Gerald Loughran Australia Day AM

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Well-known Tasmanian businessman and the founding Chair of the Tasmanian Community Fund (TCF) Gerald Loughran has been made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) for significant service to the community of Tasmania through business, education and arts organisations.

For close to 20 years, Mr Loughran was Managing Director of state-wide electrical and home furnishing retail business Loughrans Pty Ltd, which was sold to Harvey Norman in 1998.

Mr Loughran has been a director of many well-known Tasmanian business and organisations including The Salamanca Arts Centre, University of Tasmania Foundation, Webster Ltd, The Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, and was the Chair of The Trust Bank.

He was the founding Chair of the TCF from 2000-2009, taking on the role after orchestrating the sale of The Trust Bank and ensuring there was a long-term benefit left to the entire Tasmanian community.

Reflecting on his time of setting up the TCF, he fondly recalls the work involved to negotiate with the Governments of the day and ensuring the legislation passed through both houses of Parliament.

“Unlike the larger mainland states, Tasmania lacked the head offices of major organisations to leverage community money for important infrastructure and programs, Mr Loughran said.

“As Chair of the Trust Bank, the board looked to similar funds setup in New Zealand when local trust banks had been closed and wanted to ensure we could come up with a sustainable funding model with strong governance and independence at its core.”

In the early days, Mr Loughran was amazed at the amount of need within the many Tasmanian communities, with three to four times as many applications for funds available.

“We knew the need was great, but when the floodgates opened up we quickly learnt that we needed more strategy around focusing on areas of need, such as literacy, early childhood education and community infrastructure,” he said.

“I would have read many thousands of funding applications in my time as Chair of the TCF and there is not one town or community that hasn’t benefitted from the fund in some way, that is something I am very proud of.

“The Fund has been blessed with excellent leadership from the Chairs since my time and the continuing high quality of board members who have taken their role so seriously, the TCF is going from strength to strength.

“I’m particularly appreciative of the integrity and professionalism of the staff at the Fund since its inception until now, they do outstanding work in assisting communities and organisations through the application process.”

Mr Loughran said he did not expect the Order of Australia award and was very humbled.

“What stands out to me is just how many thousands of volunteers who tirelessly work in their communities to make it better. Their passion and commitment is amazing.”

Current TCF Chair Sally Darke said that Mr Loughran’s efforts to improve the lives of all Tasmanians could not be overstated and he was a very worthy recipient of this award.

“Under Gerald’s leadership, the Fund was setup under guiding principles to not only ensure it could operate in perpetuity but have the ability to change with our community as their needs change,” she said.

“Looking back to the year 2000 when the Fund commenced compared to now, we have changed so much as a state, and so funding initiatives around community wellbeing and workforce engagement are key to the TCF meeting the needs of Tasmanians today.

“Our response to the Covid-19 pandemic is an example of the TCF being able to adapt quickly and build vibrant communities that are capable and resilient in shaping their future.”