The annual MADALAH Ball was held over the weekend at Crown Perth to raise funds towards academic scholarships for WA’s Indigenous students.

MADALAH stands for ‘Making A Difference And Looking Ahead’ and empowers Indigenous students and community members to make a difference by becoming future leaders and role models.

Indigenous students from remote and regional WA are given the opportunity to attend the state’s leading boarding schools and Australian universities through MADALAH scholarships supported by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The not-for-profit organisation also manages Nyirrwa Murrgurlayi Employment and Education Housing in Broome.

The program was first established by the Department of Communities to provide accommodation for Aboriginal people undertaking training and access employment opportunities.

This year marked MADALAH’s 10-year anniversary, and the event was once again a sell-out with approximately 850 people in attendance.

Among the exceptional performances from students attending MADALAH’s partner schools was Wesley College’s Moorditj Mob and Trinity College’s acoustic group, Diversity.

MADALAH CEO Philip Paul said the scholarship program supported students from Years 7 to 12 and those seeking tertiary qualifications.

“We have great partner schools and students, and just a selection of these were presented on the night of the ball. Leadership skills were displayed by our Alumni MCs, student presenters and musicians who played instruments and sang to warm the hearts of the audience,” Mr Paul said.

“It gives our clients and partners the opportunity to see the talent and recognise that these young adults are our future leaders. I guarantee one of them will lead Australia one day.”

Mr Paul said while the ball allowed students to display their leadership skills and talents, it was also about raising funds.

“We are very grateful to the Federal Government for pouring in millions of dollars over the last 10 years to support Indigenous education and scholarships. But there is always a higher demand for what we can afford to give,” Mr Paul said.

To raise the extra funding required, this year’s MADALAH Ball featured a raffle and both live and silent auctions.

Guests were encouraged to bring $50 to enter the raffle and have a chance at winning first prize – $3,000 cash.

Led by sports commentator Tim Gossage, the live auction featured highly sought-after items which helped raise enough funding to provide an additional 38 scholarships for Indigenous students in 2020.

Some of the auctioned items included a Didgeridoo hand painted by MADALAH students from Wesley College, as well as Eagles and Dockers football boots hand painted by MADALAH Alumni Zachary Bennett-Brook and signed by each team’s 2019 Indigenous Playing Group.

In the future, Mr Paul said he wanted MADALAH to continue to grow without losing touch of what the program stands for.

“My job is to try and get our brand out there, not many people have heard of the name MADALAH. [I’d like] to have a brand that is strong enough to ensure that every student or trainee of ours that wears our t-shirt is recognised as a leader in their community,” Mr Paul said.

“Ultimately, we want to be a source where industry can participate with us and provide employment opportunities to the students when they graduate.”

Mr Paul said he was grateful to have the support of exceptional staff and a strong board full of experienced members.

“I am very fortunate to have an exceptionally fantastic team here in Perth and Broome. The staff are not just diligent, but they have integrity and passion. It always leaves me astounded by what they produce. They are always stepping up to the plate and achieving results,” Mr Paul said.

“MADALAH cannot function without a good board and to have a very talented board that is both passionate and driven is a blessing. I can call them anytime and count on their support and guidance.”

By Jade Bradford