Our Work

Together we can change lives

The Harding Miller Education Foundation (HMEF) is an Australian charity and Public Benevolent Institution providing scholarships that offer the tools and support to lift the educational achievements and career aspirations of high potential girls who are facing disadvantage. We have DGR1 status so all donations are fully tax deductible. Furthermore 100% of every donation raised goes directly to a girl in need. All operating costs are paid for through a separate corpus.

The Foundation’s mission is to provide practical support to lift the educational outcomes and career aspirations of high potential girls who are experiencing socio-economic disadvantage.

Across Australia, public schools have a disproportionate share of the poorest families but also of children who are most educationally disadvantaged. Women within Australia are two and a half times more likely to live in poverty. 

Scholarship support begins in Year 9 and are awarded for 4 years. At the end of Year 10 scholars are invited to reapply for the next two years of support.

The scholarship is valued at $20,000 across the 4 years and includes;

  1. A high quality laptop in the first year as well as high speed internet access and IT support

  2. Expense cards for school costs, uniforms, excursions every year for 4 years;

  3. $2500 worth of face to face tutoring every year for 4 years through a tutor of their choosing;

  4. Unlimited online homework assistance through Studiosity every year for 4 years;

  5. A personal coach to ensure the girls make the most of their scholarships and to guide them along the way.

Kim Harding and Irene Miller established the Harding Miller Education Foundation in 2015 and are long term champions of the education of girls and of public education. They had previously provided scholarship for girls the Public Education Foundation who did not have the advantages available to girls in higher socio-economic circumstances.

The first girls to receive scholarships in 2016 are now in Year 12 and are graduating at the end of 2019. In the first years, girls were given cheques to help with their educational requirements. The approach has changed now to providing computers, internet access, tutoring, some funds for other needs and coaching support.

Kim Harding and Irene Miller fund all the administration costs allowing all donations to go to the scholarship recipients.

The Foundation is still working closely with the Public Education Foundation to mutual benefit. The Public Education Foundation offers a wide variety of scholarships for both students and teachers in public schools and promotes the quality and status of public education.

As well as donation, the Foundation is seeking the support of volunteers to help with tasks such as administration, technical and educational advice, fundraising, public relations, procurement and marketing.

Cara Varian is the CEO of the Foundation. She is a woman of great experience in the public domain and holds a master’s degree in Social Science (International Development). She worked extensively in a voluntary capacity for the Public Education Foundation while fully employed. Cara is committed to public education and the advancement of girls. Kim Harding and Irene Miller fund her position.

Kim Harding and Irene Miller are joined on the Foundation’s Board by Angella Bregovac, Steve Di Leo and Andrea Slark who generously volunteer their time and extensive experience to the progress and growth of the Foundation. Meet our board.

What is the Selection Criteria for the Scholarship?

  • Girls entering Year 9 in the following year
  • Attends an Australian Public School
  • Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • Experiencing personal or socioeconomic disadvantage
  • Evidence or testimony from the School Principal of high academic potential
  • Demonstrated motivation to achieve academically and professionally. including an intention to carry on to tertiary education
  • Demonstrated interest in extracurricular. community or leadership activities will be considered favourably.

What is the Selection Process for the Scholarship?

We convene a ‘board of experts‘ who meet, review and approve each application to ensure that they meet the selection criteria. Our panel composition is typically:
o Current serving Principal
o Education Expert
o Independent
o Harding Miller Representative

As part of the application process and prior to receipt of any assistance from the Foundation, we gather information about the student from:

  • the student‘s School Principal:
  • the student themselves:
  • the student‘s parent or carer: and
  • the student‘s referee.

This combination of sources allows us to obtain a full and independently verified picture of their circumstances. thereby ensuring that the student is necessitous and disadvantaged and meets the selection criteria.


What is deemed as disadvantaged?

A range of factors contribute to disadvantage. In our experience we generally see this manifesting in an inter-connected combination of the following factors:

  • Students suffering misfortune or destitution
  • Very low income or experiencing financial hardship
  • Family violence or dysfunction
  • Students living in Out Of Home Care
  • Students or their family member living with a disability
  • Parents with an immigrant. asylum or refugee background
  • Identification as an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • Identification as a Pacific or South Sea Islander
  • Geographic isolation
  • Low parental or carer academic achievement.

Why Women & Girls?

Women continue to be over represented in areas of disadvantage and underrepresented in positions of power and influence. We know that investing in women build stronger families. communities and economies. Harnessing the potential of women would increase the Australian GDP by 11% according to Goldman Sachs estimates the pay gap between men and women currently costs the Australian economy $93 billion every year.

In Australia. women earn 83c in the dollar compared to men. Women in Australia are two and a halftimes more likely to live in poverty in their old age than men. In 2014. Australia was the worst performing country in the OECD for women at work. according to the WC Women in Work Index. The percentage of women on boards is now at 16.1% according to the Australian Institute of Companies Directors. Women work 66% of the world‘s working hours yet earn only 10% of the world‘s income. On average women reinvest 90% of their wages into the family while men reinvest 30-40%.


We know that investing in women builds stronger families, communities and economies