MEDIA RELEASE: February 12, 2020

We are delighted to announce that Joelle Sanounou is the recipient of the inaugural Australia for UNHCR Beddie Scholarship. This scholarship was created to support a refugee to study at the prestigious Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS).

Joelle Sanounou, a Syrian refugee, arrived in Australia three years ago. She is deeply committed to pursuing a career in the film and television industry and for telling her own, distinct story. “This scholarship means a lot to me, especially being someone who grew up in a society where women are not encouraged in the film making industry. It will pave the way for a great future in film and television,” she said.

This scholarship was established with the generous support of the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS), Australia for UNHCR and Francesca Beddie, to help the scholarship recipient develop their storytelling talents. The scholarship, valued at over $72,000, covers full tuition for a Bachelor of Arts program, living expenses and internship opportunities at Australia for UNCHR.

AFTRS Director of Curriculum and Registrar, Nell Greenwood, said: “AFTRS is delighted to welcome Joelle Sanounou to the School. Joelle is a formidable talent with a compelling creative voice and we are really looking forward to supporting her through the school and on her journey to becoming a great filmmaker.

We would like to thank all of our partners involved in making this scholarship possible, it has truly been a collaborative effort and we thank Francesca Beddie, Public Education Foundation and Australia for UNHCR.”

Australia for UNHCR National Director, Naomi Steer, said: “The calibre of applicants for this scholarship was outstanding and demonstrates the passion and strength for storytelling in our refugee communities. Joelle is an inspiring young woman who has so much potential and drive to tell stories and build understanding of the refugee experience.

We’re proud to be part of her journey and help foster her skills, as part of this prestigious new scholarship with AFTRS and interning with our team.”

Francesca Beddie is delighted this partnership has made it possible for Joelle to pursue her desire to be a filmmaker: “I initiated this scholarship to honour my parents, in particular my mother, Rurer, who I am sure would join me in congratulating Joelle on her energetic commitment to film. It is the stories behind the news headlines that help us truly understand the human condition.”

The Public Education Foundation’s Executive Director, David Hetherington, said: “Joelle‘s passion for the creative industries and storytelling is inspiring. It’s exciting to work with our partners on this important scholarship that provides opportunities for the development of diverse and creative voices.”


 Notes to editors

 Australia for UNHCR is the UN Refugee Agency’s national partner in Australia, raising awareness and funds to support UNHCR’s global emergency response to humanitarian crises. It achieves this through the generosity of Australian individual donors, trusts, foundations and other organisations who donate to and partner with Australia for UNHCR to support its goals.

 Rurer Beddie first came to live in Australia during World War II. Until the age of 10 she lived in China. Her father was a naturalised Englishman, whose Jewish parents left Germany in the 1890s. Her mother was English. War meant that Rurer had to leave three childhood homes: Tientsin, Jersey and Melbourne. She returned to Australia in the mid-1950s and lived in Canberra for the rest of her life. This scholarship honours her strong sense of social justice and her support for the arts.

 Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) is the nation’s premier screen arts and broadcast school. AFTRS empowers Australian talent to shape and share their stories with the world by delivering the most future-focused education, research and training.

The Public Education Foundation works in collaboration with the schools, communities, business and both the state and federal governments to provide equity and excellence scholarships for students and educators in public education; and enhance the value and reputation of public education.

 For more information please contact: Melanie Morrison, Public Education Foundation

Tel: 02 7814 2808 I Email: