The Dusseldorp Skills Forum was established in 1989 to mark the retirement of GJ (Dick) Dusseldorp, Founder and Executive Chairman of the Lend Lease Group of Companies. At his final Annual General Meeting as Chairman, Lend Lease employees and shareholders unanimously voted in favour of this unusual retirement gift, issuing a grant of shares to establish a foundation in his name, to fund its own activities by income from its assets.

BIRTH OF THE FORUM

In 1988 Dick Dusseldorp had posed the question: “What would be possible if one had the independent means to pioneer new ways for young people to acquire a broader range of skills to better prepare them for the future?” His answer was the Dusseldorp Skills Forum, an independent, public interest and not-for-profit organisation.

Its aim is “to benefit the Australian community by stimulating innovation and educational developments”. Through the work of the Forum, GJ Dusseldorp sought to make a tangible difference to the life chances of young Australians. He paid particular attention to those who through no fault of their own were unable to access educational opportunities that would help them shape their own future.

THE INSPIRATION

Dick’s working life inspired the Forum’s philosophy of collaboration. He was driven to find collaborative solutions in difficult situations; to satisfy real needs by finding the common interest between disparate stakeholders. Ultimately, these solutions would deliver more to each party over time.

“The forum idea was absolutely crucial in his thinking,” Dick’s eldest son, Tjerk Dusseldorp recalls. “You gather people on that platform who come from different needs and perspectives, and you work out – just as he had once done with his industrial relations works, or his customer work – you then work out smart solutions that meet the needs and have support.”