Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellowships


The Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellowships aim to support breakthrough solutions to Australia’s most pressing social and environmental challenges and bring new talent to the social sector.

Fellows are offered the unique opportunity to take 12 months away from their current role to pursue a big idea that has the potential to achieve positive outcomes in the areas of:

  • poverty and disadvantage
  • sustainability and environment
  • human, civil and legal rights.

The Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellowships provide recipients with time and support needed to develop their groundbreaking idea into a sustainable plan for action. Fellows will each receive $120,000 for their 12-month commitment to the program and an additional $30,000 will be available to each Fellow for approved expenses such as work space, rent, travel and contracting of external expertise.

We seek ideas that are:

  • high impact: likely to produce results in the areas of human, civil and legal rights, poverty and disadvantage, and/or sustainability and environment
  • unique: different from existing approaches
  • scalable and sustainable: the potential to scale up quickly and be sustainable over time.

And leaders who are:

  • experienced and entrepreneurial: a proven track record of achievement in their field and an appetite for risk-taking
  • passionate and connected: a genuine commitment and passion for their cause and the network to make it happen.

Selection Process

What is Offered

Each year this program provides outstanding individuals with freedom from their day jobs to:

  • open productive new lines of inquiry
  • ask provocative questions
  • challenge conventional wisdom
  • develop new ideas, approaches and strategies.

Fellows will each receive $120,000 for their 12-month commitment to the program and an additional $30,000 will be available to each Fellow for approved expenses such as work space, rent, travel and contracting of external expertise.

What are the Eligibility Criteria?

The applicant must:

  • be an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • reside in Australia for the majority of the Fellowship period
  • be prepared to take a sabbatical from their current role for 12 months
  • have a proven track record of risk-taking, out-of-the-box thinking
  • have an ability to turn ideas into action
  • have well-developed networks within an area of the proposed project.

The proposed project must:

  • be based in Australia
  • be aligned with one or more of the subject areas of poverty and disadvantage, sustainability and environment, or human, civil and legal Rights
  • have been in development for not longer than three years.

What are the Funding Exclusions?

The Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellowships program will not support the following:

  • benefits or fundraising events
  • capital or endowment campaigns
  • ongoing or one-off academic research or work towards higher degrees (including by coursework or dissertations)
  • medical research
  • initiatives focused on specific diseases
  • international projects
  • scholarships
  • sponsorships
  • funding hubs or accelerators
  • creative arts projects
  • collaborations between a number of individuals
  • projects that are focused on program or service delivery
  • projects that have been in development for more than three years
  • organisations.

Application Timeline

The 2021 Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellows will commence in May 2021. 

The 2022 Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellowship program is expected to open in mid-2021.  

Recent Awardees

2020 Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellows

David Pearson

David Pearson has a long history of policy and stakeholder management experience and led the design and development of an initiative to end rough sleeping homelessness in Adelaide. Through the Australian Alliance to End Homelessness, David is working on a national Advance to Zero campaign, designed to support local community efforts by providing actionable data to improve homelessness systems.

Eve Lester

Dr Eve Lester is a lawyer who has worked for over 25 years in Australia and internationally on the human rights of refugees and migrants. She produced a manual for monitoring conditions of immigration detention for UNHCR Geneva, which is now widely used by official immigration detention monitors. Eve is developing technology to transform how conditions in immigration detention and other closed environments are monitored.

Mikaela Stafrace

Following a successful commercial career, Mikaela Stafrace brought her learnings about cross-sectoral collaboration and peer-led solutions to complex problems to the development of The Placement Circle (TPC). TPC is dedicated to helping address the rising numbers of older women facing financial distress in their later years. TPC links communities of peer supported women to place-based vocational education and onto employment as a means of ensuring women and their families are less vulnerable to the risks of homelessness and poverty.


If you are invited to prepare a detailed application, you will have the opportunity to submit such materials.

We would consider a part-time Fellowship application in circumstances where the applicant has caring responsibilities. Applicants who wish to undertake the program part time whilst maintaining full, part-time, or casual employment would not be eligible.

The selection process is a multi-stage process taking place over a number of months. It is usually completed by the end of March each year, with new Fellows generally announced in May each year.

Fellows will be expected to provide a mid-term report to the Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellowships Committee via a personal presentation, and to provide a completion report to the Directors of The Myer Foundation, Trustees of the Sidney Myer Fund and the Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellowship Committee via personal presentation.

The Fellowship is a stipend that aims to cover the living expenses of the Fellow for the Fellowship year.

An amount up to $30,000 will be available to each Fellow to cover expenditure associated with the Fellowship such as renting an office space, travel, convening, or purchasing of external expertise. Applicants invited to prepare a detailed application will be asked to include an estimated project budget.

Expressions of Interest for the Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellowships 2021 have closed.

Applicants are asked to identify outputs and outcomes expected from their Fellowship as part of the detailed application process.

Fellows will have access to a Support Panel of experts, an individually matched mentor and specialist training in relevant areas. They will have access to The Myer Foundation and Sidney Myer Fund’s networks, support from program staff and the use, by arrangement, of our board room.

The main responsibility of each Fellow is to develop the various aspects of their project. We ask Fellows to commit to the Support Panel meetings and trainings offered and to provide collegiate support to each other where possible during their tenure. Upon completion we ask Fellows to participate in an alumni event and to respond to a short completion survey.

The Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellowships will not support the following projects or activities:

  • Ongoing or one-off academic research or work towards higher degrees
  • Social enterprise funding hubs or accelerators
  • Program or service delivery.

See also Funding Exclusions on the Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellowships page here

We will not generally support professional development as part of the Fellowship unless it will materially affect the development of the Fellow’s project.

Yes, Fellowship proposals may align with more than one of these areas.