6 Jul 2020 5:00PM
Lilly Luhrmann is a young woman of conviction. She is deeply concerned by the lack of support international students have received during COVID-19 from the Australian Government and as such has partnered with the State Government to launch the Study Queensland Luhrmann Appeal.
Lilly is the daughter of film director Baz Luhrmann and designer Catherine Martin, creators of hit films Strictly Ballroom, Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby, and has been based on the Gold Coast since late last year when her parents began working on their latest project, a biopic on the life of Elvis Presley which stars Tom Hanks.
When I ask Lilly why she feels so strongly about the current situation she replies: “I’m an international student myself. I’m studying at the High School of Fashion Industries in New York.” Given Lilly’s showbusiness pedigree you could be mistaken for thinking that this particular school is an exclusive domain of the wealthy, but Lilly quickly dispels any such notion.
“It’s a public school where 95 per cent of students are Hispanic or African-American. I’m the only Australian student.”
Lilly’s connection to international education goes back generations. “There’s a history of international study that goes back to my grandfather who met my grandmother as an international student in Paris – if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be here now.”
When the pandemic broke out Lilly was unable to return to school in New York and it was during her own displacement when she began to realise how tough international students were doing here. It was then that she decided to use her profile to draw attention to their cause.
“I’m trying to create momentum through the media to get corporate Australia to contribute to the appeal. The money will go directly to international students seeking relief because of COVID-19.”
To ensure the funding achieves the highest possible impact Lilly has been regularly liaising with Study Queensland’s Student Advisory Panel. “My main focus is: what kinds of programs will help students most? From Go Cards to meal vouchers and laptops to blankets it’s a long process and I need to know how we can best help them.”
Lilly has also been investing a lot of her time speaking to students on the ground to better understand their circumstances. When she visited the Gold Coast Student Hub recently she met a number of students who had been experiencing hardship.
“One of the students told me that without Study Gold Coast’s help he would be homeless right now. Seeing the programs you’re running for students here has opened my eyes as to how much you can actually do. It’s really inspiring.”
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