When the Australian Institute of Parks and Recreation (predecessor to Parks and Leisure Australia) established a Trust Fund – Education on 8 February 1974, it had no particular project in mind, but a general desire that the Institute should make a long-term investment in the future of the parks and recreation professions.
The purpose of the Trust Fund was specified as “the furtherance of public educational and scientific or research purposes allied so far as is reasonably practicable with the objects of the Institute”. The relevant “objects” of the Institute include references to “public parks, botanic gardens, zoological gardens, national parks, cemeteries, open spaces, recreation and leisure services, facilities and programs”. Education referred to “courses at trade, technical and professional levels for the training of personnel involved in the profession of parks and recreation management”.
The Founders, members of the Federal Council of the Institute, were elder statesmen of the Institute: Jack Firth, Frank Keenan, Arthur Wood and Gordon Shearwood. The Founders commissioned three Trustees Dr David Churchill, Jim Sullivan and Noel Lothian, also towering figures in the profession, to develop the Fund in accordance with the Trust Deed.
During the 1980s and 1990s, the Trustees grappled with the challenge of identifying a suitable project that would fulfil the intentions of the Founders, having some enduring influence in developing the knowledge base of the profession, while satisfying the Australian Taxation Office which had granted tax deductibility for donations.
The Trustees recognised that to obtain a sufficiently large pool, the fund would need to be aggressively advertised and industry requested to make significant contributions. However, the Trustees also noted that projects with a commercial value that might attract matching funding from industry would lie outside the Trust Deed. By 2017, only about $1200 had been received per year since establishment.
A grant of $600 was made to the University of New England in 1987/1988 to cover part of the costs of doctoral research by Institute member Mrs Elizabeth Beckmann relating to environmental interpretation in Australian national parks and reserves.
Also, three contributions of $5000 each were paid to the Churchill Trust Fund for special fellowships. The first was awarded in 1988 to South Australian Ranger Mike Harper “to study methods and developments in the management of wetlands and waterfowl in USA”. (In 2009 Mike was awarded the Public Service Medal for outstanding public service in the conservation and restoration of South Australia’s wetlands and in environmental management). The 1990 award went to Queensland Maritime Estate Management Officer Geoff Kelly “to study public education techniques applied in marine reserves to enhance the educational, recreational and inspirational value of those places to the public”. The 1992 award was to New South Wales teacher James Smith “to study the greenways of the USA with a view to assisting in the growth of an Australian greenways network”.
Founding Trustee David Churchill resigned in 1989, Jim Sullivan in 1992. Trevor Arthur and Ken Trafford were added on 17 September 1987 and David Aldous on 9 May 1996. Ray Steward and Peter Nicholls were added on 9 May 1998 and Dr Anne Binkley in 1999. Noel Lothian passed away in 2004, Trevor Arthur (Chair) in 2009 and David Aldous in 2013.
The four current Trustees have selected a project – PaRC – worthy of the vision of the Institute’s founders. Charles Sturt University agreed to administer the project on behalf of the Trustees. The Collection will aim to secure for posterity the accumulated knowledge of past generations of parks and leisure personnel.