As a child from a non-English speaking background, having overcome family violence and sexual discrimination, Stella has gone on to achieve great success in her 25-year career as a mental health practitioner. She now provides expert advice to SA Health on mental health policy and planning.
As an advocate for people living with mental ill-health and disability, Stella has dedicated her personal and professional life to educating, supporting and campaigning for vulnerable populations. Her incredible work in this area saw her receive the 2023 South Australian Citizen of the Year Award.
“My goal has always been to create environments that set children and adults up for success,” she says.
Stella clearly recalls the intense challenges of sustaining full-time tertiary studies while under financial hardship and understands what a huge difference a little assistance can make to the lives of students.
“We hope the scholarship will enable students to successfully complete their course by reducing one source of stress that can be very draining and challenging for a person struggling to get by.
“Longer term we hope that it can be a contributing factor that enables them to realise their dreams and achieve their full potential,” says Stella.
Stella and Peter are especially concerned that women experience inequality in many areas of their lives and as a result don’t achieve their full potential.
“At work, many women face a gender pay gap and barriers to leadership roles, and often encounter sexual discrimination in male-dominated STEM industries,” says Stella.
While women comprise 47 per cent of employees in Australia, on average they take home $251.20 less than men each week (based on full-time adult ordinary earnings). This is a national gender pay gap of 15.3 per cent, which has not improved over the past two decades.
Peter laments an absence of female voices throughout his global career in IT consultancy – which saw him deploy new systems to companies that would have otherwise failed as a result of the Y2K bug in 2000. He has since held key roles in the development and deployment of emerging technologies that enable organisations to realise their strategic objectives.
“I’ve been very fortunate to work with some exceptional women at different times in my career and note that their more collaborative workstyle provides significant value,” says Peter.
“Without their valuable contribution society is much poorer.”
Stella and Peter’s personal experience and focus for the scholarship mean the inaugural recipient of the Stella and Peter Braund STEM Scholarship, Corrin Paepke, will now be supported to overcome financial obstacles throughout her studies at Flinders University.
Twenty-two-year-old Corrin is a Pitjantjatjara woman living on Kaurna land.
Passionate about both science and social justice, Corrin wants to help those in the criminal justice system and is studying a combined degree of Forensic and Analytical Science with Criminology.
Growing up on Karta Pintingka/Kangaroo Island, Corrin not only faced relocation costs to study in Adelaide, but ongoing living and study costs that require her to work part time.
“The funds have helped to cover my rent, parking and food, plus textbooks and a laptop for uni,” says Corrin.
“I feel very grateful to receive this opportunity. Because of Stella and Peter, I can move forward with my dream of making a difference for other Indigenous Australians – in the prison system or other disadvantaged setting.”
Acknowledging the long term benefits of supporting education, Stella says, “When students find themselves in challenging situations not of their own making and are provided with even the smallest amount of support, they grab it with both hands and make the absolute most of it to improve their situation, as well as their community.”
Change a student’s life by creating a named scholarship at Flinders University. Contact Mark Goldsmith on 0401 123 866 or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org.