About the Helen & Geoff Handbury Fellowship Program.
The Helen & Geoff Handbury Fellowship Program is a community-research fellowship program that encourages and supports practical research by individuals or groups that contribute to lasting improvements, especially in the sustainability of vulnerable western Victoria communities. The Fellowship aims to develop socially-inclusive projects that lead to effective and responsive community-based approaches to questions of community sustainability and well-being.
The term “community” is not defined exclusively by geographic region, but also includes communities of interest, occupation, history, language and others. Sustainable development may include any one or a combination of economic, social, cultural, educational or environmental benefits. It is desirable that research supported by the Fellowship Program would have benefits to similar communities beyond western Victoria. The program also aims to contribute to regional policies, encourage improved local engagement in regional sustainability issues and share resulting knowledge locally and globally.
The Fellowship Program is supported by the Geoff & Helen Handbury Foundation Trust, RMIT University and government funding (when available).
The fellowships are underpinned by the following principles:
- That all people can shape and guide their lives according to the highest ideal of wellbeing
- That personal change and the ability to bring about social change is strengthened through building reciprocal relationships and diversity
- That all people can facilitate and encourage a shared responsibility for the world
- That projects adhere to the fundamental principles of methodological soundness and ethical review
- That partners of the project are involved in all stages of project development, implementation and evaluation (the degree of involvement may vary depending on community and university expertise/practice)
- That the impetus for the project emerges from the community and therefore, benefits flows back to the community
About Helen and Geoff Handbury
Geoff and the (late) Helen Handbury are well-loved community members in the Hamilton region. They are champions of innovative change and ideas that would make a difference to communities in their region and beyond, and well-known for their generous philanthropy. Both Helen and Geoff believed in the capacity of people working together for the betterment of not just the region, but also the world. Never merely a financial contributor, both Helen and Geoff’s capacity to be personally involved in the development and establishment of these centres and activities has given to Victoria and Australia one of the most successful and inspiring record of the power of philanthropy in recent times.
History of the program
In late 2001, the Handburys made a significant donation to RMIT University to support the development of a new community-university fellowship program. This program was conceptualized and developed by RMIT senior research fellow Dr Yaso Nadarajah to initiate, extend or strengthen ideas and practices in the region through community-led research activities. This also extended the partnership of the university with the region, established through RMIT Hamilton.
The program was then launched in 2002 at a civic reception in Hamilton, Victoria, in the presence of Helen and Geoff Handbury, the Shire Council, community members of the western Victoria region, RMIT University Council members, RMIT Vice-Chancellor and RMIT staff and students. A matching grant of $250,000 in 2006 was awarded by the Australian Government Department of Education, Science and Training (DEST) under the Collaboration and Structural Reform Fund (CASR). This funding has enabled this innovative program to be established as an ongoing community-university fellowship program. The CASR funding was an acknowledgement of the Handburys’ generous contribution to community as well as recognition of the innovativeness, capacity and success of the program. The work of the Fellowship Program is governed by the terms of its principles. This means it is maintained exclusively to encourage and support practical research by individuals or groups (and research partners) that contributes to lasting improvements, especially in the sustainability of vulnerable western Victoria communities.
This program will continue to grow with relevance, creativity and impact; and carry forward the ethos and legacy of Helen and Geoff Handbury’s foresight and generosity into the future. With a structure in place that supports a process and spirit of cooperation between research and community engagement; this program strives to make this region and the world a better place. – Advisory Group.