The intriguing story of Australia’s Public Trustees

Honour, resilience, scandal, sustainability and the history of Australia's Public Trustees

The office of the Public Trustee

The Creation of Trust reveals the rich history of Australia’s Public Trustees and Craig Dent casts a rarely-seen light on their often misunderstood purpose, services and contribution to society. Craig is an alumnus of the Harvard Business School and Swinburne University and The Creation of Trust is his first book. Here he reveals his insights into researching and writing The Creation of Trust.

Why did you write this book?

In February 2014 I began researching State Trustees’ history to assist with informing a series of external presentations. It became apparent that what was thought to be known about State Trustees was inconsistent and in conflict with other knowledge of State Trustees, rendering State Trustees’ corporate history confused, incomplete and unable to be leveraged for the benefit of the organisation.

In writing the corporate history of State Trustees, it increasingly required a deeper and broader context, which led to the necessity to write the history of the Australian Public Trustee sector and its origins.

The purpose of the book is to address the inaccurate, incomplete and inconsistent understanding of State Trustees and the Public Trustee sector more broadly.

Often the role of Public Trustees is misunderstood – do you think The Creation of Trust will help change this?

The very purpose of writing this book is to remove the misinformation and lack of understanding about the role of Public Trustees. The Creation of Trust, openly talks about the sector’s creation, its evolution, its challenges and the benefit that Public Trustees provide to the community.

What has had the greatest effect on your development as a writer?

I have found that my enjoyment of writing has increased immensely, while there has been moments of sheer frustration, it has overall been very enjoyable and cathartic.

How did you approach researching the history of Australia’s Public Trustees?

Overall, I utilised a Qualitative Research method to underpin the significant amount of historical research that was required. The significant amount of research required was compounded by the discovery that the other States and Territories had incomplete, if any, information that could be relied upon. Having established what information was available, and concluding what information I needed, the pursuit to fill those gaps was one of the most significant challenges in bringing this book to life.

The time and effort required to research and write this book not only became challenging, but also far more demanding than anticipated, ultimately taking nearly three years of weekends, holidays and nights to complete.

What do you hope people will take away with them after reading The Creation of Trust?

For those who work within the sector, a sense of pride in realising the history, challenges and changes those before them have had to manage through, also for those who are clients of or have an interest in the sector, that the Creation of Trust provides an insight into the valuable role of Public Trustees throughout Australia.

Writing styles vary greatly. How do you approach your writing?

I developed a way of structuring the work, with an initial outline, sub headings/themes I wanted to draw out and would then set about filling those gaps. Once done, it most often then lead to wanting to further develop or highlight specific items or stories to bring the reader into the relevant period.

Did you write something each day or allocate certain times to write?

I found that I need to take advantage of those infrequent windows in time where I could sit quietly and write away – this was most often at night or while on holidays.

Tell us something about the Office of the Public Trustees that you learnt during research and writing of The Creation of Trust?

I was very confronted by the language and treatment of those who had a mental illness or a disability. Equally, the treatment of this nation’s first people was troubling. Whilst we hear, read and see the inequality of life in this great country still remains true today, rediscovering this through the research disturbed me. We must do better by this nation’s first people and we must do better by those who need help, those who are vulnerable or simply have no one else to trust in.

What surprised you most about writing the book?

Ultimately, just how long it takes to complete a book of this nature and the sheer amount of research and writing and editing that it demands.

Peter Garrett has written the foreword for The Creation of Trust. How did that come about?

Peter has a direct family connection with the sector. Peter’s great grandfather, the test cricketer Thomas William Garrett, served as the first Public Trustee for the State of New South Wales. I recall discovering this and at the time thought, how terrific it would be to have Peter write the foreword for the book, never really thinking that this would happen, but it did and I am very thankful to Peter for taking time out of his busy schedule to read the manuscript and write a fantastic foreword.

Do you aspire to write more books?

Yes, there are three books at different stages developing in the background.

All profits from the sale of The Creation of Trust will be donated to the State Trustees Australia Foundation.
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