Just months after retiring as Fortescue Metals’ chief executive officer, Andrew Forrest has followed through on his pledge to turn his attention to philanthropy. Greg Johnson reveals the causes the West Australian has supported.

A growing commitment to philanthropy was amongst Andrew Forrest’s reasons for retiring as Fortescue Metals’ chief executive officer in June, and already he’s made three substantial donations totalling $8 million. All three donations were made in the form of shares in the resources company he is most well known for building and continues to chair.

The first of the three donations, all made jointly in the names of Forrest and wife Nicola, was $1.3 million for Murdoch University’s Institute for Immunology and Infectious Diseases – the largest personal donation in the institution’s history. The donation to Murdoch University is recognition of its efforts in battling infectious diseases as a part of a collaborative global network, according to vice chancellor Professor Richard Higgott.

“The Forrests’ donation is an excellent example of this partnership between research and philanthropy, and it will help facilitate a greater implementation of the facilities at IIID to benefit the West Australian community and beyond,” he said.

Just over one week later, two more donations from the Forrests were announced; $3 million for Art Gallery of Western Australia’s Future Fund and $3.7 million to be shared between WA Symphony Orchestra, WA Opera and Black Swan State Theatre Centre.

Speaking of his donations to the arts, Forrest said: “We are fortunate in Western Australia to have an exciting and dynamic arts community and are delighted to support our local arts companies and help them to continue to bring performing arts of the highest calibre to all West Australians.”

Art Gallery of Western Australia established the Future Fund in order to secure the gallery a strong collection of contemporary art. Donations to the other arts organisations will be used in a variety of ways, mainly to support their growth and build capacity, including the completion of the new state ballet centre in Maylands.

Forrest has long had an interest in philanthropy. When he stepped down as Fortescue Metals’ CEO, he told media: “I’ve made no secret that I’ve been spending up to 50 per cent of my time on philanthropic endeavours. I think the responsibility for a chief executive … when you’re spending that much time, you need to step down as chief executive, appoint someone who can really do that job better than you … that’s exactly what I’m doing.”

Greg Johnson

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