MINING billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest will make Australia’s single biggest philanthropic donation with $400 million for a variety of social and scientific causes.
The announcement was made this morning at a ceremony hosted by film star Russell Crowe and attended by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at Parliament House in Canberra.
“It will change the lives of thousands of people here in and around the world,” Mr Turnbull said.
This is how the donation will be distributed:
• $75 million for coordinating world cancer institutes to make lethal cancer history for the coming generation.
• $50 million towards building stronger communities.
• $75 million for higher education and breakthrough research.
• $75 million towards giving every child their best chance.
• $50 million towards creating equality of opportunity amongst all Australians.
• $75 million towards removing modern slavery from human history.
Mr Forrest said the $400 million was a very large proportion of what he and his wife Nicola earned.
“We’re doing it because it’s very timely in all of the fields which we’re donating to,” he said.
Mr Forrest admits America has a much stronger philanthropic culture than Australia, but times are changing.
The 55-year-old and his wife Nicola established the Minderoo Foundation in 2001, with the ethos that “by giving a hand up, not a hand out, we can empower communities”.
Minderoo has supported more than 250 initiatives both within Australia and internationally, including fighting modern slavery, ending Indigenous disadvantage, and ensuring all children in Australia “thrive by five”. The Forrests and daughter Grace founded the Walk Free Foundation in 2012, which aims to end slavery, which affects more than 45 million people.
Mr Forrest built his fortune in mining after founding Anaconda Nickel Ltd, now known as Minara Resources, in 1994, before founding Fortescue Metals Group in 2003, the world’s fourth largest and Australia’s third-largest iron ore miner behind BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.
He is chairman of Fortescue, having stepped down as CEO in 2011 to focus on philanthropic work.
This year, he was Western Australia’s finalist for Australian of the Year. One of Australia’s richest men, the late Paul Ramsay, left most of his $3 billion fortune to charity in 2014.