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SFC fights for diversity with new scholarships

written by Hannah Dowling | February 17, 2022

Sydney Flight College has introduced a slew of new scholarships to help cover training costs for the next generation of promising Indigenous and female pilots.

The Bankstown-based flight school on Friday conducted its first scholarship presentation under its annual Indigenous Scholarship program, which goes to one selected Indigenous student enrolled in its CPL Diploma Course, per year.

The scholarship covers the gap between the selected student’s HECS/HELP loan from the government and the total cost of completing the course, meaning the selected student does not need to pay out of pocket to study.

SFC said the move highlights its “commitment to the attraction, recruitment and retention” of female and Indigenous pilots in the aviation industry.

Each scholarship is awarded based on the results of a screening process, SFC said, which includes a number of written and oral assessments, as well as an initial flight.

SFC said it believes its Indigenous Scholarship for pilot training is the first of its kind in Australia.


The Australian Defence Force’s first Indigenous Elder Uncle Harry Allie of Gudjala Tribe was there to present this year’s annual Indigenous Scholarship to Thomas Blackman, a Butchulla man from K’gari (Frasier Island).

Speaking at the event on Friday, Blackman said, “Today marks the history of the first Indigenous Scholarship for Sydney Flight College. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to have been selected to receive this scholarship.

“I aspire to pave the way for future indigenous applicants who come through SFC, and I am proud to be a part of a school that is taking this step.”

SFC is also preparing to present its first Women Pilot Scholarship, in partnership with the Australian Women Pilots’ Association (AWPA).

The flight school will offer two scholarships per year to women enrolled in SFC’s CPL Diploma Course, with one covering students enrolled in the January and April cohorts, and one for the June and October intakes.

Both SFC and the AWPA are involved in the selection process for the Women Pilot Scholarship.

“What we’re really trying to do with these scholarships is to raise awareness and attract women pilots and indigenous pilots into the industry, who otherwise might have not seen it as an opportunity open to them,” said SFC chief executive Joseph Pilo.

“When it comes to flight training, there’s no difference or distinction between a male or a female. At the end of the day, they get trained the same. It’s the same syllabus, they fly the same aircraft.

“So if we want more diversity in the industry, this is where we start.”

Comment (1)

  • Ross f Mackinnon


    My dad was in the RAAF and In RAF and the battle of Britian. My dad Herbert R Mackinnon was in 453 squadron in the south of England then went to work for qantas after the war.

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