Fostering our brightest young stars

Lani Pauli 24 August 2021

After being awarded the 2016 RSL Youth Development grant as a high school student in Mackay, Meghan Malone has since gone on to study law and politics in Canberra.

Meghan Malone

Law student Meghan Malone, centre, says winning the 2016 RSL Youth Development program helped develop her leadership skills and bolster her confidence. She is pictured with Mackay RSL Sub Branch Senior Vice President Col Benson, left, and President Ken Higgins OAM.

  

If it's true our experiences shape us, it stands to reason that being awarded the RSL Youth Development Program grant in her last years of high school guided Meghan Malone towards her current path of becoming a lawyer. 

 

Meghan was awarded the $5,000 grant in 2016, which she used to develop ANZAC education materials for primary school children at three schools in Mackay. 

 

The program was offered to high achieving senior school students, giving them leadership and educational opportunities. 

 

“I purchased an ANZAC teddy and drew on my drama class lessons to create a puppet show and some relevant books to share with younger students to help teach them about the ANZAC spirit and what it means,” Meghan says. 

 

“It was a way to sustain the ANZAC values and keep the ANZAC spirit alive in younger children who may not otherwise have a connection to Defence or veteran life.” 

 

“Being able to engage with my community like that definitely helped me think bigger about what I might like to study, and I’ve found myself attracted to subjects that look at Australian society, government and policy so that I can be making a larger impact with my work.” 

 

It wasn’t Meghan's first experience with Defence and serving the community - she received the Queensland Premier's ANZAC Prize in 2015, which included a trip with 70 other students to Gallipoli to educate future generations about the true ANZAC spirit.  

 

“We stayed the night in the park near where the Dawn Service was held at Gallipoli and also travelled to Turkey and the Western Front,” she says.  

 

Meghan’s visit to Gallipoli also inspired her to research her family members who fought in Papua New Guinea and the Western Front in World War One.  

 

“It was emotional to uncover the lives of family I hadn’t met, and being able to go to Gallipoli and walk where they fought and see their final resting site was a true honour,” she says. 

 

“My research helped me connect with family members I hadn’t before, and I still have them in my life today.”  

 

 A FUTURE ROOTED IN COMMUNITY SERVICE

Now living in Canberra and studying law and politics at the Australian National University (ANU), Meghan says she’d like to practice government law after she finishes her degree in a little over a year.  

 

Winning the RSL Queensland Youth Development Program in her final years of high school played a large part in Meghan having the confidence to apply for The Tuckwell Scholarship when she was accepted to study at ANU. 

 

“It is the most financially supportive scholarship in Australia and has meant that I’ve been able to be financially independent and be able to focus solely on my studies and volunteer roles,” she says. 

 

The Tuckwell Scholarship is given to 25 school-leavers each year who will be attending ANU, giving them financial, accommodation and travel support throughout their studies.

 

Likewise, she believes her previous awards helped foster and cultivate a sense of community awareness that is valued by ANU in their students. 

 

“Especially for scholarship students, they’re looking for someone with a connection to Australia and someone who wants to give back to Australia in some way. Someone who has an ongoing desire to contribute and have a connection with the community.” 

 

Meghan has spent her uni years working for a law firm and giving back to her community through volunteering at the student union and environmental organisations. 

 

“I’ve been able to work up to leadership roles in my college and student unions because of the support the scholarship has given me,” she says. 

 

“Giving back to the community is something I’m passionate about and it’s been wonderful to be able to do it while studying.

 

“The traits of the ANZAC spirit that I shared with the young students in Mackay – like resilience, a sense of honour, compassion for others and a commitment to country – is something that I try to keep at the core of what I do now.

 

“They shaped our identity as a country with their ingenuity, ability to think creatively about problems and their desire to go above and beyond to improve the lives of Australians and people around the world. I can only hope to carry these traits with me as I enter my professional career.” 

 

Meghan continues to seek professionally beneficial opportunities, having recently won a scholarship for a placement in constitutional law at the Attorney General’s Department and the Government solicitor. 

 

“I’ll be doing the placement over the summer and hopefully they’ll hire me. That would be great,” she says.

 

 

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