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In establishing the Hugh D. T. Williamson Foundation in his Will, Hugh directed that it should further those aspects that he had himself helped to nurture both personally and professionally throughout his life namely; supporting and strengthening communities in Melbourne and rural Victoria; establishing educational opportunities and building leadership skills in young people; helping the aged and economically and intellectually disadvantaged; and finding ways to enhance the cultural life of Victoria for all Victorians.

The Foundation does not have an open grant round process. The Trustees prefer to be active in the community and build relationships with people and organisations undertaking charitable work that is in alignment with the Founder’s wishes.

The Foundation began operation in 1986 with a capital base of more than $4 million.

The Trustees of the Hugh D. T. Williamson Foundation are:

  • Mr Stephen Newton AO (Chair)
  • Ms Susan Hughes
  • Mr James Garde
  • Equity Trustees represented by Ms Natalie Chan-Lei


Hugh grew up in country Victoria. He witnessed first-hand the difficulties of rural life exacerbated by a world war that had stripped whole towns of their young men, and the long, lean years of the Depression were to define the way he lived the rest of his life. Hard work, constancy, eschewing wastage of any kind along with a hunger to seize opportunities wherever they presented themselves were the principles that informed his life and career and which, in time, gave rise to a commitment to others and to organisations and communities in which he saw the same ideals.

Hugh attained the rank of Honorary Colonel in the Salvation Army and attained its highest award in 1978 when he was presented with its Distinguished Service Medal. In his time with the Salvation Army, Hugh helped establish the Red Shield Appeal and established scholarships to support senior officers to obtain business management training at the Australian Administrative Staff College in Mt Eliza (operated from a property formerly owned by Sir Reginald Ansett).

He began his working life at age 16 at the Ballarat Banking Company. He steadily worked his way up through the ranks of the banking industry to become General Manager of the ANZ Bank from which he retired in 1961.

Hugh was also a founding Trustee of the William Buckland Foundation, an association which strongly influenced his decision to set up his own foundation.