Deakin donor wins Philanthropy Award

Deakin news

17 April 2024

Melbourne businessman and Deakin University donor Michael Drapac was awarded Philanthropy Australia's Inclusion Award at a ceremony on 16 April.

Michael's donation was used to establish The Damion Drapac Centre and Damion Drapac Scholarships, aimed at advancing socially inclusive medical education.

Philanthropy Australia is a national peak body that seeks to inspire individuals and businesses to make positive change.

Their annual awards showcase, held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, recognised achievements in philanthropy across categories including collaboration, community, environment and more.

Michael is the first of Deakin's donors to receive recognition from the Australian Philanthropy Awards. In winning the Inclusion Award, Michael has been recognised for his efforts at working towards equality and equity, which was reflected in his generous overall donation of $6.3 million to establish the Damion Drapac Centre and scholarships.

The Damion Drapac Centre: Advancing Equity in Health Professional Education is named in honour of Mr Drapac's son Damion, who was a 30-year-old Deakin medical graduate when he was tragically killed while riding his bike on Anzac Day, 2019.

The Centre and accompanying scholarship supports students from medically under-represented communities to gain entry into the Doctor of Medicine.

Dean of Deakin's School of Medicine, Professor Gary Rogers, said the Damion Drapac Centre widens access to medical training for students from diverse backgrounds, including those from rural and regional areas, LGBTQIA+ communities, people living with disability, financial hardship and from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

‘Traditionally, doctors in Australia have come from a very narrow social spectrum', Professor Rogers said. 'Michael's gift enables Deakin to make real its promise to the community to recruit from more diverse backgrounds that more closely resemble our society.

Deakin Distinguished Professor Rachel Huxley, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health, said that by establishing the Damion Drapac Centre brought the Faculty even closer to Deakin’s values of diversity and inclusion.

'We are truly grateful to Michael and his family for supporting the Faculty of Health’s vision for inclusivity and we are honoured to carry Damion’s name on.'

Michael Drapac said that his son Damion was an incredibly motivated young man who initially studied nutrition sciences and then attempted the rigorous selection process for medical school three times before finally being accepted.

The accident that took his life occurred within a year of graduating from medical school. Setting up the Centre in his honour was a way of ensuring Damion is remembered for the values of equality that he shared.

‘We have a wonderful healthcare system in Australia but deficiencies still exist, often jeopardising the health and wellbeing of marginalised and underrepresented communities,' said Michael.

‘Partnering with Deakin to address these issues while also providing pathways to medical education for people who have a true vocation to be a doctor has been fulfilling and inspiring. Receiving Philanthropy Australia's Inclusion Award is a clear reminder that we’re on the right path, but we still have a lot of work to do.'

Damion Drapac Centre and Scholarships (

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