Six Kiwis announced for 2021 Atlantic Fellowship for Social Equity programme

The Atlantic Fellowship for Social Equity (AFSE) programme has announced its 2021 cohort of 18 social change leaders, with six of these from Aotearoa New Zealand.

Associate Professor Melinda Webber leads the Aotearoa New Zealand part of the AFSE programme with Associate Professor Te Kawehau Hoskins at the Faculty of Education and Social Work.

Hosted at the University of Melbourne, and run in partnership with the University of Auckland, the AFSE programme aims to drive greater equity and empowerment for Indigenous communities, locally and globally.

Its ultimate goal is to create a fairer society that is genuinely inclusive of all. It is one of seven global and interconnected Atlantic Fellows programs to which the foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies, has committed more than $US660 million worldwide.

The University of Auckland part of the programme is led in the Faculty of Education and Social Work by Associate Professors Te Kawehau Hoskins and Melinda Webber and delivered through Te Puna Wānanga.

Dr Webber says the key point of difference with AFSE is that it’s the only one of the programmes specifically about Indigenous-led social change. Where Indigenous knowledge, ways of being and doing are critical to the delivery, design and outcomes of the programme and aim to enact positive transformational change inside the Fellows’ own communities. 

“We’ve had some really exciting social change projects – looking at youth development, health, leadership inside tertiary organisations, and regional development,” says Dr Webber.

“But we’ve also had applications from people working with the health of their local rivers and people interested in architecture who want to think about how we might Indigenise our urban spaces.

“Another point of difference, is that people are expected to bring their Aboriginal and Torres Strait selves, their Māori selves, their Pacific selves to the programme. We walk around with our communities on our shoulders and this programme expects that of you, and expects to honour that.”

The six Aotearoa NZ Fellows come from diverse backgrounds: Māori health services, relationship management and service design, Māori entrepreneurship, teaching, conservation biology and advocacy, and youth support services.

The programme features an intensive year of study and social change projects, followed by lifelong membership to a global community of over 500 Senior Fellows. For 2021, a new postgraduate qualification has been introduced as part of the fellowship: the Master of Social Change Leadership (MC-SCL).

People are expected to bring their Aboriginal and Torres Strait selves, their Māori selves, their Pacific selves to the programme. We walk around with our communities on our shoulders and this programme expects that of you, and expects to honour that.

Associate Professor Melinda Webber Faculty of Education and Social Work

Elizabeth McKinley, Executive Director of AFSE and Professor of Indigenous Education at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, says the 2021 cohort has some exceptional individuals who show significant potential as social change leaders.

“This was the first year the AFSE Programme ran an open application process and public campaign to recruit new Fellows and we were surprised and excited by the level of interest, with close to 250 qualified applicants registering,” says Professor McKinley.

“We are really pleased to have recruited such a strong and diverse cohort of Fellows who we hope to nurture into the social change leaders of tomorrow. We are confident that, together with our Senior Fellows cohort, they will deliver social change for Indigenous communities across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.

“In our first two cohorts, our senior fellows have been elected as official assembly representatives, become CEOs of organisations, created successful businesses, created impact in regenerative economies and started a global environmental foundation. The opportunities in this programme, to obtain a qualification and convene with fellows around the world, is unique and we expect interest will continue to grow for the fellowship.”

New Zealanders announced for 2021 cohort of the AFSE programme:

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