SWAN Bursaries


 Wordcloud Bursary


SWAN has provided bursaries to help disadvantage women over many years.  The history of this is recorded in "When Women Meet" which details the first 26 years of SWAN's history.

Currently the bursary is given to a woman whose study and career plans focus on human rights/ social justice issues at the local, national or international level.  A first nation recipient is preferred, but this is not a requirement in case there is no suitable first nation applicant.

Scholarships are awarded by Graduate Women Victoria (GWV) who aim to empower women through education and advocacy locally, nationally, and internationally. See the Graduate Women Victoria website for more information about this scholarship and how to donate on-line. To donate, follow this link and search for Graduate Women Victoria Donors Fund.

Donations can also be made directly to SWAN online, (please send an email to advise the purpose). They can also be made via the donation box at each meeting or by cheque to P.O. Box 72 BITTERN 3918 (Please indicate the purpose).

Many thanks for your continued action for social justice, and what better way than support for education of women.

Bursary to support study and career plans in human rights/social justice at local, national or international level 2019 -

2022 Nicole Holding ($3,500) - Honours thesis in prenatal care in the rural United States (1910-29) finding that maternal and infant mortality rates in the US at that time were the highest in the industrial world and that they continue to be among the worst. Her Masters thesis focuses on the faith-based practices of African American midwives and Black women in the same time period.

Throughout life I have been an avid scholar, particularly in women’s studies, whether that be in the field of science or history. Initially, I started my career as a Registered Nurse, working primarily in the operating theatre and midwifery, then moving on to breast cancer research. It was when I developed cancer myself, leaving me with mobility issues, that I needed to change careers. I went back to Monash University and focused on a history major. In 2020, I completed my honours thesis in prenatal care in the rural United States 1910-1929, in which I was lucky enough to have access to a trove of letters written by poor, rural women to the US government demanding better access to prenatal care. The maternal and infant mortality rates in the US at that time were the highest in the industrial world and continue to this day to be among the worst. Currently, my Master’s thesis expands on this topic by focusing on the faith-based practices of African American midwives and Black women in the same time period.

Despite my work focusing on the US my research and analysis is important for women of all societies, especially those living in rural areas and from minority groups. Research indicates that the monopolisation of childbirth by medical practitioners, a lack of midwifery-based care, and the undermining of women’s faith in childbirth practices leads to greater birth trauma and higher death rates among mothers and babies, particularly in areas that have limited access to maternal care. I hope to continue with a PhD on birth control and abortion among African American women in the early twentieth century US. A pertinent topic considering the antiabortion laws now dominating the US.

I would like to thank GWV and SWAN for this bursary.

 Update from Nicole in 2023

I received the SWAN bursary in 2022. I just wanted to let you know that I finished my MA and received 90% from Examiner A and 85% from Examiner B with an overall mark of 88%. I am currently applying for my PhD at Monash in history.

Many thanks and thanks to SWAN

Nicole Holding

2021 Hannah Petocz ($3,500) - Masters degree at La Trobe University exploring the long-term impact of abusive intimate partner relationships and the social structures perpetuating it within Australia.

I experienced an abusive intimate partner relationship for the first three years of my 20s, which has significantly shaped my life. Due to this abuse, I developed a severe anxiety disorder, involving frequent panic attacks, and lost all sense of trust in both myself and others. I started university after the relationship ended and fell in love with social science. However, the process of my education has been slow; interrupted with several breaks in order to tend to my mental health. Despite these significant challenges, I maintained a high grade-point average and achieved first class honours.
My experience with intimate partner violence allowed me to cultivate a passion for gender equality and women’s rights, for which I am extremely grateful.

My current Masters by Research Thesis explores the social structures perpetuating dating violence within Australia, and the impact dating violence has on young Australian women. I have conducted empirical research involving both qualitative and quantitative analyses of online survey responses from 79 young Australian women (18-26). I use a feminist theoretical perspective to argue the patriarchal structure of Australian society encourages dating violence to perpetuate uninterrupted through patterns of silencing, normalising, and excusing of abuse against young women. My study also argues the impact of dating violence on young women’s lives is extremely influential and long-lasting, with education, employment, personal identity, and future relationships being key areas negatively affected. This research project has a great deal to offer by providing a detailed and comprehensive understanding of dating violence, informed by the direct experiences of young Australian women and by simultaneously being grounded in my own experience with abuse.

Following the successful completion of my Masters degree, I plan to secure a PhD position exploring the topic of the ‘continuum’ of dating violence – as experienced both through technology and in-person, with a particular interest in the effect dating violence has on young women’s higher education. In addition to my Masters degree, I am also currently working on outreach opportunities to synthesise my research into bite-sized information accessible to young women through social media platforms; developing my Master’s thesis into a journal article; and building social support and a sense of community for Master’s and PhD students within my department in my role as a HDR representative.

I would like to extend my utmost gratitude to both Graduate Women Victoria and the Southern Women’s Action Network for the honour of this scholarship, and the support it has provided me in completing my studies and furthering my efforts to fight against gender inequality and violence against women and girls.


2020 Chloe Waddell ($3,500) - Post-graduate study at the Australian Catholic University in Educational and Developmental Psychology.


2019 Robyn Oxley ($3,500) - M.A. in Criminology at Monash University, with a focus on Pre and Post release support programs for Aboriginal offenders and self-determination within the present programs.

Robyn Oxley, a SWAN winner in 2019, has continued to be a prolific publisher, volunteered as an assessor for the scholarship program in 2020 and in the same year was appointed as a Lecturer in Criminology at the University of Western Sydney.

2021 news  Robyn has been appointed to a Lectureship in Social Sciences at the University of Western Sydney: “With a background in Aboriginal affairs within the criminal justice system and self-determination, Ms Oxley will lecture in social sciences, policing and criminology. As one of the few Indigenous criminologists in Australia, Ms Oxley hopes more Indigenous people will explore this career path.” 

Members may remember Robyn’s impressive speech to the 2019 AGM.   Despite our regret at her loss to Victoria, we congratulate her on this appointment and wish her every success in her future career.


Bursary to support a disadvantaged indigenous woman 2011-2014

2011 Olivia Slater - Mature age student studying Indigenous Studies at Victoria University. Olivia later became a Charlie Perkins Scholar (2016), graduated with a MPhil in Social Anthropology from Cambridge University, and went on to undertake a PhD in Education also at Cambridge.

2012 Sarah Stephens - Teacher of mathematics.

2013 Penelope Scott - Master of Employment and Labour Law at The University of Melbourne.

2014 Jennifer O’Sullivan ($2,500) - Masters degree student from Federation University


 Community participation encouragement bursary 2004-2007

This bursary, valued at $300, aimed to encourage young women aged between 16-26 years to take up training of their choice in the fields of public speaking, public presentation and media management. Between 2005 and 2007 six bursaries were awarded to school students and one to a young woman, aged 23.

2005 Bonnie Einsiedel (2005), put the funds towards an intensive French course after which she lived in France for five years, qualified as a translator and later became a live captioner of news bulletins for the Deaf community in Australia.

2006 Three bursaries were awarded. Chloe John completed a B.A. and a Law degree and was admitted to the Supreme Court of Victoria as a Juris Doctor. She worked with Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning in both the Aboriginal Partnerships and Engagement Team and the Self-Determination Reform Unit. Her career also involved her in the Manus Island Detention Centre Class Action and traumatic Court of Appeal decisions. She has volunteered with community legal centres, including the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, and provided policy assistance with the Secretariat of National Aboriginal and Islander Child Care. 

The other two recipients were Amelia Travers who used her award to support her participation in a European Space Camp in Norway and assisted Jacqui Holland to further her involvement in environmental and social justice issues by attending a ‘Strengths in Action’ workshop at Deakin Management Centre. In addition to these youth bursaries, SWAN donated $200 to local young woman Elise Klein, the Australian Youth representative to the United Nations General Assembly to assist with her travel expenses.

2007 The final bursary recipients were Ellie Brown and Stella Thurbon.