The surprise appearance of a Nobel peace prize medal was one of the many highlights of an evening celebrating the best of Australian philanthropy during the past 12 months.
At an inspiring Australian Philanthropy Awards presentation at the Art Gallery of NSW on Monday night, the peace prize appeared during the international philanthropy award presentation to Eve Kantor and Mark Wootton, and the Kantor family through the Poola and Dara Foundation, for the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).
ICAN led the way in the negotiation and adoption of the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. ICAN now has 541 partner organisations in 103 countries, after starting in Melbourne in 2005. “Thanks, in particular to the people of ICAN,” Mark said during he and Eve’s acceptance speech. “Their fingerprints are on this (honour): our fingerprints are just smudges on the edges.”
Philanthropy Australia co-chair Ann Johnson said the awards celebrated extraordinary achievements in contemporary philanthropy for work that was visionary, high impact and transformative.
“The awards also celebrate partnerships between philanthropy and for-purpose organisations and honour those who are working to create lasting, positive change,” she said.
Seven awards were presented, including the 2019 Leading Philanthropist, Philip Bacon AM. (LINK to other story)
The Environmental Philanthropy Award was presented to the Melliodora Fund (and six other sub funds of the Australian Communities Foundation, plus 10 other funders since 2014), for the Change Agency Community Organising Fellowship. Accepting the award, James Whelan hailed the importance of ‘people power’ in driving change in Australia.
“While I was a child, snorkelling on reefs in northern Australia, companies planned to drill the Great Barrier Reef for oil. The Franklin River was going to be dammed and drowned. Most national parks were at one time going to be logged, mined or developed,” James said.
“And just a few years ago, the valley north of Newcastle where I share a farm was going to be fracked for unconventional gas.”
“But people power protected all these places. And people power is the engine of today’s social movement for climate action. These campaigns were all led by passionate and deeply skilled community organisers,” he explained.
The Gender-wise Philanthropy Award was presented to Atlassian Foundation International for Room to Read Australia, to help boost education in Cambodia, particularly for girls. Atlassian Foundation International Director Melissa Beaumont Lee told the audience: “We know that when you support a woman’s education, you’re supporting her whole household, and breaking the cycle of poverty for her whole family.”
The Indigenous Philanthropy Award was presented to the Karrkad Kanjdji Trust and the Klein Family foundation for the Warddeken Daluk Ranger program, that has boosted the numbers of women rangers – and the hours they work – across a vast area of Arnhem Land. The program also includes significant native species conservation, education on Country and cultural heritage management.
Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davies described the Best Large Grant award recipient - Dusseldorp Forum, the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF) and Maranguka Backbone Community Organisation, Bourke (auspiced by Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT) for Maranguka’s Justice Reinvestment Strategy – as ‘genius’.
“It’s genius because it uses all of the characteristics of philanthropy to their fullest extent. It starts with the principle that communities and people know best what they need and how to get it,” Sarah said.
“There are no constraints, no agendas, no time limits. It completely exploits the wisdom of crowds, taking all perspectives and all voices. It flexes its freedom muscle to the max, takes risks, breaks rules…It completely understands the context and the system,” she said. And, Sarah added, it was all underpinned by rigour and strategy.
Six years ago, Maranguka teamed up with Just Reinvest NSW to implement Australia’s first Justice Reinvestment initiative that helped address high levels of social disadvantage and rising crime in Bourke, in NSW while strengthening the local community.
A tourism initiative that helped deal with a drought-driven business downturn in remote Queensland was awarded the Best Small Grant. The Barcoo Way is a tourism route launched in May 2018 with the help of a grant from the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal that supported a marketing consultant to liaise with the local communities to devise ways of engaging and promoting a tourism trail that wound its way along the Barcoo River.
Leading Philanthropist: Philip Bacon AM
Best Large Grant: Dusseldorp Forum, Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation (VFFF) and Maranguka Backbone Community Organisation, Bourke (Auspiced by Aboriginal Legal Service NSW/ACT) for Maranguka’s Justice Reinvestment Strategy.
Environmental Philanthropy Award: Melliodora Fund (and six other sub funds of the Australian Communities Foundation, plus 10 other funders since 2014) for The Change Agency Community Organising Fellowship.
Gender Wise Philanthropy Award: Atlassian Foundation International for Room to Read Australia.
Indigenous Philanthropy Award: Klein Family Foundation and Karrkad Kanjdji Trust (KKT) for the Warddeken Daluk Ranger Program.
With thanks to our 2019 Australian Philanthropy Awards Partners:
Deakin University, Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network, Netwealth, Australian Women Donors Network, Ninti One and Art Gallery NSW