Bill Lawson AM
Past Chairman, Beacon Founder
In 1988, frustrated with the Government’s inability to address generational welfare dependence, Bill Lawson AM realised that if he wanted to change employment outcomes for young people, he needed to challenge the policy makers to stop focussing on consequences and consider addressing causes.
The Beacon Foundation was established from this need to find and examine the causes of youth unemployment and ways of cutting it off upstream.
In 1995 Beacon’s first school program, aptly named ‘No Dole’ was conducted at Brooks High School in Launceston and achieved remarkable results. Real progress was immediately made to significantly lower levels of welfare dependency.
For over 27 years, under Bill’s guidance, Beacon continued to maintain a strong track record of success. In 2000 the Beacon model was rolled out nationally, and this year Beacon programs will engage over 15,000 young people in career education development activities from just over 109 schools. Developing and trialling new approaches, Beacon continues to position itself as a respected and trusted not-for-profit by raising awareness and providing support to young people to help them successfully transition from education to meaningful employment.
In June 2015, Bill was appointed to the Board of Reconciliation Australia and resigned as Chair of Beacon, expressing that he felt Beacon was firmly established and well placed to advise, assist and influence at a national level, comfortable that youth unemployment had become a primary focus for governments and the media. Bill is passionate about Indigenous issues with a specific focus on helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, especially young people, overcome their many disadvantages. In 2011 he was appointed to the Prime Minister’s Expert Panel for the constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians.
Alongside his impact at Beacon Bill had a distinguished Engineering career having worked across the public (15 years) and private sectors (28 years). Prior to his retirement Bill was responsible for many large and diverse projects both in Tasmania and throughout Australia. In 2003, Engineers Australia recognised Bill as the National Professional Engineer of the Year and in 2006 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia for ‘Services to Engineering and Young People’.
Newly appointed Beacon Chair, Mr Greg Woolley, acknowledged Bill’s contribution.
“Bill Lawson is a unique Australian,” he said.
“It is incredibly rare that a person is able to make such an impact on the lives of so many people over such a long period of time. Beacon’s achievements and the regard in which it is held are a testament to Bill’s foundation of Beacon and his dedicated stewardship over 27 years.”