Julius Colman – Lawyer, Businessman, Philanthropist

Attended Elwood High School 1958 – 1963

Julius Colman, AM, has an LL.B, an LL.M, a B.A and is a FAPI. He plays poker on the international circuit and gives all his winnings (more than $US1m to date), to his educational charity, the Colman Foundation, which is supporting education and community in disadvantaged areas around Victoria.

“Elwood High from 1958 -1963 was an amazing school. Electric. A cauldron of kids from disparate backgrounds, poor, refugee, local - most striving to succeed, whether scholastically or at football or at soccer or on the stage. The sort of background that generates success when mixed with talented teachers."

After completing his secondary schooling at Elwood College and a law degree at Melbourne University, Julius Colman became a partner in a Melbourne law firm which then started a property syndication entity, MCS Property. By 2003, MCS Property had grown into a $1.5 billion company and was purchased by the listed Centro group. Julius was then involved in starting up – and eventually listing - the aged care entity Japara Limited. In this period Julius and his wife set up the Colman Foundation, an educational charity seeking to help with the educational needs of disadvantaged children across the state.

The initial partnership between Colman Foundation and the State Government was around a public school in Doveton. This demonstrated outstanding success in both education and community. As a result, in 2017, a formal partnership around 10 schools was created between the Government and the foundation. The initial $5m commitment from the Colman Foundation to the partnership around Doveton College, was a first for an Australian philanthropic organisation.

The commitment has now grown to more than $30m to the 10 schools, together with $10m in infrastructure, part of which is being supported by other like-minded philanthropic foundations.

This will mean that thousands of students and families will benefit from dedicated local service co-ordinators and community engagement officers, first-rate early childhood facilities and increased opportunities for adult education. This partnership is known as “Our Place” and “brings together the resources children and families need to thrive – integrating high quality early learning, effective schooling, health and community services, and adult education, training and employment support in ways that meet the needs and help fulfil the aspirations of the community… at the local school.”

Julius’s work with the disadvantaged children and communities was recognized in 2015, when he was awarded an AM in the General Division of the Order of Australia.

Julius attributes his passion for education to the “brilliant” years he spent at Elwood College, where there was a mix of migrants, refugees and students of all religions and where he learned that education truly was “the key to the door”.