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Country Education Foundation of Orange & Districts

Findex Community Fund

Australian National University (ANU)

International Relations and Development Studies

Ben Blanch grew up in Orange in the NSW Central Tablelands in a ‘pretty hectic household.’ His mother and father both work for the local Evangelical church, and he has three sisters and a brother.

With his upbringing, it is no surprise that Ben is taking every opportunity to grow and to help others.

I still return to Orange from Canberra to see my folks and friends from high school a few times a year, which is really nice


Ben was introduced to CEF by his year 12 advisor after he told her he was worried about the financial and social challenges of moving away for study.

Like many regional students, Ben says that moving away from home to a place where he had zero connections was stressful and he definitely had concerns.

Ben knows it is crucial to support rural and regional students to achieve and be the best they can be, and understands first-hand how CEF works to remove the financial barriers that can seem scary and daunting.

To high school students in the country thinking about higher education he says, ‘if you think it’s a good decision, go for it.” He also reminds them you don’t have to move to the big smoke – there are also many regional universities out there.

Everyone at CEF is so open and willing to help – these grants can go a long way to helping set you up for the future

He says the grant and scholarship he received thanks to the Country Education Foundation of Orange & Districts and the Findex Community Fund were extremely helpful. It allowed him to live on campus and provided a host of opportunities to make friends, find his feet and settle into uni life.

Ben is now living in a share house in Canberra, in his second year of study at the Australian National University (ANU). A talented and passionate musician, he originally started studying Public Relations and Music, but this year changed from Music to Development Studies, showing his passion for understanding challenges and helping others.

Living in such close quarters gives such unique opportunities to get to know a diverse range of people and expose myself to some incredibly transformative friendships


When he is not studying Ben works part-time as a disability support worker. This is something he would love to keep doing, and only had the opportunity to take on the job because he took the plunge and moved to Canberra.

He loves advocating for people with disabilities and helping them to become more autonomous.

Ben also gives back by volunteering as a tutor for the Regional Education Support Network (RESN). The network provides extra academic assistance for rural and regional senior high school students, an opportunity Ben is all too aware they may not always be able to afford otherwise.

I never imagined being a disability support worker! This job has been truly transformative and I’m very privileged to be able to advocate for the inclusion of persons with a disability

Despite the challenges of moving away from home and having to find his way in a new place, Ben continues to help others in so many ways, and is a true reflection of the big hearts that are raised in the country.


Best playlist for concentrating?
I’m a big fan of listening to jazz when I study, so anything by Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band

Favourite place for coffee?
Gang Gang Café – it’s in a quiet neighbourhood so it’s a great place to relax

Last book you read?
It was ‘Guards, Guards, Guards’ by Terry Pratchett – an absolutely hysterical read.

How would you spend your last $10?
Unfortunately, late night study sessions have given me a crippling addiction to white magnums – so definitely those (and not he white chocolate and strawberry cream ones)!

If you could start a study group with any five people, dead or alive, who would they be?
Terry Pratchett
Taika Waititi
Richard Ayoade
Herbie Hancock
Gurbanguly Bernimuhamedow – the President of Turkmenistan


Author nicole

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