Sandra and Peter Cadwallader

Indigenous economics scholarships a first

8 June 2018
First Nations students to be assisted with scholarships to study economics
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander economics students at the University of Sydney will be supported with scholarships for the first time.

The Sandra Cadwallader Indigenous Economics Scholarships will cover the total costs of a student each year of the three-year degree, including the option of an extra honours year. This is estimated at up to $50,000 and the scholarship will assist course fees, accommodation, living and other expenses.

“Our vision is for students to be able to come out of their degree with zero debt, unencumbered and ready to pursue the economics career of their dreams,” said Sandra Cadwallader.

“There is very low visibility of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in economics or the finance industry so it would be wonderful to be part of changing that landscape.”

A focus on education

While both Peter and Sandra are enthusiastic advocates of the scholarship it carries Sandra’s name to acknowledge her particular interest in providing educational opportunities. She has been a supporter for Indigenous educational philanthropy through her former high school. 

Our vision is for students to be able to come out of their degree with zero debt... ready to pursue the economics career of their dreams
Sandra Cadwallader

The Cadwallader family has an ongoing association with the University of Sydney. Peter was the first to study economics (BEc ’64) followed by daughters, Emily (BEc ’94) and Cathryn (BEc ’95).

“It’s wonderful that the Cadwalladers have made this generous contribution that will encourage a new generation of economics students to realise their ambitions,” said Professor Colm Harmon, Head of the School of Economics


Both Sandra and Peter have a history of philanthropic engagement aimed at inspiring independence and creating new social opportunities.

Sandra Cadwallader

Peter has previous board experience with Opportunity International Australia, a microfinancing organisation that provides small loans to families in countries such as China, India, Indonesia, Ghana and the Philippines. 

Peter explains that Sandra, when she realised that nothing comparable existed in Australia, “in her inimitable style decided - well then we have to do it”.

From that impulse Many Rivers was born, a not-for-profit microfinancing and microenterprise development organisation that supports aspiring business owners. It operates in 38 regions across Australia including working with Indigenous communities in remote locations in Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

“Helping people to help themselves is a familiar refrain but when applied can be profoundly life-changing for everyone involved,” is how the Cadwalladers explain their motivation.

Earlier this year Peter and Sandra were delighted to meet with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander high school students taking part in the University of Sydney’s Wingara Mura-Bunga Barrabugu Summer Program. The week-long academic residential program is designed to help students understand how their study choices can influence their future including the possibilities offered by higher education. 

The Sandra Cadwallader Indigenous Scholarship is offered to high school students, who can secure, or currently have, an unconditional offer of admission, or to currently enrolled Bachelor of Economics students. Applications close 17 February.

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