History of the Evatt Foundation

41 years of public activism

The Evatt Foundation was established in 1979 as a memorial to Dr Herbert Vere Evatt with the aim of advancing the highest ideals of the labour movement: equality, democracy, social justice and human rights. For 41 years, the Foundation has been helping to promote these ideals through research, publications, public discussion and debate.

The Evatt Foundation was launched in the Great Hall of the University of Sydney on 27 September 1979. Before a large audience of supporters. inspirational speeches were made by (in order): Sir Richard Kirby, the inaugural President of the Evatt Foundation, Sir Zelman Cohen, Governor-General of Australia, Neville Wran, QC MP, Premier of New South Wales, Bill Hayden, MP, Leader of the Federal Labor Party, Hal Missingham, former Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Bob Hawke, President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, and Faith Bandler, leader of the successful campaign to remove discriminatory provisions of the Constitution in the 1967 referendum on Aboriginal Australians. The vote of thanks was moved by Gough Whitlam, AC QC, former Prime Minister of Australia.

To encourage the Foundation to pursue its objectives, major grants were awarded by the New South Wales Government, the Tasmanian Government and other public and private bodies, including trade unions and business enterprises. From 1984 to 1999 the Foundation received an annual grant from the Commonwealth Government and was managed by a full-time executive director. Since 1999, the chief executive role has been undertaken by an executive member in an honorary capacity. From inception, the position —  known as executive director or secretary —  has been filled with distinction by Tjerk Dusseldorp, John Scott-Murphy, Peter Botsman, John Freeland, Jeannette McHugh, Chris Gambian, Monika Wheeler, Anna York, Eamon Waterford, Erin Watt and Clara Edwards.

Over the years, the Foundation has been located in the Chief Secretary's Building (Macquarie Street, Sydney), the New South Wales Labour Council building, on the campus of the University of New South Wales, and in the Sydney Trades Hall. In keeping with its origins, and Dr Evatt's own career as a brilliant student, the Foundation has been affiliated with the University of Sydney since 2007. 

Over the past 41 years, the Evatt Foundation has established a prominent public profile through its education program of seminars, conferences and publications. A major reason for the Foundation's success has been the support of its loyal membership base. The guiding hand of the institution's policy direction and management has always been the Executive Committee. A booklet commemorating the 40th anniversary is available as a free download.  

The first Evatt Foundation Executive Committee (1979-1981)


Sir Richard Kirby


Professor Manning Clark

Executive Committee Members

Terry Higgins (Public Officer), Charles Wright, Rosalind Carrodus, Franka Arena, Lee Patterson and Jim Bayutti.

Subsequent Evatt Foundation Committee Members

Presidents (1982-2019)

Cliff Dolan, the Hon. Tom Uren, Bruce Childs, Christopher Sheil, and Rose Jackson.

Vice-Presidents (1982-2019)

Professor Manning Clark (1979-1991), the Hon Neville Wran, the Hon. Justice Elizabeth Evatt, Michael Easson, Faith Bandler, Terry Higgins, Professor Ted Wheelwright, Professor Jim Hagan, Professor Sol Encel, the Hon. Joan Kirner, Peter Robson, the Hon. Brian Howe, Sandra Moait, Tom McDonald, Ann Catling, the Hon. Ron Dyer, Adam Kerslake, Rae Cooper, the Hon. Penny Sharpe, the Hon. Peter Primrose, Professor Frank Stilwell, and the Hon. John Graham.

Executive Committee Members (1982-2019)

Penelope Seidler, Justice Gerard Brennan, Justice Phil Evatt, Senator Doug McClelland, Alan Renouf, Jack Dusseldorp, Kim Williams, Jim Falk, Robin Gurr, the Hon. Andrew Refshauge, Bill Leslie, Tom Kelly, Charles Wright (Public Officer), Kerry Schott, Race Mathews, Leslie Fallick, Anna Booth, Chris Christodoulou, the Hon. Bob Debus, David Haynes, Stephen Mills, Senator Graham Maguire, Suzanne Jamieson, Tom McDonald, Victoria Rubensohn, John Langmore (Public Officer), Peter Robson, Wendy Caird, Senator George Campbell, Jenny Macklin MP, Pat Staunton, Jeannette McHugh, the Hon. Brian Howe, Sandra Moait, Sharan Burrow, Doug Cameron, Professor Roy Green, Professor Stuart Macintyre, the Hon. Carmel Tebbutt, Julie Crane, Chris Gambian, Joanne Smith, Sue Tracy, Roberta Ryan, Richard Gartrell, Rae Cooper, Tony Moore, Professor Frank Stilwell, Rowanne Couch, Christopher Sheil, Tom Morton, Warwick McDonald, Mark McGrath, Fay Gervasoni, the Hon. Penny Sharpe, Mel Gatfield, Sian Ryan, Baden Kirgan, Geoff Derrick, Joanne Morris, Monika Wheeler, Barney Lewer, Anna York, the Hon. Peter Primrose, Rebecca Santos, Andrew Mack, Alison Rahill, Michael Vaughan, Erin Watt, Huw Phillips, the Hon. Sally Talbot, Eamon Waterford, Matt McGirr, Matt Pulford, Professor Danielle Celermajer, Clara Edwards, Eliot Olivier, Cecilia Anthony, Tina Zhou, Elly Howse, Evan Hughes, and Nicole D'Souza..

Evatt Foundation Life Members

The late Sir Richard Kirby, the late Cliff Dolan, the late Faith Bandler, Elizabeth Evatt, Rosalind Carrodus, the late John Burton, the late Professor Ted Wheelwright, the late Hon. Tom Uren, Jeannette McHugh, and Bruce Childs.

You can help support the ideals of the labour movement by becoming a member of the Evatt Foundation, and you can stay in touch by subscribing to our free online Evatt Journal.

Images: Manning Clark, by Louis Kahan; Elizabeth Evatt (as Chancellor, University of Newcastle); Neville Wran, by Clifton PughAGNSW;  Tom Uren, by Mirra Whale, AGNSW; Ted Wheelwright, by Judith O'Conal.