On 29th May, Forbes (www.forbes.com) published their annual “48 Heroes of Philanthropy” feature highlighting the Asia-Pacific region’s most notable givers.
This is my favourite of all the lists as it doesn’t just focus on the magnitude of people’s wealth. In order to be included on this list, philanthropists must have purely altruistic intentions, be strategic and innovative in the way they provide support and have made a powerful impact with their own money.
The following four Australians made the list this year:
Betty Amsden 86 – INVESTOR
Worked as a secretary for 20 years, then developed aged-care homes and invested in real estate and stocks. Has been an active philanthropist for 30 years. Donated $5 million to Melbourne’s Arts Centre to establish the Betty Amsden Arts Education Endowment for Children. In April she made another $1 million pledge to the center over 4 years to fund programs for children. Also supports the Australian Ballet School, Orchestra Victoria and the Royal Women’s Hospital.
John Grill 67 – CHAIRMAN, WORLEYPARSONS
Gave $20 million to the University of Sydney in October to establish a center for training senior executives to lead large-scale engineering projects around the world. After graduating in science and engineering from the university, he cofounded mining engineering giant WorleyParsons in 1971 and was chief executive for 38 years. Stepped down late last year and now chairs the company and the John Grill Centre for Project Leadership.
Frank Lowy 82 – CHAIRMAN, WESTFIELD GROUP
One of the country’s best-known philanthropists. Donations include $30 million to launch a think tank, the Lowy Institute for International Policy, and $10 million to establish the Lowy Cancer Research Centre. Also supports Jewish causes in Australia and Israel. Built his fortune after cofounding global shopping-mall giant Westfield in 1953.
Graham Tuckwell 56 – FOUNDER, ETF SECURITIES
Donated $50 million to Canberra’s Australian National University in February, the largest donation ever by an Australian to a university. Will fund an undergraduate scholarship program to promote academic excellence and good citizenship. Graduated in law and economics from the university in 1981, then started a London-based exchange-traded commodities fund. Hopes to encourage other wealthy Australians to give philanthropically rather than pass fortunes on to children, because “lots of money is poisonous to have.”
These four Philanthropic Heroes along with Andrew and Nicola Forrest (who recently signed the Giving Pledge committing half their wealth to philanthropy) should be commended, not only for their generosity, but also for helping to highlight the generosity of all Australians. It is exciting to finally see Australian philanthropists being recognised internationally for their significant contributions and to see Australia advancing towards being recognised as a global philanthropic leader.