Eighteen leaders from Australia and New Zealand with a background in Indigenous social change have been selected for the 2021 Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity (AFSE) program

Eighteen leaders from Australia and New Zealand with a background in Indigenous social change have been selected for the 2021 Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity (AFSE) program, hosted by the University of Melbourne.

The majority of the cohort – 12 from Australia and six from New Zealand – are Indigenous. Fellows include practitioners in the environment, community, banking, journalism, a deputy school principal, consultants, executives, a dancer and government policy analysts.

One of seven Atlantic Fellows hubs around the world, the University of Melbourne hub focuses on Indigenous social equity. The other hubs in the USA, Asia, Africa and the UK focus on racial, health, brain health and economic equity.

The program features an intensive year of study and social change projects, followed by lifelong membership to a global community. For 2021, a new postgraduate qualification has been introduced as part of the fellowship: the Master of Social Change Leadership (MC-SCL).

Elizabeth McKinley, Executive Director of AFSE and Professor of Indigenous Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, said the 2021 cohort was comprised of exceptional individuals who showed significant potential as social change leaders in the Indigenous space.

“This year, an open application process for the AFSE Program resulted in 250 high quality applications, from which we have selected a cohort of 18 leaders working in diverse fields,” Professor McKinley said.

“The AFSE Program offers a unique platform. It amplifies the skills and experience of fellows during the foundation year and gives a global platform to collaborate with fellows around the world.

“In our first two cohorts, our senior fellows have been elected as official assembly representatives, become CEOs of organisations, created successful businesses, created impact in regenerative economies and started a global environmental foundation. The opportunities in this program, to obtain a qualification and convene with fellows around the world, is unique and we expect interest will continue to grow for fellowship.”

Professor Shaun Ewen, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Indigenous), said the Atlantic Fellows program was important to the University of Melbourne.

“The program challenges us to think about our purpose as a University, and our contribution to the societies we serve. The program enriches us, bringing ways of thinking and doing which have historically been overlooked or marginalised.”

This is the third cohort since the program started. The program ran in 2018 and 2019 but did not operate in 2020. The 2021 cohort join 31 AFSE alumni and a community of 500 global senior Atlantic Fellows, which will grow to a global, connected and resourced community of more than 2500 fellows by 2036.

The Atlantic Fellows for Social Equity is one of the seven global and interconnected Atlantic Fellows programs to which the foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, has committed more than $US660 million worldwide.

Established by American/Irish businessman Chuck Feeney, the co-founder of the Duty Free Shoppers Group, Atlantic Philanthropies has given away $US8 billion over the course of Mr Feeney’s lifetime, largely anonymously.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous people who work in Indigenous social equity are able to apply for an AFSE fellowship.

Information on the 2021 cohort of AFSE Fellows can be found at socialequity.atlanticfellows.org/our-fellows.