Nation’s most effective givers recognised at 2018 Australian Philanthropy Awards

Mon, 30 Jul 2018

Now in their fourth year, the Australian Philanthropy Awards, which are an initiative of Philanthropy Australia designed to celebrate the positive impact of giving, recognise the impact and innovation of transformative philanthropy across seven categories.

Sarah Davies, CEO of Philanthropy Australia said the bold and visionary leadership demonstrated by this year’s awardees reflects the best of contemporary philanthropic practice.

“The recipients of the 2018 Awards truly showcase the capacity of philanthropy to contribute to meaningful social change,” Davies said.

“Some of the projects recognised at these Awards have changed our national landscape forever.

“They demonstrate that philanthropy today is not just about the money – it’s about a vision of what can be better and how philanthropy can help turn this vision into reality through analysis, insight, strategy, partnership, collaboration and risk-taking.”

Each year, award nominations are independently assessed by an expert judging panel with selection criteria encompassing transformation, innovation, commitment, courage and entrepreneurship.

Genevieve Timmons, Chair of the 2018 Judging Panel, praised the far-reaching impact of this year’s Award recipients.

“The Awards recognise the contributions not only of philanthropic funders, but also of the non-profit and community partners that have brought the work to life,” Ms Timmons said.

“As we’ve seen with this year’s awardees, you can’t achieve lasting impact or systems-change without innovative and effective partnerships.”  

The main event

Almost 160 guests from the philanthropic and public sectors were on hand to celebrate the Awards, held in the Utzon Room at the Sydney Opera House.

Philanthropy Australia Council member, Ann Sherry AO, emceed the event with pizzazz, promising and delivering a night of celebration to the assembled guests. 

Alan Schwartz AM, Philanthropy Australia President, echoed Sherry’s celebratory sentiment in his opening remarks, deeming the Awards “a celebration of all the individuals and organisations who were nominated” and that “by celebrating the achievements of the Award recipients, we hope to inspire others to achieve.”

The first of the Awards to be presented on the night was Best Small Grant which went to the Snow Foundation and Women’s Centre for Health Matters for the Assistance Beyond Crisis Credit Loans Initiative.

Accepting the Award, Snow Foundation CEO, Georgina Byron, said that in its first year, the initiative had provided 23 credit loans to women who had experienced domestic violence and that she viewed the award as “an award for the whole community.”

The announcement of the recipient of Best Large Grant was met with rapturous applause as Tom Snow and Brooke Horne from the Tom Snow and Brooke Horne Family Trust and Anna Brown, co-founder of the Marriage Equality Campaign took the stage.

“These recipients,” Brown said, gesturing to Snow and Horne, “and the [Marriage Equality] campaign embody the spirit of love.”

Brown thanked Marriage Equality’s many philanthropic supporters, before urging greater support of LGBTIQ+ issues, which presently only attracted 0.8 per cent of all philanthropic funding.

Speaking earlier with Philanthropy Australia, Brooke dedicated the award to the thousands of Australians who supported the Equality Campaign.

“This award is a huge honour that we share with every single person who donated money or time to achieve marriage equality,” Horne said. “The Equality Campaign was the result of significant philanthropic leadership that gave strength to the thousands of everyday Australians who were willing to stand up and push for fairness and equality.”

The Environmental Philanthropy Award was presented by Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network CEO, Amanda Martin, who said the judging decision was made on the nominee who “showed the greatest level of leadership, courage and immediate and significant impact on the environment.”

The Environmental Philanthropy Award went to the Purves Environment Fund and 28 other donors for their support of the Tree Clearing Alliance representing 15 organisations from across Australia.

Dermot O’Gorman from WWF Australia said the initiative was an “amazing alliance of 28 philanthropists, more than 15 NGOs and 20-30 community groups who all came together to address the great threat to biodiversity caused by excessive tree clearing.”

Julie Reilly from the Australian Women Donors Network introduced the 2018 Gender-Wise Philanthropy Award by highlighting the growing body of evidence that demonstrates the outsize impact of supporting women and girls.

“We know that when women thrive, their families and communities thrive and this is reflected in stronger, safer societies and more robust national economies,” Reilly said before welcoming Deanne Weir from the WeirAnderson Foundation and Gemma Hardie from IWDA, to the stage to accept this year’s award.

Weir said her longstanding partnership with IWDA was a direct alignment of values: “They are international, feminist and independent.”

Weir’s support of the organisation’s refreshed communication strategy has paid significant dividends, with IWDA’s supporter base growing “more than tenfold since the investment kicked off.”

Presenting the Indigenous Philanthropy Award, Alison Page, Director of Ninti One, gave one of the night’s most captivating speeches during which she expressed her pride at the recent NAIDOC Week celebrations and deemed philanthropists the “quiet leaders of the people’s movement.”

“I think government is like a cruise ship but philanthropists are the speed boats that cut through and make change by leading by example,” Page said light-heartedly. “They are paving the way for a different kind of values to be acknowledged and celebrated.”

The BB & A Miller Fund and Williams Fund from Australian Communities Foundation and Woor-Dungin received the 2018 Indigenous Philanthropy Award for the Criminal Record Discrimination Project, with three Indigenous members of the project sharing powerful and heartfelt stories about their experiences.

“This issue has affected and is still affecting Indigenous peoples because it stops us from being a valuable community member and participating in the many jobs required to function as a community,” said Wenzel Carter, Woor-Dungin Aboriginal Cultural Support Worker and Yawal Mugadjina Cultural Mentoring Program, Respected Community Member.

Days before the Australian Philanthropy Awards, the Victorian Government introduced new laws into Parliament that make clear that relevant historical care and protection orders are not to be treated as convictions or findings of guilt.

The inaugural International Philanthropy Award was presented by Beth Delaney from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) acknowledged that “philanthropists are an essential partner for DFAT in helping us to achieve our development goals.”

Presenting the International Philanthropy Award to Wheelton Philanthropy and the Bali Children Foundation Delaney highlighted the success of Wheelton’s “business mindset to create practical change through measured and cost-effective approaches” and his ability to multiply “the impact of his contributions by connecting Bali Children Foundation with other stakeholders.”

Accepting the award, Marg Barry from Bali Children Foundation said the Wheelton’s philanthropy had helped support the education of more than 4,500 disadvantaged Balinese students. Barry thanked the Wheeltons for their “valuable mix of mentoring and financial philanthropy.”

2017’s Leading Philanthropist, Ian Darling AO, shared highlights and reflections from his time in the role, and his concern at seeing an increasing number of threats coming into the sector which he said underscored the “importance of a group like Philanthropy Australia to bring the sector together and calmly and collectively speak to government.”

Darling also spoke of philanthropy’s power to advocate for social change as evidenced by the successful Marriage Equality Campaign and urged philanthropy to get behind the Uluru Statement from the Heart as well as growing its support for issues affecting women and girls – a cause to which Darling had pledged additional focus by joining the Women Moving Millions movement.

Presenting the final award of the evening, the 2018 Leading Philanthropist Award, Ann Sherry highlighted the vision of the awardees, Nicola and Andrew Forrest, for their commitment to finding “solutions rather than temporary fixes for some of the most challenging social issues that face us today.”

“They back individuals and organisations that show leadership and they’re prepared to go above and beyond in service to their community,” Sherry continued. “Their philanthropy covers the arts and culture, community empowerment, early childhood development, environment, the elimination of cancer, higher education and research and modern slavery.

“And they support change at every level, from grassroots community to system-level change, in recognition of the complexity in tackling seemingly intractable problems.”

Though the Forrests were unable to attend the event, Nicola Forrest thanked the sector and Philanthropy Australia for the honour via video message, during which she urged optimism and collaboration.

“The most important thing any of us can do is collaborate together,” she told the room by video. “When we work together there’s no limit to what we can achieve.”

“By making our giving public, we hope to encourage others to do what they can to address social challenges,” Nicola Forrest said.

In earlier comments provided to Philanthropy Australia, Andrew Forrest AO reflected on the couple’s giving journey.

“For 17 years we have been working to create healthier and more educated citizens, boost training and employment and enable communities to thrive, all over the world,” Andrew Forrest said. “We aren’t afraid to take on tough problems, and look to create long-term solutions, not short-term fixes.”

Wrapping up the evening’s formalities, Ann Sherry congratulated all the award nominees and recipients, and the “many impressive examples of more and better philanthropy being created by individuals and organisations across Australia.”

With thanks to our 2018 Australian Philanthropy Awards Partners:

Ninti One: Indigenous Philanthropy Award Partner

Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network: Environmental Philanthropy Award Partner

Netwealth: Gender-wise Philanthropy Award Partner

Australian Women Donors Network: Gender-wise Philanthropy Award Presenting Partner

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade: International Philanthropy Award Partner

Sydney Opera House: Event Partner


‘This is not just a movement, it’s a moment’: Deanne Weir

In the age of #MeToo and #TimesUp, 2018 Gender-Wise Philanthropy Award recipient, Deanne Weir, says that while more conversation and action towards gender equity is needed, there’s reason to be hopeful. Her capacity building philanthropic support of the International Women’s Development Agency is just one of the ways Weir is walking the talk: “It’s not about massive dollars, it’s about real impact at all levels.”

2018’s Leading Philanthropist

West Australian couple, Nicola and Andrew Forrest, were named 2018 Philanthropy Leader at the recent Australian Philanthropy Awards. Accepting the award, Nicola Forrest told guests via video message that “the most important thing any of us can do is collaborate together. When we work together there’s no limit to what we can achieve.”

Opening doors: The Snow Foundation

Georgina Byron explains why humility, collaboration and transparency are the cornerstones of The Snow Foundation’s philanthropy.

The journey is the learning: Paul Wheelton

Paul Wheelton AM shares thoughts about his PhD in hindsight, what it feels like to be the only male delegate at an international conference of high net worth donors, and more.

Lessons from the trenches: Ian Darling

The Philanthropy Leader of the Year on storytelling for social change, leadership lessons from the Richmond Football Club and what it takes to stop your philanthropic dollars from going backwards.