Date posted: 26/05/2022

2021 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Scholarship winners

2021 Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Scholarship recipients Sophia Sherwood, Lacreicha Major and Courtney Butler discuss how the scholarship will further their studies and future careers.

Each year, Chartered Accountants ANZ awards scholarships to students of Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander background to assist in the completion of their studies.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scholarship can help close the gap of financial literacy and allow young accountants to smash the glass ceiling of the industry and make a difference.

The 2021 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Scholarship winners are three inspiring individuals who are already planning to use their skills to give back to their communities.

Let’s meet the recipients!

Sophia Sherwood 

Sophia Sherwood, a proud Wiradjuri woman from Darkinjung Country, has had a long journey toget to where she is now. Through hard work, perseverance and dedication Sophia made up for lost years at school by balancing a full-time job with her accounting studies.

“My hard work at university and passion for the accounting industry in partnership with my Indigenous heritage led me to the World of Congress of Accountants event where I met the Aboriginal speaker of the day and realised the change I could make in the industry,” she says.

“The passion I hold for my heritage stems from my childhood and grandfather’s active involvement in our community. When attending Darkinjung Aboriginal land council meetings with him, I realised my passion for finance and social justice.”

After gaining her diploma, Sophia was able to earn a place at University of Technology Sydney through the Jumbunna Indigenous Pathway.

“I applied for my Bachelor of Business, majoring in accounting, sub-majoring in Accounting in Practice, and I did that for six years in the evenings because I needed to work full-time.”

Sophia heard about the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Scholarship while studying and originally became interested in accounting to help her family and community improve their financial literacy and understanding.

“I'm just so grateful to receive the scholarship to continue my studies. It's really helpful because my part-time studies have been for eight years now in the evenings. So, it's very encouraging to get that help and support when I've been doing it the longer way," she says.

"I feel that if my mum had more resources available to her, even the smallest relief would've made a big impact. And helping Indigenous and non-Indigenous businesses and people work together would benefit each other and would definitely help bridge that financial gap."

Sophia is currently completing her studies while working at an accounting firm on Eora country, Sydney. She plans to use the scholarship to earn her CA designation and use her accounting skills to help disadvantaged communities.

“I want to become a Chartered Accountant to help Indigenous people and communities have a better understanding and knowledge of finance. I'm not sure if that means having my own firm or working directly with Indigenous businesses or working with businesses who do. But my goal is to be able to speak to people in a language they can understand and to help close that knowledge and economical gap.”

“My goal is to be able to speak to people in a language they can understand and to help close that knowledge and economical gap.”

 Lacreicha Major 

For Lacreicha Major, a proud Kalkadoon and Mitakoodi woman, finance and accounting have always been a passion.

“I was always conscious about finances and how it affects everything we do, so it's just always been embedded in my life. I really enjoy accounting and love coming to work,” she says.

Lacreicha works as a Finance & HR manager for QATSICPP, an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community controlled organisation.

After completing her Bachelor of Commerce at Griffith University, she decided not to commence her CA studies due to the financial burden it would cause to her young family. Fortunately, a few years later her partner came across the CA ANZ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander scholarship, and it felt destined to be.

The scholarship eases both the financial and social burdens she would otherwise face whilst studying to become a CA and allows the freedom to enrol each term. Her scholarship application
was also supported by her workplace, CEO and CA Mentor.

“It creates such a difference when you don't have to think about how you're going to pay for your next subject,” Lacreicha says.

She wants to use the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Scholarship to continue her work helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities.

“I want to have my own accounting firm in the future, and I would like to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals and organisations to reach their full financial capacity to ensure we are making the best informed financial decisions for ourselves and our communities,” she says.

“I want to be a positive role model for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, instilling financial fundamentals and in turn, inspire and advocate for others to become Chartered Accountants.”

The assistance means Lacreicha can continue her studies without financial burden to continue reaching her goals and aspirations.

Courtney Butler

Courtney Butler, a proud Undanbi woman, has found a career that helps her combine her enthusiasm for numbers with a passion for helping local communities.

Working as a Finance Officer for the Department of the Chief Minister in the Northern Territory Government has allowed Courtney to play a part in increasing financial literacy in surrounding communities.

“I love that I get to help people who have different levels of financial literacy, not just finance executives or experts,” she says.

“The people we work with may not be interacting with finance and numbers day-to-day, so it’s an opportunity for me to adjust my communication style and explain accounting principles within a context they can relate to.”

Courtney is inspired by the scholarship and is hoping to use her newly acquired skills to fulfil her future goals, or what she describes as her “not-quite 10-year plan”.

“Since the Mabo decision, Indigenous people have a lot more rights over our land, but that's not always reflected in the world of business where Indigenous people and communities are still underrepresented," Courtney said.

"My role in the Government has given me a strong understanding of the different land grants available and how businesses can manage them. I love the idea of working with my Mob, land councils, boards and steering committees to improve understanding and create new opportunities."

When asked about her advice for people considering applying for a scholarship, Courtney’s response was concise and simple: “Just go for it,” she said.

The three recipients of the scholarships are exempt from all CA Program module fees, ranging from CA Study Masterclass workshop fees to membership fees. The scholarship allows students to access up to $10,000 worth of services.

Want to learn more about the Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander

Read more here

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