One of the donors, Margaret Robertson with Barbra Zaloumis and her five children.
One of the donors, Margaret Robertson with Barbra Zaloumis and her five children.
31 July 2014

Domestic violence survivor and single mother of five Barbra Zaloumis is one step closer to achieving her dream of becoming a sociologist after winning a scholarship to study at The University of Queensland.

Ms Zaloumis hopes the scholarship will help her develop knowledge and skills to improve women’s lives through applied research, particularly in the area of domestic violence.

Her Robertson Family Scholarship will enable her to complete a Bachelor of Human Services/Arts.

“I want to study film, television and new media to develop solutions and recommendations for changes to government policies and services in domestic violence and child support,” she said.

Ms Zaloumis has already proven she has the strength and determination to make a difference in the world.

In 2009 she took her family – two sets of twin girls and a boy – to a women’s refuge and set about rebuilding her life.

She enrolled in a Bachelor of Fine Arts at QUT, graduating three years later.

“I was a full-time student, a single mother going through a divorce and my only source of income was Centrelink,” she said.

She also founded Moving Women Forward Inc – an Australian based non-profit organisation designed to help women who have fled domestic violence to achieve independence.

The Robertson Family Scholarship was established in 2013 in memory of Bill and Molly Robertson, mature-age students at The University of Queensland who graduated with Bachelor of Arts degrees in 1950 and 1972 respectively.

Their five children are all university graduates, four from UQ.

The scholarship is dedicated to assisting mature-aged students in financial need who want to study in UQ’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Daughter Joanne Russell said her parents, both teachers, were committed to education and the value of arts and humanities.

“They always encouraged us to strive for higher education and to compete for scholarships – in fact, scholarships were vital for us to attend university,” Ms Russell said.

“By establishing the family scholarship we hope to help others achieve their higher education goals.

“Ms Zaloumis is just the sort of person we wanted to help.”

Ms Zaloumis said she was extremely grateful for the scholarship.

“It means I can now afford to buy text books and a home computer,” she said.

“My greatest desire is to have a computer at home because I can’t stay at university after 5pm as I need to pick up my children from childcare.

“The scholarship will also help with my transport costs as I have to catch two buses each way to get to university four days a week.”

Ms Zaloumis, an Australian of the Year nominee, was recognised by the YWCA last year as one of 125 Leading Women in Queensland.

Annually, the scholarship funds are the interest derived from the Robertson Family Scholarship Trust; this year the funds are in the region of $4000.

Media: Joanne Russell, (02) 966 55 882,; Barbra Zaloumis, 3355 5432,; Communications officer Kristen Johnston, 3346 1633,