THE LYRA TAYLOR FUND: Origins & Purpose

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THE LYRA TAYLOR FUND: Origins & Purpose

About Lyra Taylor
In 1944, Lyra Taylor became the first social worker in the Commonwealth Department of Social Services and helped change how governments delivered their social services programs. Lyra had forged a successful legal career in New Zealand, studied in America and worked in Canada before taking up her post as the department’s first social worker. She obtained a Master’s degree in social economics and social work. She was then appointed Administrative Officer of the Social Work and Research Branch in the Department of Social Services in 1944.

Professor of Social Work at Melbourne University, Dr Leonard Tierney, paid tribute to Lyra for her dedication to social work, despite the challenges and controversy of her role at the time. Lyra chivvied and persuaded social workers to enlarge their vision of themselves, the world and their professional contribution. To the young she was kind and she had a way of enlisting you to causes which was difficult to resist.

We need to remember how difficult it was for women then to achieve positions commensurate with their ability, or even to find their way into a university. After her retirement, Lyra continued to be active in various social councils representing and advocating for older Australians. After her death in 1979, AASW Victoria, to whom Lyra bequeathed her estate, established the Lyra Taylor Fund. As stated in Lyra’s obituary, “the social work profession in Australia owes an enormous amount to the work of Lyra Taylor”. Pictured above, Miss Lyra Taylor aged 29 in 1925.

What is the purpose of the Lyra Taylor Fund?

As mentioned above, Lyra Taylor bequeathed her estate to the AASW Victorian Branch. A fund was established, to distribute varying amounts of funding to the education and professional development of social workers. This funding is delivered by way of grants, depending on the capacity of the Fund and the quality of the Applications received. Lyra was dedicated to advancing the professionalism and standing of social work through development and training.

1.  To advance education in relation to Social Work by:

a) Promoting, improving, and maintaining standards of professional practice, education, and research.

b) Establishing and maintaining continuing professional education opportunities for members.

c) Educating and informing the public and community institutions as to the aims and objectives of professional Social Work; and

2.  To encourage and financially support special projects that will benefit the community.

Grants from the fund may be made to current financial members of the AASW (Victorian Branch) for projects consistent with the Fund’s purpose. The Lyra Taylor Fund is managed by AET Foundation – Lyra Taylor account (“AET”) and the decision to allocate grants to applicants is conducted through the Lyra Taylor Decision Committee.

For 2023, The Lyra Taylor Decision Committee (through AET) awarded grant funding of $6,000 to La Trobe University in support of the project by our Victorian member, Dr Natasha Long and her project:  “Growing social work field education in the fee for service space”.

For 2024 we are currently finalising the application process so watch this space around October 2023 for information about 2024 grant funding opportunities available.

Please contact the AASW on 1800 630 124 or email the membership team at [email protected] for further information