President’s Report for 2015

Dr Bob Breen, the outgoing President of the Podmore Foundation, prepared the following report covering Podmore’s successes and achievements through 2015, and the vision for the future.


25 October 2015


The Story So Far

In 2007 a group of Duntroon classmates from the 1970s, all but one from immigrant or single mother families, established the Podmore Foundation in gratitude for the vocational and university education they had received at the Royal Military College of Australia.  Four years boarding at Australia’s premier military leadership training institution had been a transformational experience that provided them with military careers that became foundations for successful civilian careers.

The name ‘Podmore’ originates from Larry Podmore, a fictional staff cadet whose amusing escapades were made up by Duntroon cadets in the early 1970s.  This ‘try-hard’, fair dinkum, but error-prone cadet became a legend epitomising the Duntroon journey of great mateship and youthful enthusiasm, as well as commitment to serving Australia.

The Podmore Foundation now involves a diverse group of Australians who want to create educational opportunities for others in gratitude for the education they have received.  Podmore’s motto Returning Opportunity is about giving talented and determined young people the opportunity to reach their full potential. Podmore’s purpose is to gather the human and financial resources necessary to create conditions for as many young people as possible to have their lives and prospects transformed by a good education in good company.

In 2008 the Podmore Foundation partnered with Yalari for selection and education of Indigenous children from Australian rural and remote communities and towns.  Yalari ( is currently sponsoring nearly 200 Indigenous children to study at 34 of Australia’s finest independent boarding schools. Yalari and Podmore raise funds to cover the significant financial gap between the means-tested ABSTUDY scheme and costs of a boarding school education far from home.

Each Podmore scholarship is worth $5,500 per annum to assist Yalari pay school fees for one of their scholarship recipients from Year 7 until Year 12, based on successful completion of each year’s study.  Podmore also sponsors its scholarship recipients to travel in Australia and overseas to reinforce their academic gifts, leadership attributes and sporting prowess. In 2015 three scholarship recipients travelled overseas: one to Japan for Japanese language immersion; one to Vanuatu for French language immersion and one to Canada to participate as a member of the Australian U24 Dragon Boating Team in the World Championships.

In 2011 Podmore partnered with KPMG-Canberra to provide a volunteer Treasurer and Secretary to the Board and female mentors and role models for Indigenous scholar recipients boarding at Canberra Girls Grammar School (CGGS). In 2015 three Indigenous mentors joined the mentoring team and it has diversified with two mentors from other occupations.

In 2014 scholarship recipients boarding at CGGS began attending an Indigenous Australian cultural group. The Solids, once a week and have performed with this group at festivals celebrating Australia’s cultural diversity.

Since 2008 eight scholarship recipients have completed their secondary schooling.  Seven have continued with tertiary and vocational education and one works as a doctor’s receptionist in her home town.

In 2015 the Podmore Foundation had seven scholarship recipients studying at schools in Canberra and Sydney. One recipient will graduate from CGGS this year and intends to enrol at Trinity College, Melbourne University in 2016. The first Indigenous boy to enrol at Canberra Grammar School on a Podmore scholarship will begin his secondary schooling in Year 7 in 2016.

Votes of Thanks

The Podmore Board 2015

May I begin by thanking members of Board for their sterling service in 2015:

  • Mike Hyde, Vice President
  • David Retter, Secretary
  • Beth Mallett, Treasurer
  • Neil Greet, member and Membership Secretary
  • Julie Gilfillan, member and benefactor
  • Narelle Sargent, Director, Mentoring
  • Tamara Shaw, Director, Communications and Public Relations (Internship)
  • Kelly McDonnell, member and Director, Podmore Runners, Packers and Prams
  • Les Bienkiewicz, Public Officer

Philanthropic Partners

Podmore has a number of philanthropic partnerships (in alphabetical order) that include:

  • Abbotsleigh, independent Anglican school for girls, Sydney
  • Australian Army Indigenous Strategy team, Canberra;
  • Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA)
  • ADFA Graduates Association
  • Canberra Girls Grammar School (CGGS), independent Anglican school for girls, Canberra
  • Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies
  • The Duntroon Society
  • Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation, Canberra
  • KPMG-Canberra
  • St Ignatius, Riverview, independent Catholic (Jesuit) school for boys, Sydney
  • The Solids, Indigenous cultural group, Bonner, Canberra
  • Yalari, a not-for-profit organisation selecting and sponsoring Indigenous children from rural and remote communities and towns to board at some of Australia’s finest independent boarding schools

Benefactors and Donors

Podmore would not be viable without the contribution of benefactors and scores of donors each year.  I thank them all of another year of financial contributions, as well as in-kind support and encouragement

Many of Podmore’s most generous benefactors and donors include family members and friends associated with the Gilfillan, Stokes, Porter and Breen families.

Military alumni are a significant group of ongoing benefactors and donors.  I would like to thank alumni from the Royal Military College, Duntroon, Officer Cadet School, Portsea and Officer Training Unit, Scheyville, including principal annual benefactors (alphabetical order) Les Bienkiewicz, Glenn Crosland, David Forster, John and Jenny Hands, Richard Healy, Mike and Philippa Hyde, Mick Humphries, Roger Jaques, Roderick Jewell, David Ross and Jeff Wilkinson.

Current Scholarships – 2015

  • ADFA Graduates Association Scholarship – recipient Mia, a CGGS Boarder from Cairns, QLD
  • Brigadier Damian ‘Dolly Roche Memorial Scholarship – recipient Isabella, a CGGS boarder from Moree, NSW (sponsored by Glenn Crosland)
  • Charles and Kathleen Pannell Memorial Scholarship – recipient Sarah-Cait, a CGGS boarder from Moree, NSW (sponsored by Mary Porter AM, MLA and her husband, Ian De Landelles
  • Centre for Defence and Strategic Studies Class of 2014 Commemorative Scholarship – Angelina, a CGGS boarder from Leeton, in the Riverina District of NSW
  • Duntroon Class of 1972 Commemorative Scholarship – recipient Aubrey, a boarder at St Ignatius, Riverview, from Taree, NSW
  • Gwen Breen Memorial Scholarship – recipient Lyric, a CGGS boarder from Darwin, NT (sponsored by children of the late Gwen Breen and family friends)
  • Warawitcha Commemorative Scholarship – recipient Larissa, a CGGS Boarder from MacKay, QLD (sponsored by benefactors who wish to remain anonymous)

For the first time in the eight-year history of the Podmore Foundation, all scholarship recipients are receiving named scholarships.  This gives Podmore the security of knowing that a number of dedicated benefactors underpin our scholarship program and enable Podmore to increase the number of recipients each year with confidence, as well as having funds to support recipients who have distinguished themselves and been selected for further academic, sporting and personal development opportunities in Australia and overseas.

Mentors and Tutors

Podmore provides ‘first responder’ guardianship in emergencies on behalf of the parents of the six scholarship recipients boarding at Canberra Girls Grammar School.  As well, a group of volunteer mentors and tutors work closely with recipients and their parents, who are mostly solo Mums, as well as boarding house staff and teachers to ensure that recipients are not alone as they meet challenges of communal living, a demanding study regime and expectations of personal achievement.

In 2015 the role of Director Mentoring transitioned from Meaghan D’Arcy to Narelle Sargent.  Thanks to Meaghan who took on this role four years ago and to Narelle who has done a great job in 2015. The mentors (alphabetical order) in 2015 were:

Jennifer Bennett, Meaghan D’Arcy, Kate Driver, Diwa Hopkins, Amanda Ingram, Melinda Ingram, Katherine Meagher, Lauren Moffitt, Dani-Lee O’Neil, Sally Richardson and Dharmini Robertson.

Dharmini had her first child and will step away from mentoring in 2016. Thanks to Dharmini and her husband, Chris, for their support over the past two years.

Sally Richardson will step away from mentoring in 2016 due to increased personal and professional commitments. Thanks to Sally for her support over the past four years.

Richard Taylor tutored scholarship recipients.

Exceptional Individual Contributions

There were a number of exceptional individual contributions in 2015.

I would like to make special mention of Kelly McDonnell who has done another outstanding job of coordinating the Podmore Runners and Packers, as well as a new group made up of young Mums and their babies called the Podmore Prams. The City2Surf fundraiser this year was an outstanding success.

Narelle Sargeant has been able to take over as Director, Mentoring and has hosted several ‘get togethers’ at her home, as well as recruiting new mentors.

Another continuing contributor this year was Officer Cadet Phoebe Sutherland, a member of the ADFA Community Services Voluntary Extra Curricular Activities (VECA) Committee. Phoebe organised the participation of ADFA cadets in the City2Surf fundraiser, as well as a visit by CGGS scholarship recipients and other boarders to ADFA to present certificates of appreciation to the Podmore Packers and to have a go at completing the Over-water Obstacle Course at the ADFA Pool. She was ably assisted by Midshipman Maggie Twyford and new organiser Officer Cadet Michael Snart.

This year scholarship recipients consolidated their attendance at The Solids, Indigenous Cultural Group, and I would like to thank Billy and Belinda Bashford, and Richard and Mandy Allen for enabling the girls to learn about and participate in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture, commemorative events and craft.

Liz Hayes, Yalari Support Officer for ACT and NSW country, has done a great job again this year. Podmore is building a solid collaborative relationship between Liz and mentors and tutors.

Indigenous Scholarship Report 2015

The Indigenous Scholarship program continues to provide an organisational narrative of both Returning Opportunity and fellowship in fundraising – the original vision of Podmore’s founding fathers. Successful scholarship certificate presentation and fundraising events have increased participation, developed new philanthropic partnerships, engaged scholarship recipients and their families, and provided publicity for the Podmore Foundation’s work.

Podmore Foundation scholarship recipients enjoy the support of Professor Mick Dodson, AM a former Australian of the year, one of the founders of the bi-partisan Reconciliation process and Professor of Law at the Australian National University, as well as the Governor General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, KVO, AC, MC.  Professor Dodson and the Governor General have presented a scholarship for leadership in their names for several years.  Past recipients of this scholarship have been:

  • 2010    Kyol Blakeney, graduate of Scots College, Bellevue Hill, first Indigenous student to be appointed as Pipe Major of the Scots College Pipes and Drums, winner of a residential scholarship to St Andrews College, Sydney University, and the President of the Sydney University Students Representative Council in 2015. Currently, studying to be a primary school teacher.
  • 2011    Mitchell Whiteley, graduate of St Ignatius, Riverview, winner of a residential scholarship to St Andrews College, Sydney University, and former Captain of the Australian Schoolboys Rugby Union team and Australian Junior Polo cross Team.  He is currently playing for the Sydney Stars in the inaugural Australian National Rugby Cup competition and was selected for the NSW U20s Rugby team. Studying to be a physiotherapist.
  • 2012    Rhianna, Abbotsleigh, team leader on a commemorative walk in far North Queensland, 2014 graduate of Abbotsleigh, who served as a Prefect in her final year.
  • 2013    Larissa, CGGS, Captain of her premiership netball team two years in a row, team member of a philanthropic expedition to Thailand and Laos, team member CGGS Basketball team that represented the ACT at the Australian National High School Championships in 2012 and 2013.
  • 2014    Larissa, CGGS, ACT representative in the National Indigenous Youth Parliament, Vice Captain of the school in 2015 and participant in the Under 24 Australian Dragon Boating Team that competed in the world championships in Canada in 2015.
  • 2015 – Mia, CGGS, ACT, Vice-Captain of Robertson House, valued member of CGGS soccer team and participant in Drama and Dance cultural tour of the United States in 2014.

Podmore donated just under $40,000 to Yalari in 2015 to assist with the school fees of its seven scholarship recipients who have successfully completed three terms of study.  In addition, the Board spent just over $25,000 on national and international travel for 2015.

Events in 2015

Sydney Scholarship Certificate Presentation Lunch – 8 March.  Duncan MacInnes, former Treasurer, invited a group of his Duntroon classmates, supporters and guests to attend a scholarship certificate presentation lunch at the Orient Hotel, The Rocks, Sydney for Aubrey, Year 9, St Ignatius, Riverview.

Canberra Scholarship Certificate Presentation Lunch, Royal Canberra Golf Club – 15 March

Members and guests included:

  • Professor Mick Dodson AM and wife, Toni Bauman
  • Belinda Moss, Chair of the CGGS Board
  • Anne Coutts, Principal CGGS, and husband Reverend Ian Coutts;
  • Cath Ingram, Chair of KPMG’s Canberra Office and the leader of the firm’s Australian Government practice
  • Tina Twigg, Head, CGGS Boarding House and husband, Paul;
  • Major General Roger Powell, AM (Ret), Chairman, Executive Leadership Australia, and wife, Rhonda,
  • Professor Dodson presented scholarship certificates.  The guest speaker was Kyol Blakeney, Podmore’s inaugural scholarship recipient in 2008.

Sun Herald City2Surf Run 9 August.  This year a 54-strong contingent of Podmore Runners, Packers and Prams completed the 14 km City2Surf Run.  Twenty ADFA cadets, the Podmore Packers, went the distance wearing combat webbing and big packs.  Other participants in the event gave them plenty of encouragement.  Scholarship recipients Mia, Lyric, Sarah-Cait Isabella, and Angelina completed the run accompanied by mentors Amanda, Dani-Lee, Diwa, and Melinda. Bob Been and Nicola Crichton were the support team and Nicola was the event photographer.

For the second time a contingent of CGGS teachers (Nancy, Jenny and Brett) and CGGS students participated in the City2Surf to raise funds for a CGGS Podmore scholarship.

Three couples and their babies made up the first group of Podmore Prams.

This event’s success was due to the tireless efforts of Kelly McDonnell who organised participants, arranged Podmore T-shirts, established a fundraising page on the Podmore website with Secretary, David Retter and hosted participants at lunch afterwards at the Royal Hotel at Bondi.

Yalari Presentation of Year 12 Graduation Certificates 29 August. The Podmore Foundation was pleased to facilitate the provision of Duntroon House for the presentation of Year 12 Graduation Certificates to 29 Yalari scholarship recipients, including Podmore scholarship recipient, Larissa, who was the inaugural Yalari Valedictorian.  I presented the certificates this year.  

Presentation of Certificates of Appreciation and ADFA Obstacle Course Challenge – 4 September

Three scholarship recipients studying at CGGS presented certificates of appreciation to the Podmore Packers and participated in a tour of ADFA facilities and had a go with a group of CGGS classmates at completing the Over-Water Obstacle Course at the ADFA Pool. Scholarship recipient, Sarah-Cait completed the obstacle course again for the second year in a row.

Mentor Lunches and Birthday Parties

Narelle Sargent coordinated birthday parties for scholarship recipients and several lunches at her home in 2015. These events provided great opportunities to bond mentors and recipients and to share experiences.

Financial Position

There are sufficient funds and pledges to continue supporting our seven 2015 scholarship recipients in 2016, and for each year for the remainder of their secondary schooling, as well as the new scholarship recipient for 2016, Kye, from Bonner, ACT, who will be Podmore’s first scholarship recipient to study at Canberra Grammar School.

The Podmore Foundation can meet its debts and obligations as and when they fall due and there are sufficient funds in Term Deposits to continue operating, supporting and expanding the Indigenous Scholarship Program (See Independent Audit and Treasurer’s Report Annual Report for more details).


The Membership Secretary, Neil Greet, consolidated contact lists in 2015, and worked in conjunction with the Secretary, David Retter, to ensure that Podmore can stay in touch with its supporters. There has been significant growth in benefactors, donors and supporters on the Podmore contact database.

The Way Forward – Vision and Strategic Plan

At its final meeting of the Podmore Board before the AGM on 6 October, I announced that I would step down in 2016 to facilitate leadership renewal and to seek an appointment as an ex-officio Board member responsible for the Podmore Foundation’s future development.

The Board confirmed the need for a confirmation and clarification of the Podmore vision and the development of a strategic plan in order to strengthen Podmore’s narrative and goals for the future.

This vision will remain true to the motto Returning Opportunity and will broader Podmore’s out-reach programs as capacity and commitment increases.

In the interim until the new Board develops a refreshed vision and strategic plan the way forward will be for the Podmore Foundation to:

  • foster and grow the Indigenous scholarship program and build up funds for other projects as capacity and commitment for new projects develops;
  • plan and conduct fundraising activities with a focus on renewing and energising treasured friendships through fellowship and philanthropic endeavour;
  • conduct additional fundraising events in 2016 in order to attract new benefactors to support the entry of four new scholarship recipients to CGGS and four more to CGS in 2017;
  • continue to expand and diversify its membership base and include new members on the Board to represent that diversification;
  • form collaborative relationships and facilitate philanthropic opportunities for corporate sponsors, other service-minded organisations, military alumni and individual benefactors, and
  •  promote Reconciliation and Recognition of First Australians in the Constitution – Australia’s unfinished business of nationhood.

I commend this report to the eighth Annual General Meeting of The Podmore Foundation.

Associate Professor Bob Breen


The Podmore Foundation

25 October 2015


Download a PDF of this report here: Podmore Foundation – President’s Report 2015