Bendigo celebrates fundraising milestone

La Trobe University has met its ambitious $100 million fundraising goal – boosting its world-class research and enabling more students access to higher education – thanks to its generous donor community.

The University is now setting its sights on reaching $200 million by 2027, as part of the next stage of its Make the Difference Campaign.

La Trobe Vice-Chancellor Professor John Dewar AO said the Bendigo community has been critical in supporting some of the University’s most impactful research – as well as breaking down financial barriers to higher education for many regional students.

“Support from donors such as Dr William and Mrs Carol Holsworth, for example, has enabled vital research into the causes of cancer and neurodegenerative conditions – as well as health and nutrition, exercise science and rehabilitation,” Professor Dewar said.

“World-class research on our Bendigo campus not only influences health policy and practice in Australia, but has far-reaching impacts around the world – all made possible by the University’s generous donor community.”

Head of Rural Allied Health in Bendigo, Associate Professor Brett Gordon, said the Holsworth Research Initiative – established through a significant donation – is focussed on tackling concerning rates of insufficient physical activity leading to chronic disease.

“Research from the Active Rural Individuals stream of the Holsworth Research Initiative is focussed on helping people safely and effectively manage health conditions through exercise, and examines the best way to conduct aerobic and resistance training.

“We know that resistance training is important for maintaining health and preventing disease, but our new research looks at how much and how intensively people should do this kind of exercise to get the greatest overall benefit,” Associate Professor Brett Gordon said.

More than $16.7 million has been donated to La Trobe’s four regional campuses since the Make the Difference campaign began in 2017. Some of the key gifts supporting La Trobe’s Bendigo campus include:

  • $3.5 million towards La Trobe’s high impact rural health research through the establishment of the Violet Vines Marshman Centre for Rural Health Research
  • A significant donation to establish the Holsworth Research Initiative that aims to tackle concerning rates of insufficient physical activity leading to chronic disease, particularly among rural and regional Australians
  • A significant donation towards the Holsworth Student Grants which supports students from the Bendigo region to study at La Trobe’s Bendigo Campus
  • $300,000 towards building one of the most powerful fluorescence microscopes in the country, as part of world-class research into the causes of cancer and neurodegenerative conditions
  • Scholarships for regional students to access higher education through La Trobe’s Golden Lanyard staff giving program

As well as monetary gifts, the Geoff Raby Collection of 174 works of Chinese art was donated to the University by distinguished alumnus Dr Geoff Raby AO, valued at $3.1 million.

Assembled over a 35-year period from the mid-1980s, the collection is the single largest cultural gift ever made to the University. Bendigo Art Gallery, in partnership with the La Trobe Art Institute, is showing nearly 70 artworks from the collection in the exhibition In Our Time: Four decades of art from China and beyond - the Geoff Raby Collection, which opens on 20 August.

The campus also recently received artworks by acclaimed Melbourne-based artist Emily Floyd, originally exhibited as part of the exhibition Anti-totalitarian vectors at the Anna Schwartz Gallery in 2019 – and now installed at the Bendigo campus library.

About La Trobe’s Make the Difference campaign

La Trobe launched its first ever fundraising campaign, Make the Difference, to coincide with its 50th anniversary in 2017, with a target of $50 million by 2020. This target was reached well ahead of schedule in early 2018.

The second phase of the campaign was launched in June 2018 with a more ambitious target of $100 million by 2022. This was reached this year and the campaign has now been extended, with a $200 million target to be reached by 2027.

Watch the Make the Difference campaign video

Media Enquiries: Anna Knight -, 0481 383 817

Image: L-R, A/Prof Brett Gordon and Dr Julie Rudner in the Exercise and Conditioning Lab at the Bendigo campus