consider applying in future years.

35. Can I get feedback on my application if I am unsuccessful?

Unfortunately Westpac Scholars Trust is unable to provide individual feedback due to the volume of applications we receive – top level themes will be provided as to why applications did not progress.

Applicants who reach the Regional and National Selection Panel stage will receive personalised feedback.

36. If unsuccessful in this round, can I apply in the future?

Yes, you can apply for the Social Change Fellowship in the future. We recommend you seek feedback on your application before reapplying.