Forward Scholarship | Forward Ability Support

Forward scholarship program

Enhance your life skills

Receive up to $5,000 to forward your future

Do you want to achieve greater independence in life? The Forward Scholarship Program could be for you, with each recipient receiving up to $5,000 per annum to fund the cost of study, learning life skills or other programs of your choice.

At Forward, we are always striving to create a more positive and inclusive society for people living with spinal cord injury. The Forward Scholarship Program is committed to supporting career, educational and life goals of people living with SCI or similar neurological conditions.

Our scholarship program could help provide you with employment opportunities, financial stability, and greater independence.

Please note: Forward scholarships are open to Australian citizens and permanent residents living in NSW, ACT and NT.

A woman looks happy and confident as she leads a group discussion at her place of work. She is a wheelchair user and has Muscular Dystrophy.

3 ways the Forward Scholarship Program could benefit you

Gain employment opportunities

Education through formal study, short courses and skills development can help create employment opportunities and elevate your professional development

Increase independence

Learning life skills can help increase your personal and financial freedom and enable you to forward your future

Build confidence

Courses can help in self-development and build your confidence and enables you to have a nurturing relationship with people around you and also the community in general

Why you should apply for the Forward Scholarship Program 2024

  • Financial assistance of up to $5,000 for the year
  • Up to 20 recipients awarded the scholarship every year
  • Funding may be used for things not covered by the NDIS
  • Participants have choice and control to select the courses, training and equipment you want

Areas of study covered:

  • Undergraduate or postgraduate formal qualifications
  • Continuing Professional Development (CPD)
  • Short courses, single units of study aimed at maintaining and improving professional knowledge and skills
  • Short courses related to employment, employability, life skills, independence or SCI community engagement and contribution (for example, writing, community development, advocacy)
  • Study readiness courses (for example, university preparation courses, literacy and numeracy courses)

Funds may be used for:

  • Courses, programmes and skills development
  • Excursion funds, transport costs and residential expenses
  • IT and equipment requirements, textbooks and stationery
  • Modified driving, assistive technology, and more

Mark Tonga’s story

Recipient of Forward Scholarship Program, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023

Mark was awarded the Forward Scholarship in 2020 and is now in his third year of an MBA at the Australian Graduate School of Management (a postgraduate facility associated with UNSW).

Mark’s CV includes recent roles as ministerially appointed and reappointed, Chair of the Disability Council of NSW, and various competitively appointed advisory roles in Committee to local governments and to the NDIA. Mark has been able in his busy schedule to maintain his studies at a Distinction average.

We contacted Mark about his academic journey and the highlights of the Forward Scholarship Program.

What have been the benefits of the Forward Scholarship program?

The scholarship alleviates the financial burden of my studies. I owe my academic success in part to it.

What are some challenges faced by people living with a disability?

Attitudinal laziness of many who don’t know me well. The inability to look at what skills “we” have and what trainable skills are attainable. I was a 35-year-old graduate accountant with the world at my feet career wise. Then, after waking from my coma, and in a wheelchair, I noticed that many of those who had respected me professionally now had blinkers on. I was suddenly incompetent. Locked in an attitudinal prison.

What do you think is needed for people living with a disability to succeed in their education and work towards employment?

For “us”: The same as for anyone.

Work: Build up a cogent CV.

Study: Get the marks in a course that suits your ability.

Social: Maintain supportive contacts & get out of your comfort zone on a daily basis. Productive habits. Network, Network, Network with people who you respect.

For “them”: Those who observe and evaluate us – Get used to courteously correcting over-use of the ‘D’ word, so that it now becomes “VA” – people of varied ability – And we all, everyone you meet, are of varied ability. I can take 10,000 random bits of account data, turn them accurately into a set of accounts and projections that can save a client thousands in the time that many others are still scratching their heads – i.e., focus on “varied ability” not that misnomer “disability”!

Got a question?

Talk to us for more information about our services and how we can help you.