History and social justice combine

State Trustees chief executive officer Craig Dent with his book, The Creation of Trust.
State Trustees chief executive officer Craig Dent with his book, The Creation of Trust.

THE words ‘relaxation’ and ‘recreation’ mean many different things to different people.

For State Trustees chief executive officer Craig Dent, it involves writing.

Never having learned to touch type, he has his head down and eyes on the keyboard as he punches each letter into the computer. 

His memory enables him to keep track of the words that ought to be appearing on the screen – no mean feat, given he’s got a penchant for non-fiction writing. 

His new book traces the history of public trustees, and how the past has shaped their present and future. 

“If you asked the hypothetical man or woman in the street how a person with a significant mental or physical impairment, of few means, determines their own interests – like making a will, or managing their financial affairs – most people would have little idea,” musician and former politician Peter Garrett wrote in the book’s foreword. 

The words rang true for Craig, whose inspiration was born of the realisation the documented history of the State Trustees was incomplete. 

“Most people still don’t get what we do, yet it will impact or touch on their lives at some point,” he said. 

The scope of the project broadened as he realised how much the stories of public trustees in Australia and abroad were intertwined. 

The Creation of Trust starts in medieval England and looks to the future.

It took almost four years to write it – much longer than Craig had anticipated.

“The good and the bad’s in there,” he said.

The Harvard Business School alumnus said there was “no doubt” life had improved for some of the most vulnerable members of our community over time.

He was confronted by the language some of the historical records contained in describing people who were experiencing mental ill health, or had a disability. In instances, the accounts were describing clients of the public trustees.

“It was truly horrific,” Craig said. 

However, he said the book had highlighted opportunities for growth. 

Craig said there was a need for greater awareness of public trustees and the services offered, before they were urgently needed. 

“I’d love to see Victorians, as part of getting their drivers licence, also make decisions about the contents of their will,” he said. 

If not when they got a licence, he wished people would consider it whenever they marked a milestone in their lives. 

“It takes a bit of thought, but it doesn’t take long to do,” Craig said. 

In addition to having a will, he said it was important that people had discussed their plans with their loved ones.

That included conversations about the guardianship of any children.

“The last thing you really need is for dysfunction to arise,” Craig said.

Bendigo is home to a State Trustees office. 

Further information about The Creation of Trust is available from the State Trustees website.

All proceeds from the book’s sale will be donated to the State Trustees Australia Foundation.