The Foundation

Facts about the Foundation

The ACS Foundation provides work placement programs.

As an ACNC registered charitable organisation, the ACS Foundation provides work-placement programs for industry and private donors. By becoming a sponsor of the Foundation, donors can directly support the future of the Australian ICT industry while strategically building their work-ready graduate pipeline.

In the last 15 years, the ACS Foundation has:

  • Raised over $70 million in contributions towards Australia’s technology future.
  • Awarded over 7,500 scholarships to help students start their careers.
  • Partnered with over 150 donor companies to build industry capability.
  • Created student pathways from school to uni to jobs.
  • Integrated work and life experience within academic and university studies.
  • Enhanced the future of the ICT Profession
  • Established research grants and innovation building programs.

The ACS Foundation's two broad programs include:

  • Work Integrated Learning (WIL) Scholarships for university students:

    Where a donor organisation provides a scholarship for an undergraduate student to experience the real workplace on a part-time or full time basis over an extended period, up to 48 weeks.

  • Foundation Jobs for new IT professionals: Employment arrangements for entry-level ICT jobs.

  • The Big Day In for primary and high school students: Where articulate and passionate industry speakers meet with tech-focused school students to forge exciting pre-career connections.

  • Careers Foundation & Map for high school students: A visual representation of tech related jobs to assist students (years 8-12) in selecting the type of ICT career that is best for them.

How a WIL Scholarship Works

Flexible and pragmatic are the best words to describe the ACS F scholarship programs. Each organisation has the opportunity to construct the scholarship/internship model which best suits it and its various business units. Part time or full time, the length of the scholarship/internship, who sources the applicants (the company, the ACS F or a combination of both), and whether the scholarships are aimed at undergraduates or post graduates are examples of just some of the ways scholarships/internships might be “customised” for an organisation or particular business units within it. The ACS F scholarships are founded on flexibility, and the scholarships/internships are “owned” by the donor/partner organisation.

The normal process by which the WIL program works is:

  1. Once the donor makes the decision to proceed with a scholarship / internship, the ACS Foundation will raise a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the donor. Once the WIL requirements have been decided by the donor, the scholarship will be advertised either via the media, throughout the ACSF email lists, via academic focused emails, or all of the above.
  2. Applications will then be sought, sorted, and a short list compiled by the ACS Foundation, and forwarded to the organisation.
  3. The donor decides the level of involvement they wish to have in the interview and selection process, and interviews conducted. This can be done on the basis that the ACS Foundation doesn’t participate, does participate, or is responsible for the whole selection process. Our donors can “outsource” their Student selection process down to the short list completely to us, if required.
  4. Once the successful candidate/s have been selected, they sign the ACS Foundation Student Agreement. Undergraduate applicants have normally completed 2 years of their 3 year degree course, and when successful in their WIL scholarship application, they spend up to one year in the donor organisation, before returning to their University to complete the final year of their degree.
  5. The student is engaged with the organisation on the basis of a scholarship, which is paid to them regularly, and currently the favoured standard model is fortnightly over 52 weeks. The donor needs to ensure that the scholarship funds have been paid to the ACS Foundation in advance. The students are normally paid their scholarships via the University they are enrolled at.
  6. The students are offered to their donors on a “first right of refusal” basis for employment following graduation, assuming the student is willing to be employed by their donor. A recent survey showed that donors provided graduate employment offers to over 79% of students who completed a WIL scholarship with them.

ACS Foundation Responsibilities

Some responsibilities are clearly those of the ACS Foundation, and some which are those of the donor. These are determined and agreed when establishing the MOU. Those decisions are then documented and distributed to ensure that each party is clear as to the division of responsibilities, and the processes by which the arrangement will operate.

Donor Responsibilities

The main donor/partner responsibilities are determining and gaining internal approval for their scholarships/internships, mentoring and growing the student’s skills and experience while they are in their organisation, and assisting with establishing and documenting the objectives of their scholarship/internship period, and evaluation of the students performance during that period.

Cost of an ACS Foundation WIL Scholarship to the Donor

Each standard ACS F undergraduate WIL Scholarship/Internship will cost a donor $38,000 per year. Of this amount $32,000 (the exact amount is up to the discretion of the donor) is paid to the student on a fortnightly basis over 52 weeks. The scholarship/internship is tax free to the student assuming that the student doesn’t have an additional source of income. The remaining amount is used to cover administration related costs.

The Students are not employees of the donor organisation and as such do not incur the normal associated on-costs and overheads such as Workers Compensation, Sick Leave, Superannuation and Health Cover. Those that are appropriate are covered by the University, and blanket policies they hold.

Benefits to the Donor, ACS Foundation and the Graduates

The Donor/Partner

The Donor has the benefit of being able to evaluate their students over an extended period (“try before they buy”), and to make a decision on which students they feel would be most suited to offering a position in their graduate program. As such and on the basis of past experience and research, it is felt that this will result in employees with a much higher level of loyalty to the Donor/Partner, and that loyalty will translate into better staff retention and less turn-over of employees and a reduction in the significant costs associated with staff recruitment and turn-over.

ACS Foundation

The benefits to the ACS Foundation are that it continues to grow and increase its relevancy to the IT industry and the professionals within that industry. Growing an ever-increasing base of highly skilled IT individuals will be a benefit to the industry and the whole economy.

The Graduates

The benefits to the graduates include ensuring they graduate not only with their degree qualifications, but with one year’s relevant valuable industry experience. Research shows they gain better grades in their final year, and they have a better and more appreciated understanding of what is valued and required by their donor organisation and the industry.


The ACSF is a “value-adding” entity, seeking to ensure a high level of service and satisfaction to our partners. We work closely with our industry partners to meet their requirements and to develop and deliver graduates who are work ready and with industry relevant skills.

Many of our partners are front-ending their graduate programs with our WIL scholarship program, ensuring that the graduates who are offered positions within the organisation are fully familiar with the organisation, and are happy to be offered employment in the organisation.

The Board

The ACS Foundation is administered by its Trustees, who are empowered to make decisions relating to the allocation of funding and the strategic direction of the organisation:

John Debrincat, Chairman ACS Foundation

John is the founder, Managing Director and CEO of eCorner Pty Ltd; he is also the Managing Director of In House Consulting Pty Ltd.

John Debrincat has over 32 years of experience in business in the Asia Pacific. He is a Fellow of the Australian Computer Society, a member of the Company Directors Association, a member of the Australian Institute of Management and an Associate Member of Australian Human Resource Institute.

John is also an Honorary Life Governor and board member of Sydney University Foundation for Information Technologies.

Philip Argy, Deputy Chairman ACS Foundation

Philip Argy is an experienced mediator, arbitrator, negotiator and strategist and is Principal and CEO of He was with the law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques for nearly 32 years. Philip qualified at the University of New South Wales for a Bachelor of Commerce (Information Systems) degree in 1975 and a Bachelor of Laws the following year. He is a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Courts of New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria and Western Australia.

Philip is a Past President, Fellow and Honorary Life Member of the ACS as well as a past president and founding member of the NSW Society for Computers and the Law.

Karim Barbara

Karim Barbara has 25 years+ experience in the ICT Industry. He has contributed to ICT policy and industry development within a federal government context, to ICT market segmentation and niche development at a national level within Telstra and to the commercialisation of ICT IP within R&D and corporate environments.

Karim is a Co-founder and co-owner of CSN Technology Pty Ltd, a Cloud Services & Networking Start-up, and Managing Director of Barbara & Co Consulting Pty Ltd, focusing on the application of telecommunication and Information technologies to the Health, Aged Care and Social Services markets and is currently Program Director of the ‘Corporate Services 2018’ transformation initiative at the NSW Department of Family and Community Services.

Professor Anthony (Tony) C. WATSON

Emeritus Professor at Edit Cowan University

In 1994 Tony was appointed Foundation Professor of Computer Science at Edith Cowan University, Head of Department of Information Technology and Engineering, in 2002 he became Executive Dean Faculty Computing, Health and Sciences, and in 2010 Deputy Vice-Chancellor (International). Currently he is Emeritus Professor.

He has participated in the computing industry and academia for more than 40 years. He has had extensive involvement in tertiary international education since 1985 and undertaken consultancies, research projects and activities in Spain, France, Thailand, Korea, Singapore, UEA, Myanmar (Burma), China as well as Australia for ECU, Government and private sectors.

He is a Fellow of the ACS and an Honorary Life Member, and Chairman of the WA Chapter of the ACS Foundation.

He is a member of the Board of Intersective Pty Ltd, a director of the Australian Computer Society Foundation, and a director of Paili Consulting Pty Ltd.

Penny Coulter

Penny Coulter has 25+ years experience in IT recruitment covering contract, permanent recruitment and executive search, and an unparalleled network of contacts across the industry. In 2007, Penny together with her business partner created an IT recruitment services company, Taylor Coulter.

In 2002, Penny Coulter joined the Board of ITCRA (Information Technology Contracting Recruitment Association). In March 2004, Penny was appointed Vice President of ITCRA and in August 2004, elected President, a position she held for 4 years until August 2008. Penny remains a Board member and an active member of ITRA Committees.

In 2005, Penny became a member of an ICT Advisory Group assisting the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts (DCITA) in preparation of an ICT Participation Summit held September 2005. In 2006, she participated as an Industry Panel Expert (“Is ICT a Career?”) at the National ICT Skills Summit, hosted by Queensland Government and has presented “A Career in ICT, Now and the Future” to the ACS Young IT and to AIIA/FITT members.

John Price

John Price is a 30 year veteran of the ICT industry and a long time contributor to industry growth through his involvement with the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA). When he stood down from the AIIA Board in late 2007 John was the longest serving Board member (15 years) including three years as Chairman. He also spent 20 years on the NSW Branch Committee. John remains a mentor on the AIIA MGSM entrepreneur development program. He is a Fellow of the Australian Computer society (ACS) and Australian Institute of Directors (AICD) and current Board Member of the ACS Foundation.

John has a passion for the development of the ICT industry in particular Education and Training .

John Ridge AM, Executive Director

John Ridge was appointed Executive Director in January 2005.

John Ridge was the inaugural Chairman of the Foundation and was president of the ACS in 2000 and 2001. He worked tirelessly to ensure the ACS Foundation was established and has since played a substantial role in the successful development of the Foundation.

John was recognised for his contribution to IT by his being awarded with an Order for Australia award.

Since joining the ACS in the 1970s, John has served in varying capacities, initially as an Executive Committee Member of the NSW Branch, then serving as NSW Branch Chair, National Vice-President prior to his election as President for 2000-1 and more recently as National Marketing Director.

Dennis Furini

Dennis Furini was CEO of the ACS from 1999 - 2007, having joined the Society in September 1999 after 10 years with Sydney Water where he earned a reputation for strong leadership, effective management, quality focus, communications and customer skills.

He has over 35 years experience in the IT industry in a career that has encompassed a diverse range of positions and working environments.

Dennis began his professional life with Philips, where he spent 26 years in various national and international positions, including National Manager Information Systems and Automation. During the 1980s, he also established and managed a successful marketing and professional services business. He is a Fellow of the ACS.