Background and history of the Vincent Fairfax Fellowship
In 1992, Geoffrey White, Executive Director of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, had discussions with Dr Simon Longstaff, Executive Director of St James Ethics Centre, about leadership programs to accord with Sir Vincent Fairfax's wish to see good leaders in Australia.
St James Ethics Centre was one of a number of organisations consulted in an effort to identify an appropriate route to follow.
Following discussions as to the type of program envisaged, Dr Longstaff offered a number of options, one of which was the nucleus for an ethics in leadership program. The Centre's broad framework was submitted to the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and after consultation was accepted. In making their decision the Trustees of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation were conscious that St James Ethics Centre itself had emerged from the St James Church in King Street Sydney.
On 15 July 1994, some fifteen months after the death of Sir Vincent the Vincent Fairfax Ethics in Leadership Awards program was officially launched by Rear Admiral Peter Sinclair, AC, the then Governor of New South Wales. In 1997, following the regular review, the Foundation and the Centre agreed to change the name of the program to The Vincent Fairfax Fellowship.
On Saturday 31 July 2004, the tenth anniversary of the Fellowship, and the graduation of the ninth group of Fellows was celebrated at a dinner in Manly. During the course of the evening Mrs Sally White, daughter of Sir Vincent and Trustee of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, announced the establishment of a new Foundation whose specific purpose is to fund this program and other initiatives like it into the future.
The new Foundation, known as the Vincent Fairfax Ethics in Leadership Foundation, is a Prescribed Private Fund and is able to receive tax deductible donations from Australian residents. At establishment the funding for the Foundation was provided by the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation and members of Sir Vincent's family.
The Fellowship is a natural pro-active extension of the work of St James Ethics Centre. The program is not merely about the promotion of values for their own sake or for the benefit of the participants, worthwhile though those aims are.
More fundamentally, this enterprise is about deepening the ethical sense of young leaders in their present roles and especially because some of them may be expected to rise to positions of significant influence. It is about cultivating a consciousness of ethics as a kind of practical wisdom - a wisdom that has its roots in a perception of human life which extends beyond the material and involves the formation of an inner character. It is in this profound sense that the Fellowship represents the vision of a program which will contribute substantially to the conduct of Australian affairs.
The first group of Fellows were selected in 1994 and graduated in 1996; the second group were selected in 1995 and graduated in 1997 – and so on. In 2008 we selected the fifteenth group of Fellows who began their program in January 2009 and will graduate in 1010.
Learn more about the work of St James Ethics Centre and the Vincent Fairfax Fellowship ethics in leadership program.