University of New South Wales

Founded in 1949, the University of New South Wales (UNSW) is one of Australia’s most prestigious universities. It was ranked as one of the top 20 universities worldwide in the 2023 QS World University Rankings. In addition to its main campuses in Sydney and Canberra,  UNSW also has regional campuses in Albury, Coffs Harbour, Griffith, Port Macquarie and Wagga Wagga.

The Balnaves Foundation currently supports the UNSW through the School of Medicine and the Uluru Dialogue at the UNSW Indigenous Law Centre.


The University of New South Wales’ School of Medicine is one of the world’s top 50 medical faculties. Its leading educators, researchers and clinicians are translating discoveries into breakthrough cures, therapies and treatment strategies and turning high achieving students into caring healthcare professionals with globally recognised qualifications.

Since 2009, The Balnaves Foundation has supported the UNSW’s School of Medicine to provide Indigenous Medicinal Scholarships to outstanding students who are financially challenged to study medicine. The Scholarship is offered to one student each year who receives $30,000 for every year of their six-year degree. This support is designed for the scholar to use as they need, for rent, textbooks and support for their studies, or even travel home.

“We provided these scholarships in recognition that one of the main difficulties Indigenous students face is financial, with many having disadvantaged backgrounds and financial responsibilities above and beyond that of non-Indigenous students.”

– Hamish Balnaves

From 2012 – 2014, the Foundation also supported the University to build Nura Gili, a centre for First Nations students at UNSW. Nura Gili provides student support services for Indigenous students, conducts research into Indigenous issues and provides courses of study – for all students at the University. It is a central hub with state-of-the-art technological facilities, a library and study areas.

Find out more about University of New South Wales, Medicine here and Nura Gili here.


The Indigenous Law Centre (ILC) is an integral part of the Faculty of Law at UNSW. Established in 1981, the ILC is the only Indigenous law research centre in Australia. The ILC contributes to the recognition, protection and development of the legal rights and freedoms of Indigenous peoples both in Australia and internationally.  Appointed The Balnaves Chair in Constitutional Law in 2020, Professor Megan Davis is one of the key architects of the Uluru Statement from the Heart whose focus is on ensuring the advancement of this critical national agenda.

In memory of Alexandra Balnaves, the Foundation committed $1.25 million to UNSW’s Indigenous Law Centre to establish a term Chair in Constitutional Law for Professor Megan Davis. Alexandra, the eldest child of Neil and Diane, was a passionate and forceful advocate for First Nations people right to self-determination, recognition, and equity.

Professor Davis is a constitutional lawyer who researches in public law and public international law. Her current research focuses on constitutional design, democratic theory and Indigenous peoples. Professor Davis is Pro Vice-Chancellor Indigenous UNSW and a Professor of Law, UNSW Law and in 2017 was elected by the UN Human Rights Council to UNEMRIP. Professor Davis currently serves as a United Nations expert with the UN Human Rights Council’s Expert Mechanism on the rights of Indigenous peoples based in UN Geneva.

In 2011 Professor Davis was appointed to the Prime Minister’s Expert Panel on the Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples in the Constitution and in 2015 was appointed by the Prime Minister to the Referendum Council. Professor Davis was instrumental in the development of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, designing the deliberative dialogues and chairing the Council’s sub-committee for the First Nations regional Dialogues and the First Nations Constitutional Convention in 2017.

“It is an honour to be named The Balnaves Foundation Chair in Constitutional Law. My priorities as Chair will be to provide the academic rigour needed to inform development of proposals for constitutional amendment and institutional design of a Voice to Parliament, as well as the foundations of a future Makarrata Commission as set down in the Uluru Statement [from the Heart], to oversee agreement making across the federation and to facilitate truth telling processes,” Professor Davis said in 2020.

In 2021, The Uluru Statement from the Heart was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. Professor Megan Davis along with other First Nations leaders Pat Anderson AO and Noel Pearson accepted the award on behalf of all First Nations people that worked on the Statement. The judging panel said the Uluru Statement was a “powerful and historic offering of peace” that was crucial to the “healing within our nation” but had not yet been acted upon.

In 2023, the Uluru Statement’s call for an Indigenous Voice to Parliament enshrined in the constitution culminated in a referendum. Despite the tireless efforts of Professor Davis and other Indigenous leaders the referendum was unsuccessful. Professor Davis will continue her work as a leader and champion for First Nations rights in Australia.

Find out more on Professor Megan Davis and the Uluru Statement from the Heart here.