First published 14 December 2021

A group of community-minded and internationally focused QUT scholarship recipients are among the many Australians who hope to be celebrating the opening of international borders in 2022.

Three QUT students have been announced as recipients of 2022 New Colombo Plan Scholarships – a scholarship program funded by the Australian Government to allow undergraduate students to study and intern in Indo-Pacific nations.

QUT’s 2022 New Colombo Plan Scholars are:
- Sarah Gough, Bachelor of Justice/Bachelor of Laws (Honours), University of the South Pacific, Fiji
- Camille Luchs, Bachelor of Business/Bachelor of Justice, Nanyang Technological Uni, Singapore
- Martin Wirkus, Bachelor of Urban Development (Honours), Qingdao University, China

The trio will join 11 other QUT students and graduates who were awarded New Colombo Plan scholarships for 2020 and 2021 and have been patiently waiting for their opportunity to travel.

Those still studying at QUT will use their scholarships to study overseas and do internships, while those who have graduated will be able to do internships and language training abroad.

The scholars come from different fields and have different career goals, but share a common aim to get to know our Indo-Pacific neighbours better and strengthen bonds between countries.

QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Sheil (pictured above with Camille and Martin) congratulated all the scholars.

“We are delighted to have three QUT students awarded the prestigious New Colombo Plan Scholarships this year, and we see this as a positive signal of a return to outbound student mobility from 2022,” Professor Sheil said.

“These students will be well-placed to contribute to the re-engagement with the Indo-Pacific and strengthening ties with Australia.”

2022 scholar Sarah Gough.

Law student Sarah Gough is one of the 2022 scholars and hopes to specialise in energy and resources law after graduating from QUT.

She wants to use her New Colombo Plan scholarship to study in Fiji and learn about legal issues in the Pacific, global ocean governance, human rights, and resource contests in the Indo-Pacific.

“I am passionate about pro bono work and I’m excited by the chance to participate in the University of the South Pacific's legal clinic, which provides free legal advice to citizens of Fiji,” she said.

“I also plan to intern with the United Nations Development Program in Suva, which provides regional and country support to 10 countries, with a focus on inequality and climate change. From this internship, I hope to be connected to leaders and citizens who can teach me about resilience, sustainability, and effective governance in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Martin Wirkus is planning a trip to China, where he spent a gap year before starting his Bachelor of Urban Development (Honours), and hopes to intern in Shenzhen with a construction company.

“At the age of eighteen I arrived in Beijing for my gap year not knowing a word of Chinese – I threw myself into the deep-end,” he said.

“Through my opportunity with the New Colombo Plan I want to re-live this experience again in 2022 and throw myself towards the Chinese construction industry.

“I want to experience the way China does business in the industry and bring back that experience and knowledge as well as my fluency in Chinese and apply it to Australian construction.”

Camille Luchs intends to study political science in Singapore.

“The aim of my New Colombo Plan Scholarship program is to develop a comprehensive understanding of national security policy and the steps that can be taken to elevate women’s voices in national security discourse,” she said.

“At Nanyang Technological University, I will gain unique insight into the political environment of South-east Asia and how it influences national security policy.

“I plan to incorporate my interests in national security and feminism into my program, including by undertaking internships with the Association of Women for Action and Research and the Centre of Excellence for National Security.”

2021 New Colombo Plan Scholars, left to right: Owen Claxton, Ela Sinclair, Misa Mojarraei, Conor O'Reilly, Annaliese McCarthy and Billy Currie, with QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Margeret Sheil (centre).


QUT’s 2021 New Colombo Plan Scholars are:
- Owen Claxton, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)/ Bachelor of Science, Korea
- William Currie, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)
- Annaliese McCarthy, Bachelor of Design, Japan
- Misa Mojarrabi, Bachelor of Nutrition and Dietetic (Honours), Thailand
- Conor O'Reilly, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), Singapore
- Ella Sinclair, Bachelor of Science (Honours), New Caledonia

Annaliese McCarthy is QUT’s first Indigenous student chosen for the scholarship and is planning a trip to Japan to learn more about Japanese architecture and design.

“I hope to better understand how Japanese designers include their rich cultural heritage whilst still ensuring the built environment withstands natural disasters,” she said.

“As a proud Gadigal woman, I want to create architecture and public furniture showcasing the rich history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Engineering student Owen Claxton is planning a semester-long adventure to Korea to further his studies and experience in the field of aerospace engineering and build on his recent internshipp with CSIRO.

“The study component of my scholarship revolves around space science and rocket propulsion at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology,” Owen said.

“At the CSIRO, I had the opportunity to research and investigate the Australian connections to Europe and America through their respective space agencies for in-situ resource utilisation - space mining! I am hoping to find a Korean company which does work in this sector and has international connections so I can network with the industry.”

QUT 2020 New Colombo Plan Scholars, left to right: Gerard Anton, Lily Kennedy, Haard Shah, Benjamin Davie and Gemma Price, with QUT Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Sheil.


QUT’s 2020 New Colombo Plan Scholars are:
- Gemma Price, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)/Bachelor of Science, Singapore
- Lily Kennedy, Bachelor of Business (International), Japan
- Gerard Anton, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours), Malaysia & Japan
- Benjamin Davie, Bachelor of Engineering, Korea
- Haard Shah, Bachelor of Engineering (Honours)/Bachelor of Information Technology, Singapore

Since the New Colombo Plan program launched in 2014, the Australian Government has awarded 934 scholarships to Australian undergraduates, including 40 to QUT students.

QUT Media contacts:
- Mechelle McMahon, media@qut.edu.au
- After hours, 0407 585 901 or media@qut.edu.au