Collaborative, nimble and responsive philanthropy and partnerships that have delivered vital impact during one the globe’s most challenging times were the theme of this year’s awards.

The Australian Philanthropy Awards ceremony was held today, and the winners are in!

The awards recognise and celebrate extraordinary achievements in contemporary philanthropy for work that is visionary, high impact and transformative. They also celebrate partnerships between philanthropy and for-purpose organisations and honour those who are working to create lasting, positive change.

The award categories and winners are:

Leading Philanthropist 

(Australian philanthropy’s highest honour awarded to an individual)

Tim Fairfax AC

In the words of Ann Johnson, Co-Chair Philanthropy Australia:

“It would be hard to think of someone who has made more of a contribution to rural and regional Australia, but his impact goes way beyond the bush.”

“Not only has he been a long-time supporter of the nation’s farmers and farming communities, but he has also funded and advocated for organisations involved in education, arts and culture, and many other areas.”

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

“Indeed, there are few areas of Australian life that have not been touched by his or his family foundation’s philanthropy.”

Better Philanthropy Award

Fay Fuller Foundation

Recognised for its work with Our Town, an 11-year, $15 million mental health initiative, funded by the foundation in partnership with The Australian Centre for Social Innovation (TACSI) and Clear Horizon.

Shaped with regional communities for regional communities, Our Town aims to build the capabilities of regional towns in South Australia to develop community-based responses to mental health and wellbeing with an eye to scaling what works and influencing regional policy.

Bolder Philanthropy Award

Gandel Foundation

The Gandel Foundation win this award for the second year in a row. In 2021 the foundation has received the accolade for its long-standing philanthropic partnership with Smiling Mind, a charity pioneering the use of technology and mindfulness to strengthen young people’s mental wellbeing. Gandel Foundation’s support enabled Smiling Mind to build, prototype and test its mobile app – in its early development stage – for children and schools. Initial funding also supported work on extensive curriculum mapping for the initiative.

From that early support, the Smiling Mind schools program was born. It now provides an extensive range of mindfulness-based social and emotional learning resources for children, teachers and parents, a world-class teacher training program and a virtual learning hub that is accessible to teachers across Australia and globally.

Best Grant Program Award

COVID-19 Rapid Advocacy Fund

This fund is a joint initiative between the Australian Communities Foundation, Australian Progress and the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS).

The fund was created in March 2020 in the early stages of the pandemic to help create a pool of funds that could be used for strategic advocacy for 25 grassroots organisations. Its success leveraged the power of lived local experience to help shape important policy discussions. The fund demonstrated nimble grant-making that has made a difference by unlocking small grants that make significant and lasting impact.

Community Philanthropy Award

Inner North Community Foundation

Recognised for its COVID-19 Disaster Relief Fund, which has distributed close to $400,000 to 142 community groups and charities across Melbourne’s inner-north. Funds have supported activity that includes food relief to more than 2500 families, school and employment programs, and support for small businesses to enable people to both work and learn from home.

Environmental Philanthropy Award

The Limb Family Foundation

For their support of the Guardian Australia Environmental Investigations Team, to whom the Limb Family Foundation has made a significant multi-year grant of $600,000 over a four-year period.

The foundation is spending down its corpus through its philanthropy and will be wound up in 2022. This decision directly reflects the urgency that the foundation’s directors feel about mitigating climate change and protecting the environment for future generations. Through the wind-up, the foundation has intentionally focused its resources on environmental projects. Since 2019, the foundation’s funding has allowed Guardian Australia to undertake forensic, deep Environmental Investigations that go beyond what’s possible in the everyday news cycle.

Indigenous Philanthropy Award

CAGES Foundation

Receiving the award in recognition of their support of the Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation, a remote Aboriginal health service. These two organisations have been working together to give Aboriginal children in far-west NSW the best possible start in life, by funding programs for 5-year-olds and under.

‘Maari Ma’ is a Paakantyi word meaning ‘people working together’ and the ethos is personified by this partnership. The CAGES Foundation have been applauded for their long-term approach, informed by getting to know Maari Ma deeply and being responsive and flexible to their needs.

International Philanthropy Award

Arup engineering

Who collaborated with Engineers Without Borders to respond to the devastating impact of Cyclone Harold on Vanuatu in 2020.

To succeed the response had to be culturally and environmentally appropriate; the infrastructure solutions had to be easy to build from locally sourced labour and materials; menstrual hygiene management had to be considered; and the risks and requirements associated with the COVID-19 pandemic had to be factored in.

Arup’s team in Melbourne worked virtually with the Vanuatu Ministry of Health and locals to assess pre-existing strategies and responses, draft emergency guidelines, and design emergency sanitation units. It’s been a complicated process, but one rich with opportunities.

The Eve Mahlab AO Gender-wise Philanthropy Award

Trawalla Foundation

Recognised for its highly strategic investment in the Pathways to Politics Program for Women, a collaboration between the Women’s Leadership Institute of Australia and the University of Melbourne.

Pathways to Politics stood out to the awards selection panel for many reasons; its genuine collaborative and evidence-based approach, its pace of change, its sustainability and scalability, its focus on diversity, and a commitment to a multi-partisan approach program. The project has already driven electoral success – 45 alumni have run for election or pre-selection and 14 were elected to local state and federal governments.


Our congratulations to all award winners whose philanthropy and partners inspire us all. Congratulations also to Philanthropy Australia on delivering another successful Australian Philanthropy Awards – virtually!

To read more about all of this year’s winners, click here.


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