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Trust Updates

Catherine Walter AM steps down as Chair, Bruce Parncutt AO takes the reins, and Professor John Daley AM joins Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

13 December 2023

“When I was appointed Chair, trustees were committed to continuing the visionary work of those who had come before us” said Catherine. “We followed in the footsteps of founder Helen Macpherson Smith, multi decadal Chair Darvell Hutchinson AM, predecessor Chair Dr Philip Moors AO and earlier trustees in responding to the persistent challenges faced by Victorian communities. Over the past nine years we have remained focused on strategic grantmaking and astute investing, supporting the Trust’s vision for a ‘strong, just and sustainable Victoria’.”

As a distinguished and highly experienced company director, Catherine’s contribution to the Trust and granting partners over the years has been significant. Under her stewardship, the Trust has upheld ambitious investment objectives, generating income to ensure support for Victorian communities in need.

One such community is that supported by Western Chances, an organisation dedicated to helping youth in Melbourne’s west realise their potential by providing scholarships, opportunity programs and ongoing support.

“Western Chances began awarding scholarships in 2004 and has invested more than $9 million in young people, supporting over 3,750 scholarship recipients,” explains founding Chair Terry Bracks AM. “We couldn’t support so many talented students without the generous support of organisations such as the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust. It has been a privilege and joy to work with Cathy over these years and I wish her all the very best as she steps down”.

Catherine will be succeeded by Bruce Parncutt AO, who was appointed as a Trustee in 2018. Bruce has extensive board experience across public, private and for purpose organisations including as a board member of Australian Stock Exchange and The Australian Ballet and President of the Council of Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria.

Bruce takes up the role of Chair following five years’ service as a Trustee. Bruce played an integral role in the Trust’s 2022 strategy review ensuring the new strategy has a sharp focus on contributing to meaningful improvement in the lives of Victorians experiencing disadvantage, and their communities.

“The 2023-2025 strategy responds to the ever-increasing needs of the Victorian community and exercises the unique strengths of the Trust,” reflects Bruce. “This new direction sees the Trust take a long-term view on grant making and focuses our effort on addressing educational disadvantage and building capacity, capability and connection in community. It is an honour and privilege to step into the role of Chair of the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust”.

Professor John Daley AM joins Helen Macpherson Smith Trust as Trustee. Professor Daley is Professorial Fellow at Melbourne Law School and one of Australia’s leading public policy thinkers. He was inaugural Chief Executive of the Grattan Institute, where he published leading reports on institutional reform, trust in government, government priorities, budget policy, tax reform, intergenerational equity, retirement incomes and housing affordability.

John is a partner at EY Port Jackson Partners, and the Chair of the Australian National Academy of Music. He has also worked at the Department of Premier and Cabinet, Victoria, and at McKinsey and Co, and was a senior executive at ANZ Bank.

Reflecting on the changes at the Trust, Chief Executive Officer Debra Morgan said “As the Trust moves into this new era I thank Cathy for her valuable contribution to the work of the Trust over the last nine years. She leaves the Trust well positioned to advance Helen’s legacy of supporting Victorian communities under our revised strategy”.