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A legacy paying forward in meaningful ways

23 June 2022
Scholarship funds used to support social justice research participants.
A scholarship donated in memory of pioneering social worker and academic Katharine Ogilvie MBE is being used to fund vital research by 2021 PhD candidate Natalie Morton.
Natalie Morton, scholarship recipient

Natalie Morton

It was Natalie Morton’s PhD supervisor who told her about the 2021 Katharine Ogilvie Scholarship and encouraged her to apply.  Natalie was “surprised and delighted” when she was successful. She says she’d “never really received anything like this prior to commencing my PhD studies- so it was an incredible thing to me.”

Natalie’s research centres on the experiences of parents who face the permanent removal of their children and “aims to uncover experiences and needs of parents post final orders and what can be learnt from parents about ways of responding, timing and types of supports.”

It is vital to address structural inequalities by providing the right assistance at the right time to families and help reduce successive removals and the subsequent trauma to children and parents.
Natalie Morton, scholarship recipient

Her research no doubt draws on her 30+ years of experience working in the psychological health and wellbeing sector, which has included roles with Cerebral Palsy Alliance, Dalwood Child and Family Centre and as a Senior Lecturer in Professional Practice at Australian Catholic University.

Honouring a pioneer social worker

Katherine Ogilvie, pioneer social work academic

Katherine Ogilvie

The Katharine Ogilvie Award, now valued at $10,000, was established in 1988 from donations received from a group of retired social workers to honour Katharine Ogilvie MBE and support postgraduate research in Social Work.

Katharine Ogilvie graduated from The University of Sydney in 1924 with an Honours degree in History. She was a pioneer in the field of social work and was pivotal in its formation as a profession in Australia.  

Over her long and impressive career, Ogilvie worked with many organisations across the field of social work including the Australian Association of Hospital Almoners, the Australian Red Cross Society (where she helped to provide trained social workers in military hospitals during the war), the Child Welfare Advisory Council, the Old People’s Welfare Council of NSW (which she helped establish), NSW State Cancer Council, the Association of Sheltered Workshops and the National Heart Foundation of Australia. She was appointed MBE in 1937, partly for her contribution to the NSW Housing Improvement Board.

Her connection to the University extended well beyond her student years. She was president of the Sydney University Women’s Sports Association from 1927 to 1930; served on the Women’s College council (1934–49, 1956–68) and on the University Senate (1943–49). Ogilvie was a lecturer in medical social work at The University of Sydney from 1954 to 1965. During that time her wisdom, tenacity and humanity had a huge impact on students.

The values underpinning social work

Natalie Morton says she’s incredibly grateful for the opportunity offered by the scholarship and humbled that it was directed to her.

“It helped immensely with taking the pressure off regarding financial concerns, but in addition, my research has high costs in relation to transcription costs and reimbursement towards participants.”

Many of my participants face poverty, homelessness, and social isolation and this award assisted me to stay true to my commitment to reimburse my participants in a financially meaningful way.
Natalie Morton

“I really hope that I have reflected the underpinning values in social work in the way that I have used the funds.”

Along with a very supportive community, Natalie says the best thing about studying at the university is that she has “hands down have the best supervisors!” With their support, and with the help of the scholarship funds, Natalie is now concentrating on bringing all of her research together and submitting her thesis.