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Fact sheet

Who we are

The Ross Trust is a perpetual charitable trust with a vision to create positive social and environmental change so Victorians can thrive. As a compassionate and responsive philanthropic leader, we want to enable young people in Victoria by giving them equitable access to education, so they can complete their secondary schooling regardless of their circumstances. We work with partners to ensure Victoria’s biodiversity is conserved, protected and valued by all as part of a healthy and resilient environment.

For further information, download a copy of our five-year strategy

Funding priorities

  • Educational Equity – enabling young people in Victoria equitable access to educational opportunities so they complete secondary schooling
  • Biodiversity Conservation – conserving and protecting Victoria’s biodiversity so it is valued by all as part of a healthy and resilient environment

The Ross Trust’s Biodiversity Conservation funding priority supports increased and coordinated biodiversity conservation actions and increased community support for conservation. It is informed by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 14 and 15, knowledge from our grantees, published research and sector expertise.

The Ross Trust Educational Equity funding priority is focused on improving educational attainment of Victorian children. It is informed by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 4, knowledge from our grantees, published research and sector expertise.

The Ross Trust owns Hillview Quarries, which generates income that is distributed to the Trust each year and distributed by the Trust as charitable grants.

The Ross Trust places high value on the relationship and mutual trust it builds with its grantees and remains committed to those relationships.

The Trust urges all applicants to read the Ross Trust Ethics Charter and undertake their own due diligence and ensure their ethical approach aligns with the Ross Trust before applying for a grant.

Leadership

  • Jeremy Kirkwood, Chair and Trustee
  • Prue Digby, Trustee
  • Geoff Nicholson, Trustee
  • Jenny Stephens, Trustee
  • Jon Webster AM, Trustee
  • Sarah Hardy, CEO

Trust facts

  • Current number of trust employees: six
  • Total grant payments since inception (up to FY 2019-20): $123.5 million
  • Grants paid 2019-20: $4.4 million
  • Total 2018-19 Direct Grantee Support: $4.1 million
  • Total 2017-18 Direct Grantee Support: $4.28 million
  • Total 2016-17 Direct Grantee Support: $4.2 million 

For more information see our annual reports.

The man behind the Trust

The Ross Trust was established in Victoria in 1970 by the will of Roy Everard Ross, who was born in regional Victoria in 1899 and was always a keen bushman. Ross was an astute investor and entrepreneur, who came from the land and was at various times a surveyor, local government engineer, naval officer and quarry owner. He studied and lived his later life in Melbourne. Much of his fortune was amassed on the back of investments in mining and the media. The philanthropic model developed by the inaugural Trustees – with all net profits from the quarry to go to charitable purposes to benefit vulnerable Victorians – was and is unique to this day.

Hillview Quarries

In 1959, Mr Ross founded Bayview Quarries and became Chairman of Directors. After its takeover by Boral Ltd in 1968, Roy Ross formed Hillview Quarries Pty Ltd to operate an existing quarry at Dromana. Hillview Quarries continues to be owned and operated by the Trust and generates income for distribution by the Trust as charitable grants.

The Ross Trust is the only trust in Australia which derives its income from the profits of a quarry.

Mr Ross knew the financial and infrastructure benefits of developing a quarry in Victoria – both to himself and others. He reconciled his love of plants and trees and passion for conservation with his quarry business. This is the same balance the Trust strives to achieve today and you will see this reflected in its priorities.

Hillview Quarries Pty Ltd is operated by the Ross Trust for the primary purpose of fulfilling its responsibilities under the will to generate income in perpetuity to be distributed for charitable purposes. 

After 50 years of operation the permitted reserves are nearing the end. Therefore, in May 2018, the Victorian Planning Minister approved a referral to undertake an Environmental Effects Statement (EES) to determine whether Hillview Quarries could re-commence and relocate its operations to the Boundary Road Quarry (a former Pioneer Quarry), also owned by the Ross Trust.

Read more about the project and ESS here.
If you want more background on the Boundary Road project, please explore this website

Geographic focus

The Ross Trust grants in Victoria, Australia, as per the wishes of the late Roy Everard Ross.

The original corpus of the Ross Trust comprised the whole of the Estate of Mr Roy Everard Ross, who left in his will a portfolio of assets including shares, real property and a quarry, today operating as Hillview Quarries. The quarry is located on the Mornington Peninsula and as such the Trust considers its support for this region as one of its higher priorities under the new strategy.

The Ross Trust is mindful of and acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which it operates and pays its respects to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Hillview Quarries operates on the lands of the Bunurong people, and the Trust acknowledges them as the Traditional Owners. The Ross Trust highly values the partnerships it has with First Nations Peoples on the Mornington Peninsula and across Victoria.

These communities include the many organisations across Victoria that approach the Trust for funding. The Trust values highly the relationships it builds with its grantees – it is through these relationships that it is able to make a measurable and positive difference to our community for the long term.

Grant types

Type of grants available:

  • Smart Grants: up to $40,000 per year for up to three years (online application)
  • Advocacy Grants: up to $50,000 per year for up to three years (by invitation only)
  • Challenge and Change Grants: $40,000 to $100,000 per year for up to three years (by invitation only)

Impact Investments

From time to time, the Ross Trust has engaged in impact investing aligned with our current strategy and funding priorities. 

Impact Investing Australia describes impact investments as ‘investments made into organisations, projects or funds with the intention of generating measurable social and environmental outcomes, alongside a financial return.’

The Ross Trust is currently invested in three impact investment initiatives which focus on affordable housing, environmental conservation, and educational engagement. If you would like to know more, please contact our CEO by email: information@rosstrust.org.au 

Illustrative grant commitments

Educational equity

  • SNAICC - National Voice for our Children $150,000 (over three years) 
    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander early childhood education – a collaborative advocacy approach. Read more.
  • Murdoch Children's Research Institute, $99,612 
    Prevention, early intervention and support for school-aged children with mental health issues: The specific challenges in regional and rural areas. Read more.
  • MacKillop Family Services, $120,000 (over three years) 
    Overcoming educational disadvantage through Therapeutic Life Story Work
  • Mornington Peninsula Foundation $200,000 
    Learning Guarantee Project -support from primary to secondary school transition in Western Port. Read more.

Biodiversity conservation

  • Biolinks Alliance $300,000 (over three years) 
    Collaborative landscape-scale project
  • Euroa Arboretum $84,600 (over three years) 
    Mentoring young naturalists
  • Invasive Species Council $150,000 (over three years)
    Stemming feral deer impacts
  • The Nature Conservancy $287,223 (over two years) 
    Shellfish reef restoration. Read more.

Impact investments

  • Women’s Property Initiatives – in 2015 the Ross Trust made a $200,000 impact investment loan to Women’s (WPI). WPI is a not for profit organisation that exists to help at risk women and their children to have access to more affordable and stable housing.
  • Wildlife Wonders – in 2018 a $500,000 impact investment loan to the Conservation Ecology Centre in Victoria’s Otways, to enable the purchase of the 20-hectare property running from the road to the sea, five minutes west of Apollo Bay. Read more
  • Living Learning – in 2020 a $500,000 commitment to Melbourne City Mission’s Living Learning Program (LLP). The LLP supports 15-25 years old young people who have disengaged from school with mental health challenges, to return to flexible learning, complete Year 12, and identity a positive path forward. Read more.

Photo: teacher and students from Crib Point Primary School