Rhodes Scholar on mission to curb domestic violence

Saturday, 1 December 2018

Arts student Isobel Phoebe Montgomery has risen from adversity to become the latest University of Adelaide student to win the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship – an opportunity she will use to help victims of domestic and family violence.

As a child, Isobel Phoebe witnessed domestic and family violence and has also experienced poverty.

Now aged 24, and with an outstanding academic record at the University of Adelaide, Isobel Phoebe has received one of only three Australia-at-Large Rhodes Scholarships offered each year to study at Oxford University.

Isobel Phoebe has become the University of Adelaide's 111th Rhodes Scholar in the 110 years the scholarship has been awarded in Australia.

Having already graduated with a Bachelor of Media and Bachelor of Arts (History and English), Isobel Phoebe has just completed her Honours in Arts with a major in history.

She credits higher education with helping her to "triumph over my difficult early life".

"Due to my own experiences, I hope to become an example to other young women struggling to overcome adversity," she says.

While studying at the University of Adelaide, Isobel Phoebe undertook an Arts internship with Women’s Safety Services SA, working on a research project that investigated the effective use of social media by domestic violence organisations.

Her internship not only fuelled her own passion for helping those affected by violence, it also resulted in her being offered employment. She has now worked at Women’s Safety Services SA for the past two years while completing her university studies.

At Oxford, Isobel Phoebe plans to study for an MPhil (Master of Philosophy) in Evidence-Based Social Intervention and Policy Evaluation.

"I want to use this opportunity to contribute to the domestic violence sector," she says.

"With a focus on child and family interventions, I'm planning to research the effectiveness of current domestic and family violence approaches in South Australia.

"Frequently, our ability to affect real change is hampered by the focus of policy on crisis support. I believe that an evidence-based approach can vitally inform policy that supports early intervention, and lead to sustained action against gender-based violence in Australia," Isobel Phoebe says.

The University of Adelaide's Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Rathjen, was himself the Rhodes Scholar for South Australia in 1985 and has personally congratulated Isobel Phoebe for her scholarship success.

Professor Rathjen says: "I congratulate Isobel Phoebe on becoming the University of Adelaide’s 111th Rhodes Scholar. This is an exciting and rewarding opportunity for any young student, and I wish her the very best for her journey ahead to Oxford.

"Isobel Phoebe is a perfect example of the transformative power of higher education.

"My own personal experience of the Rhodes brought me in contact with experts and students from across the globe, opening my eyes to new thinking and new possibilities. But the Rhodes also me helped me to understand something very important: that the education I’d received at the University of Adelaide was as good as the best institutions anywhere in the world. This was a revelation to me; my studies in Adelaide had prepared me well for making the most of everything the Rhodes offered.

"I’m sure that Isobel Phoebe will also reflect on her time in Adelaide – not only on the quality of her education, but the internship undertaken as part of her studies that has brought her closer to the community, and broadened her understanding of her chosen field. I have no doubt she will be an outstanding ambassador for both South Australia and an Adelaide education," Professor Rathjen says.

The Rhodes Scholarship perpetuates the commitment to learning, research and humanity of businessman and philanthropist Cecil Rhodes, who died in 1902, leaving his estate to fund the Scholarship.

Candidates are selected on the basis of outstanding intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service. The Rhodes Scholarships support students who demonstrate strong propensity to emerge as 'leaders for the world’s future'.


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