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

19 June 2020Expressions of Interest open
by midnight AEST 16 August 2020Expressions of Interest close
Week beginning 30 November 2020Shortlisted candidates invited to prepare a detailed application
Midnight AEDT, 10 January 2021Closing date for detailed applications from shortlisted applicants
February 2021Interviews for selected candidates
March 2021Confirmation of 2021 Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellows

It is anticipated that the 2021 Kenneth Myer Innovation Fellows will commence in May 2021.

Expressions of Interest closed on 16 August 2020.

Following an assessment process, shortlisted candidates will be notified during the week beginning 30 November 2020 and invited to prepare a detailed application.

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.