Australian Society of Authors
The Australian Society of Authors (ASA) is the peak body representing Australia's literary creators and is the major advocate for the rights and remuneration of authors in Australia. It was key in the government's adoption of the Public Lending Rights Scheme ratified in 1975.
The society was established in June 1963 by a group of authors led by novelist Dal Stivens, who became the first President. In 2008, the ASA was bequeathed Stivens' literary estate after the death of his heir Juanita Cragen.
The poet Jill Hellyer was the first Executive Secretary and received an honorarium of ₤10 a week. Vice presidents were the novelist Morris West and the critic and sometime publisher P.R. ("Inky") Stephensen. The treasurer was bookseller A.W. Sheppard and printer Walter Stone was the editor of the new society's journal Broadside. This would later become Australian Author. Other authors on the first committee and council included Nancy Cato, Nan Chauncy, C.B. Christesen, Dymphna Cusack, Frank Dalby Davison, Mary Durack Miller, John K. Ewers, Sir Keith Hancock, Xavier Herbert, A. D. Hope, Leonard Mann, Alan Marshall, David Martin, T. Inglis Moore, John O'Grady, Roland Robinson, Colin Simpson, Douglas Stewart, Judith Wright, and Alan Yates.
The formation of the Society had been deemed necessary as a means of fighting colonial edition royalties. Since most publishing at the time took place in London, Australian authors received only half the royalty for the books they sold in Australia, which was often their most significant market. This problem was quickly dispensed with and the Society looked at other issues relevant to authors such as copyright, public lending right (a Public Lending Right Act was finally passed by the Australian Parliament in 1975, though it was a few more years before authors began to receive payments from the Public Lending Right Scheme (which is now administered by the Australian Government Office for the Arts, Department of Regional Australia, Local Government, Arts and Sport) and Educational Lending Right. This last was achieved in 2000. The ASA administers the Barbara Jefferis Award, which is funded from a bequest from the late John Hinde in tribute to his wife who was a founding member of the Society. The Award was first presented in 2008 to Rhyll McMaster for her book Feather Man (Brandl & Schlesinger, Sydney, 2007) In 2009 it was awarded to The Spare Room by Helen Garner, in 2010 to The China Garden by Kristina Olsson (UQP), and in 2011 to Come Inside by G.L. Osborne (Clouds of Magellan).
The Society now has over 3,000 members and a staff of nine based in the society-owned building in Ultimo, an inner city suburb of Sydney. The Society has been integral in the establishment of the Australian Copyright Council, Copyright Agency Limited and Educational Lending Right, which was introduced in Australia in 2000.
The current Chair of the Society is Sophie Masson, while Margot Hilton is Deputy Chair, David Day (historian) is Treasurer, and Jeremy Fisher (author) and Robyn Sheahan-Bright make up the Executive. Angelo Loukakis is the current Executive Director who was appointed in January 2010.
- A Writer's Rights: the Story of the Australian Society of Authors 1963-1983. Deirdre Hill (Australian and New Zealand Book Co., Sydney 1983).