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July 10, 2024

ASA to farewell Olivia Lanchester

With great sadness we announce that our Chief Executive, Olivia Lanchester, will be stepping down after 5 years in the role. Olivia’s leadership has been integral to the ASA’s continued growth throughout times of uncertainty and change, and she leaves behind an impressive, enduring and expansive legacy. Among her many achievements, Olivia spearheaded the ASA’s successful campaign to expand lending rights to include digital formats, strongly called for the spotlight on writers we now see in the National Cultural Policy, was an early and outspoken advocate in the face of generative AI, established Authors Legal – Australia’s first non-profit law firm for authors, oversaw the launch of the ASA’s new website and database, recently secured federal funding for the ASA after 8 years of self-sufficiency, and grew the staff and membership of the ASA. Olivia’s time at the ASA has made a material difference in the lives of Australian authors and illustrators and we are grateful for her passion and dedication.

“I have loved my time at the ASA, where I have been CEO for 5 years and Legal Services Manager for 4 years before that. It’s been a privilege to serve Australian authors and illustrators, for whom I have the greatest admiration and respect,” Olivia says.

“The tenacity, resilience, creativity and insightfulness of ASA members is awe-inspiring. I am so grateful to each member who supports the ASA which – despite our small size – punches above our weight in terms of achievements. Our membership base is, and has always been, our core strength; the unity of Australian authors is powerful.

“I have worked as hard as I could – because I’ve wished to serve the membership which serves our whole community. I have always believed that writers define a nation, it’s their words that propel us forward, define us, give expression to our fears and our joys and – more than anything – unite us in our shared humanity. It really is an honour to be part of ASA history.

“I am pleased to pass the baton to the next CEO at a time of great opportunity, with the new National Cultural Policy in place and the upcoming establishment of Writing Australia. I am proud to leave the ASA with an effective industry voice, strong and stable finances, and an amazing team.”

ASA Chair, Sophie Cunningham says, “Olivia Lanchester is the reason I wanted to be on the board of the ASA and then became Chair of that board. The ASA is a significant cultural and professional development organisation, devoted to writers, their rights and their needs. At sixty-one years old the ASA had a significant track record, and, thanks to Olivia’s extraordinary work, has reached new heights in the last five years as well as being strongly positioned for the years to come. The board of the ASA can’t quite imagine life without Olivia, but, with a buoyancy and pragmatism that is typical of her, she’s encouraging us to see this new chapter in our history as an exciting one. For our part, we can’t wait to see what she tackles next.”

Speaking on her departure, Olivia says, “The decision to leave has been an incredibly difficult one but I think after 9 years the time is right. I have been so lucky to have the unwavering support and guidance of Chair Sophie Cunningham, and Nicholas Pickard before her, and thank the entire ASA Board for their generosity and vision. I am also indebted to the ASA staff: a passionate, caring, utterly dedicated team and to my predecessor Juliet Rogers, who taught me so much before I stepped into the CEO role. Lastly, I want to thank our wonderful industry partners, particularly the Copyright Council, Copyright Agency, APA, BookPeople, ALIA, FNAWN, and Creative Australia who have made collaboration enjoyable and effective through some challenging times in recent years.” 

“My deep fondness and regard for the ASA will remain with me always. For the coming months, I will be focusing on the continued development of our services, our advocacy efforts, and a smooth transition. As ever, there’s so many exciting things ahead for the ASA.”  

The ASA will now commence a recruitment process for its next Chief Executive Officer. Olivia will remain in her post until a new appointment is made.