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Tim Fairfax AC named as Australia’s 2021 Leading Philanthropist

November 16th, 2021

Company director, grazier and philanthropist Tim Fairfax AC has been celebrated with the nation’s highest philanthropic honour, the Leading Philanthropist Award, presented on 16 November at the 2021 Australian Philanthropy Awards Ceremony.

The Leading Philanthropist Award recognises an individual philanthropist whose work is visionary, high impact and transformative. The longevity and diversity of Tim’s philanthropy has created an undeniable legacy of best practice giving.

In addition to generous funding, Tim has provided time, knowledge and leadership to many organisations, and in recent years, as the nation’s regions have been impacted by a debilitating drought, bushfires and then the pandemic, his family foundation has supported a wide range of philanthropic initiatives and innovations.

Philanthropy Australia CEO, Jack Heath, acknowledged the significant and enduring impact Mr Fairfax has generated through his lifelong philanthropic endeavours.

''We are very pleased to announce Tim Fairfax AC as the Leading Philanthropist for 2021, to officially recognise a man whose inspiring approach to giving has seen his philanthropy reach into so many areas of Australian life,” Mr Heath said.

“Tim has been a comprehensive supporter of the nation’s rural and regional communities; it would be hard to think of anyone else that has done more. He has also passionately and strategically funded and advocated for organisations involved in education, arts and culture.”

In accepting the 2021 Leading Philanthropist Award, Tim, a man known for his gracious and understated approach to giving, said he felt genuinely humbled, and spoke of the aspects of giving that he holds in esteem.

“For me, one of the highlights of philanthropy is not so much the giving, but the receiving, the fact that you can make a difference whether it’s helping an Indigenous arts centre in Alice Springs or empowering those who live in rural and remote Australia or giving creative arts education to young Australians, [and] the satisfaction and rewards of listening to the outcomes of various funding initiatives,” Mr Fairfax said.

“Giving can take many forms. It’s certainly not all about dollars – we all have the capacity to make a contribution to society and I think as a nation, we lead by example. Just look at our volunteers – to me they are the unsung heroes … it is one of many forms of philanthropy which we should recognise.’’

The ingrained nature of Tim’s philanthropic practice is owed in large part to the influence of his family. His parents, Sir Vincent Fairfax and Lady Nancy Fairfax, were pioneers in that they were philanthropists in an era when the activity was still an emerging practice in Australia. It’s no surprise then that there is a family foundation commemorating Sir Vincent (the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation), of which Tim was Chair from 2009 to 2017, while he has his own family foundation, the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation (TFFF) that he set up with his wife Gina and their four daughters. The primary focus of TFFF is to support rural, regional, and remote communities in Queensland and the Northern Territory and help them address the challenges they face due to their geographic location.

The Australian Philanthropy Awards recognise and celebrate extraordinary achievements in contemporary philanthropy and highlight partnerships between philanthropy and for-purpose organisations to honour those who are working to create lasting, positive change. Awards were presented today across nine categories: Leading Philanthropist, Better Philanthropy, Bolder Philanthropy, Best Grant Program, Community Philanthropy, Environmental Philanthropy, Indigenous Philanthropy, The Eve Mahlab AO Gender-wise Philanthropy, and International Philanthropy.

The 2021 Awards ceremony and a full list of recipients and their projects and partnerships can be found here.

The Australian Philanthropy Awards were generously supported by our Award partners: Macquarie Group, Australian Communities Foundation, Australian Community Philanthropy, the Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal, the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation, Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network, Australians Investing in Women, Eve Mahlab AO, Ninti One Limited, Australian Council for International Development and Australian International Development Network. 

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