“Investing in girls’ education is the very best thing we can do, not just for our daughters and granddaughters, but for their families, their communities, and their countries.”


Margaret Meade was right. A small group of committed citizens can create change in the world. Earlier this year, Duchesne College set the ambitious goal to establish 25 bursaries in perpetuity over five years to enable young women experiencing financial hardship to attend our College. This is how members of our community seized an opportunity to invest in women’s education to change lives – with six bursaries already achieved.

In May 2021, The University of Queensland approached all ten residential colleges at UQ with an unprecedented matching offer to secure the future of our Bursary program. UQ offered to set aside dollar-for-dollar fund matching on 30 June this year for bursaries to Colleges, matching pledges from donors for up to five years.

As a result, the $2.5 million ‘Create Change, Create Wise Women’ campaign was established at Duchesne College. Over the course of May and June, four intimate events were held with various alumnae, friends of the College, staff and current families, securing some key campaign ambassadors in the process.

These ambassadors not only individually pledged to the campaign, but also offered to help ‘spread the word’ to the broader community within the tight remaining timeframe. The concept of ‘Giving Circles’ was proposed, and a number of groups were quickly established around ‘fresher years’, along with individuals, family members or ‘like’ groups.

“It was amazing to see the Duchesne College community mobilise so quickly behind this special opportunity. Giving more deserving young women the support they need to undertake their university studies in Brisbane is an example of our Sacred Heart values in action. I’m so proud to be part of a community that values the Duchesne College experience and supports women’s education so fiercely.”

– Michelle Allan, Head of College

‘Giving Circles’ comprising passionate Duchesne supporters quickly evolved thanks to ‘Bursary Ambassadors’ rallying the troops to take full advantage of the incredible UQ matching on offer. The first (and largest) Giving Circle was the ‘1979 Freshers’ established by Maxine Baldwin (DC’79). Maxine was the Student Club President in 1981, went on to a successful legal career, was a member of the Duchesne College Council for many years and currently serves the community as a Magistrate.

“We benefitted from the Whitlam government’s abolition of university fees so supporting bursaries is the perfect way to provide young aspirational women experiencing financial hardship with the Duchesne support and experience, the opportunity to pursue their tertiary studies and create life-long friendships like so many of us did.”

– Magistrate Maxine Baldwin

Maxine was thrilled to hear that one of their Giving Circle members was the $1.6 million milestone gift.

As a result of these efforts, some 78 donors pledged various amounts between one and five years. The largest group of donors were from Brisbane, although the reach was across rural and regional Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania and also included six from the USA.

An initial $500,000 injection was generously donated by the Duchesne College Council, a gift that, through the matching process, became $1 million. Other annual pledged amounts, from a variety of individuals, ranged between $50 and $50,000


College Council 1 Duchesne Friends 3
Council Alumni Member 1 2000s Alumnae 5
Parent 1 Current Council Member 5
1950s Alumnae 1 Current Staff 6
1990s Alumnae 1 1980s Alumnae 15
2021 Student Club 1 1970s Alumnae 36
1960s Alumnae 2 Total 78


In ‘lightning speed’ $1,977,250 was generated in total donations and pledges, including the University’s matching process. This incredible commitment in such a short period of time provided the confidence for us to  increase our target from 20 – 25 bursaries, and request that UQ quarantine $1.25 million for Duchesne College bursary matching, which UQ has now confirmed.

The College will continue to promote this wonderful initiative more broadly to the Duchesne College community over the remaining 4.5 years of the process.

If you’d like more information about the Campaign, please contact Mrs Lea Walker-Franks, Director of Advancement for a confidential conversation on 0419 767 961 or l.walker-franks@duchesne.uq.edu.au

We’re looking forward to welcoming alumnae back to the College regularly in the coming years to participate in a range of programs including the Wise Women and alumnae speaker series, professional breakfasts, alumnae reunions, regional events, and community-wide opportunities. Update your details here and keep an eye on our events page.