A community that gives

Photo of Garry Irwin

Pictured: Garry Irwin.

The spirit of philanthropy at UTS goes deeper than the Staff Giving Program.

With over 200 participants, the UTS Staff Giving Program exemplifies the adage “Never ask anyone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself.” Now in its tenth year, the UTS Staff Giving Program assists students who are facing financial hardship. Collectively, staff donors are one of the largest donors to UTS.

“ If I can help a young person, then hopefully they can enjoy the same things I’ve enjoyed in life.” - Garry Irwin

UTS Vice-Chancellor Professor Attila Brungs, a staff donor himself, hailed the achievement with fellow donors. “I am humbled that you have demonstrated your belief in UTS by investing not only your careers with us, but also at least a part of your philanthropic interests. Your choice of making charitable contributions here shows your faith that they will be used well, in keeping with UTS’s culture of inclusion and support for all students in pursuit of excellence.”

For one member of UTS staff, however, it is an activity he has participated in since long before it was formalised into a program. “A few emails were sent around in around 2005,” recalls Garry Irwin, who is executive assistant to the director of Student Administration. “I felt it was a good idea. HR told us what to do, we signed a little piece of paper; and 13 years later I’m still doing it.”

That is, a small amount is taken from his pre-tax pay every fortnight and donated to the Staff Giving Program. Every dollar he donates is matched dollar for dollar by the university – a gesture to show that it shares his beliefs in community, philanthropy, and the power of education.

“I don’t see it as out of the ordinary to give back to society,” says Irwin, whose parents both received a Medal of the Order of Australia for their work with Legacy. “If I can help a young person, then hopefully they can enjoy the same things I’ve enjoyed in life.”

“Whatever you contribute, it’s a fortnightly thing. You don’t miss it at all. It makes you feel you are contributing to someone’s education.”

A large part of staff donations go towards the Diversity Access Scholarship and the Financial Assistance Program, which are dedicated to assisting students who are facing social and financial hardship. In twelve months, UTS staff donors were able to help more than 1,000 students with scholarships, as well as new computers, text books, accommodation, food vouchers and more – expenses that can make the difference between working long hours to pay the rent and being able to study without any of those worries.