Scots and Scottish culture has been an important part of Victorian and Australian history. The first migrant ship to arrive in Port Phillip in October 1839, the David Clark, had among its passengers’ men and woman named MacFarlane, Menzies, Stewart, MacDonald and MacKenzie.
These men and woman wanted to be part of establishing a new and better society than they left behind, and brought with them the rich heritage of Scottish culture and values born out of the ‘Scottish Enlightenment’. Values based on a unique combination of democratic and egalitarian attitudes and values of personal responsibility, belief in reason, religious freedom, the importance of education and enterprise. These values were formative influences on Australia and have helped shape modern-day Australia as we know it today.
A descendant of those first Scots was the late Geoffrey Donaldson AO. Brought up in the liberal minded Scottish traditions, and bearing a strong sense of personal responsibility and enterprise, he helped found Woodside Petroleum, and later became a philanthropist. As a proud Scot prior to his death in 2013, Geoffrey gave a bequest to establish a Foundation to help make sure Scottish traditions and values are maintained and promoted.
This gave birth to the Victorian Scottish Heritage Cultural Foundation (VSHCF). It is a registered not-for-profit charity that looks to support and promote Scottish culture in all its forms, but with a particular interest in secondary education and the arts.
The Foundation has sponsored a wide variety of projects including the Auld Lang Syne Exhibition at the Ballarat Art Gallery, The Robert Burns Camperdown Festival and Scots Bendigo Day Out, to name a few. It has also established Scottish piping and dancing scholarship programs, and assisted in buying equipment and dress for various Pipe bands and performance groups.
In recent years, the VSHCF has worked closely with the Scots of Victoria Coordinating Group (SOVCG), which looks to assist all Victorian Scottish organisations achieve their shared goals. The desire is to broaden the awareness of the Foundation, but more importantly bring Scots from all walks of life together and introduce others to the Scottish culture. The love of Scottish culture is not confined to those with a Scottish background.
The Melbourne Tartan Festival is a joint initiative by the VSHCF and SVCG, as well as members of the wider Scottish Community, to add another flavor to Melbourne’s wonderfully rich multicultural fabric, or in more Scottish terms ‘tartan’.
Victorian Scottish Heritage Cultural Foundation