More than three decades after its establishment, the Connellan Airways Trust continues to deliver on the vision of its founder.

Story By Nathan Dyer

When Edward ‘EJ’ Connellan sold his beloved airline in 1979, he wanted to ensure its legacy of serving outback communities continued. With part of the sale proceeds, the outback businessman and pastoralist established Connellan Airways Trust. More than three decades on, the trust continues to honour EJ’s vision, supporting families and communities across remote Australia.
Former chairman and foundation trustee Max Horton says that right from the start the Connellan Airways Trust was focused on supporting people living in remote Australia. “Our concept of ‘outback’, is the remote outback,” says the retired lawyer who spent 39 years practising in Alice Springs. “It’s really the ‘back-of-beyond’ type of outback we’re talking about.” By focusing on truly remote areas, Max says the Connellan Airways Trust has been able to maximise its impact. “You find they’re get-up-and-go people, and its good to be able to help those kind of people help themselves.”
Since its establishment in 1981, the Connellan Airways Trust has maintained a clear vision: “To promote and encourage the advancement of knowledge of people, especially younger people, living on remote stations and in small settlements in outback parts of Australia such as those formerly served by Connellan Airways”.
Over the past 34 years, the trust has distributed more than $3 million to 2593 recipients through general grants and the annual EJ Connellan Award, which provides up to $20,000 for individuals to undertake further study or research. To be eligible, applicants must live on stations or communities in remote Australia, or be based in larger regional centres but serving people living in remote areas.
“We work more on a helping-hand concept,” Max says. “We tend to subsidise, rather than pay the whole amount for something.”

This story excerpt is from Issue #100

Outback Magazine: Apr/May 2015