The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) decided to set up a Benevolent Trust Fund in 1981. The object was to raise funds, as the UK Society of Authors had done, in order to assist writers who were ‘in necessitous circumstances’ because of age, illness or accident. The Fund was to be administered by the Trustees, according to the Trust document. Money raised could be paid as a loan or grant to needy authors at the discretion of the Trustees.

Nancy Keesing, a dedicated member of the ASA, initially donated  $5000 to the Fund. With Geoffrey Serle, she channelled a further $38,255 from the Australian Literary Fund to the Trust Fund. By the end of 1992 the Fund had $71,758 in assets.

The Writers Benevolent Fund, as it is now known, currently manages just over $300,000 dollars in assets and makes grants from interest earned on the invested capital. Over the past few years, payments have been made to assist writers with pressing debts, medical expenses, rental obligations, supplements to pensions, nursing home expenses, wheelchairs and funeral expenses.

Applications for assistance

Australian authors can apply to the Fund for assistance. To fulfil their obligations under the law, the Trustees ask for some details about the author’s circumstances and their particular needs. Applicants can complete a simple form (Word or PDF) and, if they wish, discuss their situation with the Administrator of the Trust. All inquiries and applications are confidential. Under the Trust’s Privacy Policy, the Fund is committed to protecting the privacy of contacts and applicants.

Raising Funds

The Trustees appeal to authors and others who value Australian writers and writing to contribute to the Fund.  Donations are tax deductible and can be set to the Trustee Administrator,  Writers Benevolent Fund, 43/61 Marlborough St, Surry Hills NSW 2010. The Trustee Administrator can be contacted by email at writersbenevolentfund@gmail.com or by phone: (02) 9318 2900.