The Trustees are supported by Trust staff and external advisers who provide professional accounting, investment and legal services. The Trust’s accounts are audited externally each year. A copy of the audited accounts is provided to the Attorney-General of Victoria, together with a report by the Trustees on their work during the year.
Each of the five Trustees holds two half shares in a nominee company, R E Ross Nominees Pty Ltd. All five Trustees are Directors of that company which is the nominal owner of the assets of The R E Ross Trust. The company employs the staff of The R E Ross Trust, including the Trust’s Chief Executive Officer, who is responsible for the management of the Trust.
The Trust’s Chief Executive Officer is selected by the Trustees. The Company Secretary of each of the Trust’s subsidiaries is selected by the Directors. The current Chief Executive Officer also holds the office of Company Secretary and Mr Paul Read is Assistant Company Secretary.
Responsibilities of the Trustees
The main responsibilities of the Trustees are set out in the provisions of the will and the Trustee Act 1958 (Vic). Responsibilities include:
- Administration of the Trust, including the employment of staff and other services that Trustees deem “necessary or desirable in carrying out the trusts of [the] will”, the expenses of which may be met from the income of the Trust;
- Investment of the funds of the Trust, including holding these investments in the name of a custodian trustee for which purpose the Trustees may form a company, R E Ross Nominees Pty Ltd, the expenses of which may be met from the income of the Trust; and
- Payment and application of the income of the Trust to charities or for charitable purposes.
In their capacities as Trustees of The R E Ross Trust and as directors of R E Ross Nominees Pty Ltd, Hillview Quarries Pty Ltd and Peninsula Waste Management Pty Ltd, the Trustees also have responsibilities under a number of Victorian and Commonwealth laws, including corporations, industrial, environmental and taxation laws.
The present Trustees consider their responsibilities to also include:
- Pay and apply the Trust’s income to achieve positive impacts for public benefit (will and Trustees’ decisions);
- Treat applicants and recipients of Trust grants fairly and consistently (guidelines); and
- Make information publicly available on the basis of Trustees’ granting decisions (annual report), audited annual accounts and grants made each year.
The original corpus of the Trust comprised the whole of the Estate of Mr Ross after the deduction of bequests, expenses and probate duties. The assets may not be distributed but must be managed to generate income for charitable granting and activities. One of the Trust’s assets which was part of the original corpus is Hillview Quarries Pty Ltd. The quarry is located at Dromana and provides a significant proportion of the income of the Trust. The Trust also has a portfolio of shares and other marketable securities which are managed externally by professional fund managers. Further details about the Trust’s investments are provided in the Annual Report.
Income and its distribution as grants
Mr Ross provided for the Trust to distribute its income to charities and for charitable purposes. While he expressed a number of wishes as to these purposes, he gave his Trustees the discretion to make all granting decisions.
Mr Ross’ wishes were that his Trustees, “having regard to the circumstances prevailing from time to time give consideration to the desirability of the provision of funds for the education and maintenance of foreign students in Australia and for the acquisition, preservation and maintenance of national or public park, particularly the protection and preservation of flora and fauna”.
The Trustees have granting policies and support projects which have regard to Mr Ross’ wishes. Policies and projects are varied from time to time to respond to changing circumstances, and to enable the Trust’s income to contribute effectively to public benefit mainly in Victoria.
Gifts and Bequests
The Trust has the capacity to manage new funds contributed by gifts or bequests, prospective donors or their advisers can contact the Trust’s CEO for further information.
The Trust is a Tax Concession Charity (TCC)