Doors open again for Churchill Fellowships

31 Jan 2022

Doors open again for Churchill Fellowships featured image
Pictured: Churchill Fellow Natalia Krysiak

Doors open again for international travel award

A non-academic program that offers everyday Australians inspiring opportunities to travel overseas and investigate a topic they are passionate about is calling for applications after pausing for the first time in its history because of COVID-19.

The Churchill Trust plans to select around 100 people from diverse walks of life to undertake projects in 2023. As Churchill Fellows, the recipients will receive an average of $28,000 each, and Trust support to explore international best practice and innovations in a field of their choosing.

A series of more than 15 virtual information sessions based around particular themes will be held during February and March to help inspire ideas and guide people through the application process. The sessions will feature existing Churchill Fellows sharing their experiences, as well as live Q&As to provide valuable advice.

“We are excited to once again being able to offer this life-changing experience for Australians,” said Trust CEO Adam Davey.

“Over the past two years we have found innovative ways to help many current Fellows progress their projects and stay connected despite the pandemic, but for the first time in our history we had to cancel the usual call for applications last year. People who apply now will not travel until 2023, and the Trust will work with them to navigate travel requirements.”

Importantly, no specific qualifications are required to apply for a Churchill Fellowship and Fellowships are not used to undertake formal academic study. Instead, recipients spend four to eight weeks visiting, observing and working alongside leaders in their sector.

The precise topic of focus is completely up to the applicant, who designs their own itinerary. However, applicants are expected to have worked through their topic or issue thoroughly in Australia, exhausting locally available knowledge. Importantly, they must also demonstrate potential benefits to their sector or community, and be willing to share the findings on their return.

“Fellows may travel for as little as a month but the experience can change the rest of their lives,” Mr Davey said.

“They return with valuable networks, greater confidence and the motivation to achieve what they never thought possible. As a result, the combined impact on Australian communities since the first Fellowships were awarded in 1965 has been extraordinary.”

Mr Davey encouraged anyone with a project idea to register for the virtual information sessions, even if they weren’t certain travel might be possible next year.

“We normally hold a series of events in capital cities and regional communities, but the switch to live virtual sessions means people can participate no matter where they live,” he said.

“It also means we have been able to build events around particular fields of interest such as agriculture, creative and performing arts, environmental management and climate change, manufacturing and small business, education and health, emergency services and public service.

“However, it is absolutely not essential that attendees have a topic in mind that aligns with the session.”

Around 110 Fellowships were awarded in 2020 with a combined value of more than $3 million. Despite the early impact of the pandemic, the number of applicants increased by ten per cent to more than 1100 and the Trust is hopeful of an equally strong response this year.

Aside from general Fellowships, specific national and state-based sponsored Fellowships are also offered in a range of fields, including the new Saskia Beer Churchill Fellowship to support innovation in food production or farming.

Applications can be made online from 1 February 2022, closing 28 April 2022.

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