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In 2004, a chance meeting between Indigenous scholar and UNSW academic Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver AM and the then President of the Board of Shalom College, Ilona Lee AM led to the discussion of a residential scholarship for a specific Indigenous medical student who was planning to drop out of university because of the long distance she had to travel each day. This meeting was followed by a second meeting which included Dr Hilton Immerman OAM, College Master and it was then that the idea of the Shalom Gamarada Indigenous Scholarship Program was born. Its aim was to assist Indigenous students with the almost insurmountable problems of finding a safe, affordable place to live near UNSW while they were studying.
And so the Shalom Gamarada Indigenous Residential Scholarship Program was founded. It has steadily grown over the past 15 years to currently support 25 Indigenous students living at Shalom College. In 2019 the program celebrated the graduation of its 50th graduate.


The Shalom Gamarada Indigenous Residential Scholarship Program was established to make a contribution to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians through higher education and by increasing the number of Indigenous professionals.


This program provides residential scholarships to Indigenous students who have been accepted into a degree at the University of New South Wales to live in the secure and supportive environment of Shalom College. This includes full room and board, academic and wellbeing support.


In 2019 Shalom Gamarada celebrated its 50th graduate.


Josef McDonald

"I lived at Shalom College for 5 years.It was a life-changing experience for me. I had time to study hard at uni, in a racism-free environment in which Indigenous students can live proudly. Without this scholarship it would have been impossible for me to study medicine as there is no way my family could afford for me to live in Sydney."

Dr Josef McDonald, Bachelor of Medicine/ Bachelor of Surgery. Master of Public Health. Josef is an Awabakal man and comes from the Newcastle region, NSW. He works for the Hunter New England Local Health District in Newcastle as a Psychiatry Registrar.

his chosen specialty.


Linda Kennedy

"The Shalom Gamarada Indigenous Residential Scholarship Program gave me a place to live and thrive on the campus. It helped me grow as an individual and professionally. Becoming an architect would not have happened without the scholarship."

Linda Kennedy, Bachelor of Architecture. Director, Indigenous Architecture and Design, Victoria. Linda is a Dharawal woman and comes from Wollongong, NSW.


Mitchell Heritage

"The scholarship changed my life.

It allowed me to move to a completely new city and build a career I never would have thought of without it!"

Bachelor of Commerce.

Mitchell is a proud Kuku Yalangi man from Brisbane, Queensland.



“The scholarship also allowed me to spend more time studying and because of this I graduated with a distinction in my both the Bachelor of Medical Studies and the Doctor of Medicine. So again thank you to Gamarada and my scholarship providers (the Gonski Foundation) for giving me the life I now have as a working Doctor, something that I never even considered possibly many years ago.”

Clancy Read, Bachelor of Medical Studies and the Doctor of Medicine


We work closely with the following partners to achieve success for Shalom Gamarada recipients. We thank our partners for their ongoing commitment to the program and for their recognition and support.




It is a great demonstration of the strength and value of the Scholarship Program that we have been able to attract donors and supporters like these. We thank each and every one of them. The best way we can reward our supporters is by continuing to celebrate graduates who have reached their potential with our help. 

  • UNSW Scholarships

  • Medicines Australia Indigenous Medical Scholarship

  • Western New South Wales Local Health District Scholarship

  • Murrumbidgee Local Health District Scholarship

  • The Goodridge Foundation Scholarships

  • The Gonski Foundation Scholarship

  • The Reuben Pelerman Benevolent Foundation Scholarship

  • The Pinshaw Family Foundation Indigenous Scholarships

  • The Origin Foundation Grant King Indigenous Scholarship

  • The Wolper Jewish Hospital Health Foundation Medical scholarship

  • The Leon Kawalsky Memorial Scholarship

  • The Go Foundation Scholarship

  • The Roth Family Foundation Scholarship

  • The Marshbaum Family Foundation Scholarship

  • Baker & McKenzie and Friends Indigenous Law Scholarship

  • Bernard Hendel Memorial Scholarship

  • Joe and Shirley Hersch Indigenous Medical Scholarship

  • Yetty and Otti Windt Indigenous Scholarship

  • JCA, V & I Newman Scholarship Fund

  • Alan Joffe and friends Consortium Scholarship

  • Josephine and David Holland Scholarship

  • Karen Loblay Scholarship


Ilona Lee AM

Co-Founder of Shalom Gamarada. Vice Chair of COA. Former President of The Shalom Institute

Dr Josef McDonald, Psychiatrist

Shalom Gamarada Scholarship alumnus.
Graduate of Medicine and Public Health, UNSW Psychiatry Registrar, Hunter New England Local Health District in Newcastle

Professor Lisa Jackson Pulver AM 

Co-Founder of Shalom Gamarada. Pro Vice – Chancellor, Indigenous Strategy and Services, University of Sydney

 Dr Hilton Immerman OAM - 

Honorary Fellow, University of NSW; 2014 recipient Ron Castan Humanitarian Award and was CEO of the Shalom Institute for 28 years

Dr Lisa Sarzin

​B.Bus/LLB (First Class Honours), LLM, PhD Relationship and Partnership Consultant, Tranby National Indigenous Adult Education and Training
Author of Stories for Simon (Random House Australia, 2015) and Hand in Hand: Jewish and Indigenous People Working Together (2009)

Renee Wootton

​Shalom Gamarada Scholarship Recipient 
Graduate of a Diploma of Science, Engineering and Technology, Aerospace Engineering with Honours, Post-Graduate Diploma in Aviation Flying, University of NSW  Strategy and Planning Manager at Western Sydney Airport 

Jason Eisner

Deputy Chair, Shalom Board of Directors. ​

Alan Joffe 

Retired businessman and consultant.

Michael Pollak 

B. Com, CA, MBA

ASX Company Director, Corporate Advisory, Strategy and Consulting

Alexandra Senter (nee Tselios)

Founder and CEO of The Big Smoke Media Group, and co-founder of the Jewish House Mend App.


“We can declare with confidence – and gratitude – that the program is not only an investment in each of the young Australian beneficiaries but a most valuable investment in our nation Australia.” 

– Hon. Dame Marie Roslyn Bashir

The Hon. Dame Marie Roslyn Bashir, AD, CVO is the former and second longest-serving Governor of New South Wales. 


Gina Cohen

Executive Director 

Shelley Sacks

Director of Operations

Alexandra Senter

Executive Advisor

Michelle Kubie

College Director

Chelsea Hancock

Dean of Student Wellbeing

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