Lisa’s legacy lives on

A La Trobe University scholarship continues to honour the life of humanitarian Lisa Malone, who died while working for the United Nations in Guatemala 20 years ago.

The Malone family say the community-funded scholarship is an ideal way to honour Lisa, who devoted her life to helping people in need in Australia and abroad.

Lisa died in a helicopter crash in a mountainous region of Guatemala in March 1998, where she was part of a United Nations team providing education to local communities.

The former Wodonga resident had completed her Master of Social Work at La Trobe in 1997.

After her death, La Trobe University established the Lisa Malone Scholarship with the support of the Albury-Wodonga community, The Border Mail and the Hume Building Society. The scholarship is awarded each year to students studying at La Trobe’s Albury-Wodonga Campus who demonstrate a commitment to humanitarian ideals.

Lisa’s sister Toni said she hoped the scholarships would inspire others to continue Lisa’s fearless work.

“Scholarships such as this are incredibly important. Social work and humanitarian work is tough, unrelenting, largely unrecognised and thankless work.  We hope the scholarship will help boost the profile of the work and also assist financially, as often people involved in humanitarian work are struggling themselves,” Toni said.

Before working with the UN, Lisa had worked in many volunteer and social work roles, including as a live-in carer for disadvantaged people in Melbourne, a volunteer English teacher in Mexico, a women’s officer in El Salvador and a social worker in Alice Springs.

Twenty years after Lisa’s death, Toni said her memories of her sister remained strong.

“Lisa was cheeky, fun, smart, kind, adventurous with a bit of rebellion, and very generous,” she said. “My family and I have always wanted people to know that Lisa was just a normal person, but she was a great example of when ordinary people can do extraordinary things.”

Toni said she was grateful to the people of Albury-Wodonga, who came together to support the scholarship fund.

“We would love to send huge hugs and thanks to everyone in Albury-Wodonga for the amazing support of the Lisa Malone Scholarship,” she said. “Losing Lisa was heartbreaking, but having her memory live on via the scholarship through La Trobe, and honours at Catholic College Wodonga, gives us comfort knowing that such an early tragic death was not in vain. I am sure Lisa would be proud and grateful, as are we.”

Among the previous recipients of the Lisa Malone Scholarship is Megan Pearce, who completed a Master of Social Work at La Trobe’s Albury-Wodonga Campus in 2017. Megan is a committed volunteer in her community, and received the 2016 Albury Volunteer of the Year award in recognition of her work. She said it was an honour to receive a scholarship in Lisa’s name.

“I was absolutely humbled to receive the scholarship – it was quite an honour not only because of the calibre of people who had received it in the past, but because it held so much meaning for me knowing Lisa’s story,” Megan said.

“It came at a time when I was on placement so it helped me so much financially – it meant I was able to continue volunteering and keep up my commitments within the community while I was on placement, which meant a lot.”

Megan, who works as a social worker at the Centre against Violence, said Lisa has been an inspiration for many La Trobe social work alumni.

“I get so much hope from Lisa’s story, knowing all the people she helped during her life. It definitely motivates me to continue giving back,” Megan said.

Support the Lisa Malone Scholarship Fund

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