Jane Nethercote writes:

Following yesterday’s list of Australia’s wealthy philanthropists, Crikey subscribers were quick to volunteer their own suggestions.

While the earlier list focused on philanthropists from the BRW list,
today, we cast the net wider – and catch some pretty big philanthropic
fish, from Dame Elisabeth Murdoch to Richard Purves.

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we’ve mainly focused on individuals, philanthropy expert Denis Tracey
makes an interesting point: “An even more difficult category is
privately-owned businesses. If Bakers Delight (say) supports the
Australian Breast Cancer Network for five years, should this be
regarded as a company donation or one by the owners, Roger and Lesley
Gillespie? And how do you assess the amount of the donations given in
cash or kind under the partnership? I don’t know the answer to this,
but it needs to be taken into account.”

Here are some additions (in alphabetical order):

  • Clive Berghofer. Could be Queensland’s biggest
    philanthropist, says a subscriber. “You can’t drive through Toowoomba,
    where he was mayor for many years, without finding his name on
    everything. He has donated millions to local schools, the St Vincent’s
    Hospital, Toowoomba Hospice, the University of Southern Queensland
    Toowoomba Campus, Red Cross etc”. He has also donated at least $5
    million to Queensland Institute of Medical Research to assist in
    finding a cure for cancer. The major cancer research centre in
    Queensland, based at the Royal Brisbane Hospital, is named after him –
    the Clive Berghofer Cancer Research Centre. In 2005, he donated $3
    million to charity. BRW: $280 million

  • Joseph Brown. In 2004, the dealer and artist donated the major part of his collection of Australian art to the National Gallery of Victoria – the most generous single gift
    of works of art ever made to a public gallery in Australia. This one of
    course is a bit harder to put a price tag to although it was billed as $30 million worth of art at the time.

  • James Fairfax. One of Australia’s greatest philanthropists. The James Fairfax/Oxford Australia Fund
    to which he contributes in large part was established in 1998 to endow
    scholarships each year for young Australians to go to Oxford University
    for study and research. Also a patron of the Sydney Symphony which runs
    the James Fairfax Young Artist program, an adjunct to the Fellowship
    program which is sponsored by
    James Fairfax and Elizabeth and Robert Albert. The Art Gallery of NSW
    which houses the James Fairfax Gallery is also a major beneficiary of
    Fairfax’s philanthropy. BRW: $300 million

  • Laurence Freedman. The founder of Equitilink (with
    Brian Sherman, another significant philanthropist) contributes to
    music, visual arts, medical research and disadvantaged kids through the
    Freedman Foundation. Funds the Music Council of Australia Freedman
    Fellowships, as well as its Ignite program which takes music
    performances into disadvantaged schools.

  • Jeff and Alina Gambin. Former restaurateur Gambin founded Just Enough Faith
    with wife Alina to feed Sydney’s homeless people. The organisation
    provides more than 400 kilos of wholesome and healthy cooked food for
    more than 400 people on a daily basis as well as legal, medical and
    employment aid. The charity is mostly funded by the Gambins who have
    spent over $7.5 million of their own money since starting the

  • Peter Hall. Chairman and founder of Hunter Hall which has a policy
    of donating 5% of its pre-tax profits to charitable purposes and
    activities that support social or environmental causes. For the year to
    30 June 2005 Hunter Hall International Limited donated over $692,000,
    bringing the total amount donated to charities to over $1.91 million
    since 2001. In a personal capacity, Hall is a Trustee of the Asian
    Rhino Project (which he has funded to a large extent) and the UK based
    charity, the ABC Trust. Donates up to 25% of his personal wealth to charity.

  • Elias Jreissati. The Melbourne businessman donated $1 million to the National Gallery of Victoria in 2002.
  • David Lowy. Robert Phillips writes: “You could include
    in your list David Lowy who bought yet another Spitfire Airplane for a
    cool $2 million, big toys for big boys eh! He gets to keep it (and fly
    if) of course, but we all get to see it at the Aviation Museum
    at Temora where through David’s and the public’s generosity we can all
    see and enjoy an important part of Australia’s aviation history.
    Running such a museum doesn’t come cheap and David Lowy has been an
    important contributor.”

  • Nelson Meers. The former Lord Mayor of Sydney established the Nelson Meers Foundation
    in 2001 to “foster innovative artistic and cultural expression by
    encouraging and supporting cultural organisations and projects that
    advance the visual, performing and literary arts”. The organisation is
    the patron of the 2006 Miles Franklin Award.

  • Harold Mitchell. Like mate Kerry Packer, Australia’s
    leading media buyer is an occasional one-off donor – gave $1.5 million
    out of his own pocket while chairman of the NGA to purchase Lucian
    Freud’s After Cezanne. Also founded the Harold Mitchell Foundation which lists $432,393 of grants in 2005.

  • Dame Elisabeth Murdoch and the Murdoch family. Elisabeth Murdoch’s name is synonymous with Australian philanthropy. And with good reason.
  • Roslyn and Tony Oxley. The couple “call the shots” at
    the benevolent Bushells Foundation, says one subscriber. It’s “so
    discreet about its good deeds (and they are many) that they are most
    often called ‘anonymous’,” says another subscriber. Sydney University’s
    Department of Medicine is apparently a big beneficiary.

  • The Potter Family. Grants approved by The Ian Potter Foundation in 2004-05 totalled $4,538,000 and total payments for the year were $5,890,000.
  • Ros Packer. You have to include her “in her own right”,
    says a Crikey subscriber. “She’s the one who give to arts organisations
    and also forced KP to do it too. But in her own right – she’s an
    increasingly serious giver despite her best efforts to stay under
    radar. Last night at the Wharf she was announced as one of the big
    spenders for the new Ensemble company.”

  • Richard and Jeannie Pratt. Already listed
    but Tony Blackmore has a specific example to add: “An example of Pratt
    generosity is the donation from their company Visyboard of the
    cardboard cartons we use to pack our wheelchairs. Wheelchairsforkids
    uses donations and volunteer labour to make wheelchairs for kids in
    developing countries who have through landmines, congenital defect or
    disease become unable to walk. Last year we made 2,300 chairs. Each
    required a box that would have cost $9. Visyboard supplies them made to
    our spec, with our name and message totally free of charge.” That’s
    $20,700 of value, “just for our little group”. BRW: $5.2 billion

  • Robert Purves. The Australian businessman and conservationist donated $10 million to the World Wide Fund for Nature in 2003. A year earlier, he gave $1.5 million to reduce land clearing.
  • Peter Scanlon. The Chairman and main shareholder of Patrick’s established a foundation, the Scanlon Foundation
    (previously Brencorp) which focuses on providing grants to
    organisations engaged in social science research, especially around the
    issues of cultural diversity and social cohesion. It’s previously
    supported Melbourne-based think tank, Oz Prospect
    where it funded fellowships in cultural diversity and recently gave
    more than $900,000 to the Monash Institute for the Study of Global
    Movements and the Australian Multicultural Foundation to undertake a
    significant research project into the attainment of social cohesion in
    Australia (see here).
    A Crikey subscriber notes: “I am impressed with Peter’s insight into
    the issues facing Australia’s previously successful culturally diverse
    society, and his willingness to put his money in to try to make a real
    difference to the social and cultural development of the nation.” BRW: $430 million

  • Brian Sherman. The Equitilink founder and director of
    the Sydney Olympic Committee is a long-time supporter of art and
    education with gallery owner wife Gene through their donations to the
    University of Sydney’s Schaeffer Library and the establishment of the
    Gene and Brian Sherman Scholarship for the College of Fine Arts, UNSW.
    In addition, Brian and their daughter Ondine founded Voiceless a foundation for the protection of animals. In 2005,The Sherman Foundation gave $600,000-$1 million in grants, says Philanthropy Australia. BRW: $190 million

  • John Singleton. The media guru has “given heaps over
    the years but keeps it quiet (gave an expensive property behind Pearl
    Beach)to a kids’ foundation”, says a subscriber). BRW: $290 million

  • Dick Smith. The entrepreneur and activist donates $1 million a year to charity. Last year, his chosen cause was the tsunami. Dick Smith Foods has a record of corporate philanthropy. Also invests time and money pushing for Australian air safety.

More Austrlian philanthropists? Email [email protected]

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Peter Fray
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