'Twiggy' Forrest just made a $400 million donation, the largest by a living person in Australian history

Fortescue mining boss Andrew Forrest. Photo: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest just made the biggest philanthropic donation by a living person in Australian history.

The Fortescue chairman and his wife, Nicola, gave $400 million to a variety charities at an event alongside prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and Opposition leader Bill Shorten in Canberra.

Here’s where the funds are going:

  • $75 million for co-ordinating world cancer institutes
  • $50 million for building stronger communities
  • $75 million for higher education and break-through research
  • $75 million towards giving every child their best chance
  • $50 million towards creating equality of opportunity among all Australians
  • $75 million towards removing modern slavery

“This is real leadership, this is leading by example,” said Turnbull after confirming the donation today.

“It is a a game-changer in the philanthropic community and it will change the lives of thousands of people here in Australia and around the world.”

Before the announcement, Twiggy told Fairfax the donation, in the presence of the country’s leaders, “signals the commitment of the public and private sectors to work together in supporting initiatives to create healthier and more educated citizens, boost employment, and facilitate thriving, robust communities”.

Speaking at the event, where guests included Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman, Forrest said that he was proud of the Australian community’s love for philanthropy and the local community.

He reflected on a time where his company had to borrow money in order to give to charity but now “thanks to the strength of the iron ore sector and the leadership of this country,” he was fortunate enough to donate straight from the business.

He also thanked his daughter Grace, who inspired the Walk Free Foundation, a charity working towards ceasing modern slavery.

“I’ll just simply say to all Australians, give what you can and if it isn’t money time is just as valuable,” he said.

Forrest’s wife, Nicola the most important part of this donation was showing that philanthropy could be both focused and flexible.

“We will never replace public funding,” she said, “but what we can do is work in partnership.

“What this donation does is it allows us to challenge the norm… be innovative and creative”.

To date, the largest donations in Australia have come from deceased estates, or from large corporations.

The late Paul Ramsay donated $3 billion to the Ramsay Foundation to address health, education and disadvantage.

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