Message from the VC: Perpetual scholarship to honour Aiia Maasarwe

Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar announces La Trobe University and the Victorian state government will offer new, perpetual scholarship honouring Aiia Maasarwe.

This morning I met with Victorian Premier the Hon Daniel Andrews MP, Saeed Maasarwe, the father of our student Aiia Maasarwe who was tragically murdered in January this year, and Aiia’s sister Noor. The purpose of the meeting was to announce with the family the establishment of a perpetual scholarship at La Trobe University to honour Aiia’s memory.

I am very grateful to the Premier for his support in helping the University to honour the family’s wishes to establish a scholarship in Aiia’s name. The Aiia Maasarwe Scholarship at La Trobe University will be offered to financially disadvantaged students to either study a three-year undergraduate degree in any subject or to undertake a four-year PhD research project investigating the safety of women and girls, with a preference for a research project addressing safety on public transport from origin to destination.

Scholarship recipients will receive the equivalent of up to $68,000 a year or up to $272,000 over four years. The Government has committed $700,000 to a scholarship endowment fund, and the University will make an equivalent contribution. The scholarship will be offered for study in 2020, with applications opening in early November.

I am aware that some students may have been distressed by recent media reports about the murder and upcoming sentencing. You may have reflected on the tragedy over the weekend if you saw reports about the family’s visit to Melbourne. I would like to remind you that the University has a range of security and support services for students. You can also talk to your friends and family, access our free counselling service or make use of the La Trobe University Crisis Line by calling 1300 146 307.

La Trobe University is committed to providing a safe University community. We continue to undertake activities to improve personal and physical safety including lighting upgrades, additional security cameras, centralised information about safety on campus, and enhanced support services for staff and students.

The safety of our students and staff is also of critical importance off campus, including on public transport, and we will continue to work closely with relevant authorities, including Public Transport Victoria, to address serious safety issues on public transport.

We are honoured to partner with the State Government to deliver the Aiia Maasarwe Scholarship program in perpetuity. On behalf of the La Trobe community, I thank Premier Andrews for supporting this important initiative.

Professor John Dewar

Vice-Chancellor, La Trobe University