In 2014, local residents Dennis and Tauba Wilson generously inaugurated a scholarship for Indigenous tertiary students following a visit to the Melbourne Holocaust Museum.
While visiting the museum, the Wilsons viewed a display dedicated to Aboriginal leader and human rights activist William Cooper. As generous supporters of the museum, and with a passion for helping Indigenous youth, they envisaged a scholarship in William Cooper’s memory that would practically assist Indigenous students during their academic years.
Who was William Cooper?
William Cooper was born in the Yorta Yorta tribal territory and dedicated his life to fighting for Indigenous rights. In December 1938, he presented a historic petition to the German consulate in Melbourne condemning the Kristallnacht pogrom and the Nazis’ treatment of the Jews. He died in 1941.
Melbourne Holocaust Museum acknowledges Cooper’s role in standing up to the Nazi regime as highly significant at an individual level; his actions are further symbolic of the traumatic history Indigenous and Jewish populations share and his overarching resistance against prejudice and racism.
The Melbourne Holocaust Museum Wilson Family Scholarship currently continues in William Cooper’s honour to enable Indigenous students to undertake tertiary level studies at five universities across Melbourne.
Making an Impact at a Community Level
To date, the scholarship program has successfully fostered over 20 students to further their education, supporting their cost of living and relieving the pressure of working fulltime during their studies. In 2020, Renee Cremer received the award and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 2021. She is very grateful to the Wilson family for supporting her to further her education and become a leader in her community:
“Thank you to the Wilson Family for their generous support through the Melbourne Holocaust Museum, Wilson Family Scholarship.
I still remain passionate about being a role model for other young Indigenous mothers and continue to demonstrate that it is possible to complete your studies whilst pursuing a career you’re passionate about.
I have recently graduated from Deakin University with a Bachelor of Arts and I am so grateful to have received the support I have through this scholarship,”
– Renee Cremer
We are exceptionally grateful to the Wilson family for pioneering this initiative that enables Indigenous students to pursue tertiary studies in their field of interest.
To learn more about the program please visit our scholarship page.
The Melbourne Holocaust Museum is a not-for-profit organisation that relies on the public support for its ongoing operation. Every donation – no matter how small – goes a long way to help the museum educate against hate.