On Saturday 23 April Rhodes Scholarships in Australia (RSA) hosted the third National Dinner at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney. It was the RSA’s largest gathering yet – an impressive 152 guests came from as far as Hobart, Perth and Hong Kong. It was an entertaining and lively reunion enjoyed by Scholars of all generations.
The National Dinner was attended by the Honourable Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister of Australia (New South Wales & Brasenose 1978) and Mrs Turnbull, His Excellency General The Honourable David Hurley AC DSC (Ret'd), Governor of New South Wales and Mrs Hurley, the Honourable Bob Hawke, AC, GCL, former Prime Minister of Australia (Western Australia & University 1953), the Honourable Sir James Gobbo AC, CVO, QC, former Governor of Victoria (Victoria & Magdalen 1952), and Lady Gobbo along with Senior Scholars and partners, Selection Committee members, and importantly 7 of the 9 recently-selected Rhodes Scholars who will start at Oxford in October.
Prime Minister Turnbull delivered the keynote speech. He spoke with typical verve of the romance of his time of Oxford, the need for leadership in contemporary Australia, and the challenges facing Australia in a globalising and disruptive world. RSA was very appreciative that the Prime Minister made such an energetic contribution to the evening. National Secretary Professor Marnie Hughes-Warrington (Tasmania & Merton 1992) also spoke. She described the important changes she and Deputy Secretary Alec Cameron (New South Wales & University 1986) have made to strengthen the selection processes, and in particular their efforts to ensure that all students – from any Australian university - have an opportunity to apply for the Scholarship. Many of these achievements reflect the hard work of over 70 volunteers, panel members and Vice Regal chairs, whom Marnie thanked sincerely for their time and expertise.
Lastly, RSA Chairman Mr Tim Orton (Australia-at-Large & Magdalen 1986) issued a rousing call. Following an update on RSA’s fundraising progress, he asked guests to reflect on the benefits that their Scholarship had brought them personally and professionally. It was an important reminder about the shared responsibility of all Scholars to support the Scholarship which helped launch them. He urged guests to contribute whatever they could to the fund raising campaign - and to thereby help secure the Australian Rhodes Scholarships for future generations of young Australians. RSA intends to continue the tradition of bringing Scholars together in the coming years. The National Dinner is a hugely popular event that helps Scholars reconnect and learn more about the broader Rhodes community.