Until 1996 the Department of Wool & Animal Science at the University of New South Wales was the only Australian Tertiary institution providing comprehensive specialist training in wool and textile science and technology. Other institutions offered some training through the provision of wool science related topics as elective subjects.

As such, the Department was a major source of graduates employed in wool marketing and technology industries and in related research. Graduates have been and are still employed in the wool broking and exporting industries, wool processing, CSIRO, State Departments of Agriculture, The Woolmark Company, Australian Wool Innovation and AWTA Ltd.

The decision of the University of New South Wales at the end of 1996 to close the Department created a void in the tertiary training of undergraduates and graduates and also reduced the facilities for post graduate training and research – a situation which further exacerbated opportunities lost with the closure of the CSIRO Division of Wool Technology laboratory at Ryde, NSW, in mid 1996.

AWTA Ltd moved to minimise the effect of the closure of the Department of Wool & Animal Science by the establishment of “The AWTA Ltd Wool Education Trust” with a grant, in July 1997  of AUD3,000,000.

The Trust Deed provided for the appointment of 5 Trustees – 3 by AWTA Ltd (the Founder) and 2 by the former Federation of Australian Wool Organisations Inc (FAWO).

In May 2003, the Deed was amended to broaden the objectives of the Trust to allow Trustees to fund education outside the University sector.

In June 2004, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) agreed to donate $4.00 million to the Trust, subject to the Trust Deed being amended to provide for appointments of 3 Trustees by AWTA Ltd, 3 by AWI and 2 by FAWO.  The new Deed came into effect on 25th June 2004, at which time the Trust was renamed “Australian Wool Education Trust” (AWET).

With the AWI grant, the Trust’s total capital almost doubled. The extra funding enabled the Trust to generate up to $0.5M per annum for education in the wool industry. The Trust was therefore able to fund skills development for the industry on a much larger scale than before.

In June 2019 the Trustees unanimously supported a variation to the Trust Deed to reduce the number of Trustees. As of 1st July 2019 there are 5 Trustees, two appointed by AWTA Ltd, 2 by AWI and one by WIA.

In November 2021 the Trustees varied the Trust Deed to replace the “Federation of Australian Wool Organisations Inc (FAWO)” with “Wool Industries Australia Inc (WIA)”.


The Trustees shall hold the Trust’s capital upon trust for the application of the income for charitable purposes being the advancement of education in wool and wool textile science and technology including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, in all or any of the following methods:

  • to support the education of students, growers and others considered to be capable of contributing to the development of the wool industry, from the growing to the textile product stage, including in such subjects as:

    • fibre science, including fibre and follicle development, fibre morphology and characteristics, and their effects on processing performance and product properties;
    • wool production, including selection, preparation for sale and packaging;
    • wool metrology, including testing technology, process control, Total Quality Management techniques and the prediction of processing performance;
    • wool and textile marketing, including trading, processing and promotion of products made wholly or partially from wool;
  • to fund attendance at educational conferences and to fund scholarships and prizes;

  • to fund educational resources, educational conferences, educational programs and educational institutions and colleges; and

  • to fund scientific research undertaken for the advancement of education.

Application of Funds

Funds may be used to provide scholarships and/or fund academic positions. They may also be used to fund other resources as required.

Funds are not restricted to any one institution.

Allocation of funds is determined by the Trustees.

Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC)

Being a perpetual not-for-profit trust, AWET is registered with and reports to the Australian Charities & Not for Profits Commission (ACNC).

Registration was first required in 2012 and Annual Reports are provided to the ACNC at the end of each calendar year. The Trust has always met the ACNC’s reporting requirements within the stipulated timetable.

Funding Policy


T0  fund worthwhile projects that fully comply with the objects of the Trust Deed while:

  1. maintaining the purchasing power of the Trust’s assets in perpetuity;
  2. committing to some long-term projects without removing the ability to fund new projects in subsequent years; and
  3. concurrently funding at least 2 major projects.

To achieve these objectives, Trustees have determined the following:

Level of Funding

On an annual basis, approximately 4% of the asset value of the Trust is expected to be available to be distributed to funded projects.  (Note: This figure is calculated from the expected long-term nominal return on investment of 8% less CPI (2.5%), investment management fees (1.0%) and other administrative costs (0.5%).)

Length & Timing of Funding Committments

The following table represents the maximum funding commitments for future years:

Current Year 1 Year Out 2 Years Out
% of Annual Funding Committed 100% 60% 30%

Size  of Major Projects

Typically, the Trust funds projects up to approximately $50,000 per annum for up to 3 years.

Revised: 05/08/2011

Allocating Funds to Educational Sectors

Funds available for allocation by the Trust are limited to earnings on its investments.  Current policy is to retain 49% of those earnings, leaving the other 51% for funding of selected projects/programmes.

The objectives of the Trust clearly allow funding across all educational sectors, but do not prescribe the proportion of funding to be allocated to each sector.  However, within the limits on available funding dictated by the Funding Policy, Trustees’ decisions to apportion funds are circumscribed by the Trust’s Principal Objective, namely:

“To support the education of students, growers and others considered to be capable of contributing to the development of the wool industry, from the growing to the textile product stage.

The capability of students, woolgrowers et al to contribute to the development of the wool industry is clearly related to the degree to which any assistance provided by the Trust is contiguous with their career choices and/or their motivation to become leaders.  This suggests that the majority of the funding should be directed at the tertiary rather than the secondary education sector.  Within the secondary sector, exposure to wool and sheep education might influence employment choices, but the impact will be proportionally diminished the further away it is in time from when such decisions will be made and, correspondingly, the effectiveness of the Trust’s funding is likely to be diminished.

The justification for allocating less funds to the VET sector than to the Colleges and Universities relates to the fact that VET courses are normally shorter and less costly to deliver.  In addition, academically trained professionals are generally recognised in the employment market as being more valuable and more likely to develop as leaders.  Of course, this is not always the case.

The policy for apportioning funds is described as ranges, rather than as finite targets, so they are not too prescriptive.  In practice, the actual mix of project/programme funding between the sectors will be influenced by the circumstances and perceived needs at the time decisions are made.

Sector Percentage Range Percentage Mid-point
Schools 0% – 5% 2.5%
VET – Production 5% – 10% 7.5%
VET – Fashion Schools 10% – 23% 16.5%
Undergraduate 65% – 80% 72.5%

The long term percentage range applies over a 10-year funding cycle, but within any particular year these may be exceeded depending upon the quality of the applications received.

Issued: 25/09/2006
Amended: 26/10/2016