Harding Miller News

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Cara Varian selected as finalist of NSW Premier’s Women of the Year

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, the Harding Miller Education Foundation would like to proudly celebrate the achievement of Cara Varian, our founding Managing Director and leader for 9 years, who has been selected as one of 5 finalists in the NSW Women of the Year Awards. Cara is now serving as the Executive Chairperson of the Harding Miller Education Foundation and has started her new position as CEO of NSW Council of Social Service.

Cara has led the Harding Miller Education Foundation with passion, integrity, innovation, and fierce intelligence. Her exceptional leadership and steadfast commitment to empowering women have left an enduring impact on numerous lives. As we celebrate International Women’s Day, honouring the achievements and contributions of Australian women, Cara’s leadership stands out as she inspires those around her to achieve greatness and tirelessly challenges inequity.

As a finalist for the NSW Premier’s Women of Excellence award, Cara’s recognition is a testament to her tireless efforts to effect change. We are proud to highlight Cara’s significant role in shaping a narrative of empowerment and progress for young women across Australia.

The NSW Women of the Year Awards recipients will be revealed at a ceremony on Thursday 7 March, and we are sending our sincere best wishes to Cara.

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HMEF Scholar receives the 2024 Queensland Premier’s Anzac Prize

The Harding Miller Education Foundation is thrilled to share the news that one of our Queensland scholars, Sophie Robertson, has been awarded the prestigious 2024 Premier’s Anzac Prize. Currently in Grade 10 at Ayr State High School, Sophie is one of the 8 Queensland high school students who received this fully funded prize and the first student from Burdekin to do so. The winners were announced in the Queensland Parliament by Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk at the end of last month.

The Premier’s Anzac Prize is a highly enriching initiative tailored for young individuals passionate about history. Those who receive the prize will engage in activities that contribute to developing their understanding of the Anzac spirit and its contemporary significance, both in Australia and globally. As part of the program, Sophie will set off for Brisbane to participate in a two-day young historians workshop hosted by the State Library of Queensland in January next year. This workshop is a prelude to a 16-day tour through Belgium, France, and the UK, where she will explore important memorial sites from World War I and II. As a particular highlight of this tour, Sophie will represent the Queensland Department of Education during the Anzac Day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux, France.

Before the tour, Sophie will also engage in research on two Anzac veterans, whom she will deliver eulogies on during the European tour. In addition, Sophie will be fundraising for Mates4Mates, an organization supporting Australian veterans and their families who have sustained injuries due to their military service.

Sophie states that she is honoured to have this opportunity as learning about Australia’s military history has always been close to her heart.

Congratulations Sophie! We are proud of you and wish you a rewarding and enjoyable experience throughout the program.

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HMEF Scholars awarded at the 2023 NSW Minister’s and Secretary’s Awards for Excellence

The Harding Miller Education Foundation has proudly celebrated the achievement of three outstanding Year 12 scholarship recipients. The HMEF scholars, Khawlah Albaf, C-K Crosbie, and Kiara Risnes, each received the prestigious Minister’s Award for Excellence in Student Achievement. The award ceremony celebrated the 2023 NSW Minister’s and Secretary’s Awards for Excellence which was held at the Sydney Town Hall on Tuesday, 5 September 2023.

The Award ceremony was hosted by the NSW Public Education Foundation on behalf of the Deputy Premier and Minister for Education and Early Learning the Hon Prue Car MP, and the Secretary of the NSW Department of Education, Mr Murat Dizdar PSM. The awards are held each year and acknowledge the outstanding achievements of schools, students, teachers, employees, and parents in the NSW public education sector. The Excellence in Student Achievement award received by the three Harding Miller scholars recognises outstanding Year 12 students who have excelled in their secondary years across academic excellence, sports, cultural, community and leadership. There are approximately 67,000 students in Year 12 in NSW this year and only 40 students across New South Wales received one of these awards. For three HMEF scholars to receive one of these prestigious awards is a fantastic achievement and is a testament to the success of the HMEF scholarship program in providing high potential girls an opportunity to reach their goals and be successful. Congratulations to Khawlah, C-K and Kiara!


Khawlah Albaf – Young High School

Khawlah Albaf displays an outstanding degree of character and values, which she consistently demonstrates through her daily actions, serving as an inspirational role model. Her exceptional leadership and teamwork skills are exemplified by her ability to collaborate within a team, while consistently attaining remarkable levels of success academically and as a school leader. Khawlah’s active involvement in state and federal youth leadership teams shows her dedication and commitment to making a positive impact in her community.

C-K Crosbie – St Johns Park High School

C-K Crosbie is an inspiring young woman who is motivated to succeed. She has demonstrated a love of learning and a commitment to achieve, both personally and academically. C-K is well respected and displays resilience, empathy and honesty. She has maintained an extremely high academic standard throughout her high school years and strives to achieve her goals. Held in high esteem by both her peers and teachers, she has fulfilled her role as School Captain with dignity. C-K possesses all the qualities of an exemplary student who is recognised for her motivation to overcome barriers and attain academic excellence.

Kiara Risnes – Leumeah High School

Kiara Risnes is an exceptional student who, in spite of her blindness, has always demonstrated positive engagement, an incredible work ethic, commitment and dedication to her academic pursuits. Kiara consistently achieves academic results at the top of her cohort and is excelling in Music 2. She aspires to attend university and pursue a career in music. She is recognised by her peers and teachers as an outstanding role model in our school and the broader community. Kiara is an exemplary representation of Leumeah High School and the values of public education. She is a most worthy recipient of the Minister’s Award for Excellence in Student Achievement.


We are proud of our three scholars’ achievements and we wish them all the best in what lies ahead.

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HMEF Team in City2Surf

On Sunday, 13 August 2023, the Harding Miller Education Foundation team had a fabulous day competing in the 2023 City2Surf. City2Surf spans across 14 kilometres from Sydney CBD to Bondi. This year marks the 51st year of this world’s largest fun run. Along the 14 kilometres we were treated to music and entertained by talented groups of musicians and dancers. A fun day was had by all!

A huge thank you to all our competitors – we had a team from HMEF and also a team from Rozelle Interchange. Thank you to everyone that competed and supported us on the day including our fabulous volunteers and our wonderful donors who helped us raised around $11,000. It was a successful fundraising event which will go towards funding more scholarships in 2024. All donations and support of the Foundation is greatly appreciated and is contributing to our goal of achieving education equality in Australia.

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HMEF celebrates its scholars at awards events in four cities

On Monday, 26th June 2023, the Harding Miller Education Foundation held the Sydney Awards Night at the Sofitel Hotel Wentworth. It was the foundation’s biggest event this year, with over 300 people in attendance. On the day of the event, the scholars participated in a series of expos and workshops. For the Sydney event this year, HMEF invited Playwave and Ernst & Young to host a workshop about Public Speaking and Women in Leadership respectively. The scholars then had the opportunity to meet their coaches and donors during the evening reception. The day concluded with the awards ceremony during which 75 Year 9 scholars were presented with their certificates and 35 Year 12 scholars received gifts.

Earlier in the year, HMEF held awards nights in Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane. HMEF Awards Night are an annual event to welcome the new Year 9 scholars to the Harding Miller Scholarship Program and celebrate their achievements. In 2023, we celebrated 201 new scholars from all states and territories of Australia, which brings the total number of our current scholars to 608 nationally. In addition to the new Year 9 scholars, for the Awards Night this year, we invited Year 11 and 12 girls who did not get the chance to celebrate their achievement during the first year of the program due to the pandemic.

The first awards ceremony in Perth was held on the 3rd of April at the University Club of Western Australia, attended by 31 scholars from across Western Australia. We invited scholars from Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and Australian Capital Territory for the next awards night in Melbourne. On the 8th of April, 72 scholars attended the Melbourne event at the State Library Victoria. The celebration in Melbourne was followed by the Brisbane Awards Night on the 22nd of May, which brought together all Queensland-based scholars to the State Library of Queensland. Wrapping up the series of events was the Sydney Awards Night which was attended by a total of 110 scholars from New South Wales and 2 scholars from the Northern Territory.

HMEF Awards Nights are not simply events to celebrate the achievements of wonderful scholars from across Australia, but they are also an opportunity for scholars to gain insights and build networks with peers and people from different backgrounds.

We would love to see more girls being a part of this event and the scholarship program next year. HMEF scholarships are the most generous scholarships available to public school students in Australia and provide the tools and resources for scholars to reach their academic potential. Each scholarship is valued at $20,000 over four years from Year 9 to Year 12 and include a laptop, broadband, IT support, personal tutoring, prepaid card for school essentials, online homework help, a personal coach/mentor and extensive enrichment opportunities that build pathways to tertiary education and fulfilling careers.

Scholarship applications for 2024 will open on 13th July and close on 14th September 2023. Students must apply when they are in Year 8 as the scholarship starts when they commence Year 9. If you are interested in learning more, please contact 1300 103 896 or watch this video that briefly explains the application process.

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Kim Harding awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia

A huge congratulations to our co-founder, Kim Harding, newly minted OAM for service to the community through charitable organisations. Her work at the Harding Miller Education Foundation is phenomenal and sits amongst her other philanthropic interests including marine conservation, homelessness, the prevention of domestic violence and the arts.  

At the Harding Miller Education Foundation big hearts and hard work are the uniform, and Kim leads by example. Her energy is endless. Her passion and her compassion are unrivalled. She aims big and loves large and the foundation’s achievements are due to this incredible combination of traits being drawn together with a great focus on the achievement of education equity for Australian girls. Her passion and leadership have inspired other donors to contribute and hundreds of volunteers to work with us.   

This significant recognition through the award of Medal of the Order of Australia coincides with the Foundation awarding our thousandth scholarship. That means that we have distributed more than $20,000,000 of scholarships to high-potential Australian girls who don’t currently have the resources that they need to achieve their full potential.   

Each scholarship is a multi-layered four-year support system that can be personalised to meet the individual needs of each recipient. The scholarship includes personal tutoring, a high-quality laptop, mobile data, remote IT helpdesk support, study skills training, online homework help, access to books and book vouchers, and a pre-paid expense card to cover education expenses. The scholarship recipients also have access to a range of online and in-person experience to broaden their view of their career prospects and give them the knowledge and confidence that they need to achieve those careers. We call this our enrichment program, and we partner with Australian universities, businesses, and inspiring individuals to deliver a broad and exciting range of options for the students each year. Every scholarship recipient is also partnered with a personal coach who assists them to navigate the scholarship opportunities and supports them to make the most of their educational opportunities in and out of school.  

The long-term payoff of the investment of the founders as well as our other donors, volunteers and supporters is not yet visible but as the number of graduating classes grows so do the stories of the life-changing impact. A thousand scholarships means a thousand stories… so far.   

Kim, with her co-founder Irene, have directly funded the administration and operational costs of the foundation since its inception in 2015. In addition, they have also personally supported more than 600 scholarships across the eight years. 

Kim received the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the 2023 King’s Birthday Honours List.


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