Nicola Forrest
Chancellor's Award for Service and Philanthropy Winner

Bachelor of Arts (Economics), 1981

Nicola Forrest has truly made an exceptional contribution to the Australian and international community through various philanthropic ventures alongside her husband, Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest.

Nicola is the CEO and pioneer behind the Minderoo Foundation. Established in 2001 it has now become one of Australia's largest philanthropic organisations. Nicola's original motivation towards philanthropy was to help children and especially Indigenous Australians, to dream beyond what their current circumstances and expectations might allow. The focus of her humanitarian work has since expanded to address Indigenous disparity, modern slavery, disadvantaged children, the arts and education.

In addition to initiatives such as GenerationOne - focused on ending Indigenous disparity in Australia through employment; The Walk Free Foundation - focused on ending modern slavery through community mobilisation, business engagement, global research and the scaling up of effective anti-slavery responses; and the Forrest Research Foundation – a pledge of $65 million to support scholarships and research in Western Australian Universities, Nicola has provided considerable support to the art and culture sector. She is the Director of the Black Swan State Theatre and sits on the advisory board of the Jackman Furness Foundation for Performing Arts. She has made an incredible gift of shares valued at $18 million to the WA Symphony Orchestra, WA Opera, Black Swan State Theatre Centre, WA Museum, WA Ballet, Sculpture by the Sea and the Kimberley Foundation Australia to support the companies' sustainability and longevity.

Beyond her own philanthropic initiatives, Nicola has a passion for philanthropy itself and encourages a culture of giving back. Nicola and Andrew are the first Australian signatories of the "Giving Pledge'' - a commitment by the world's wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. The couple advocate, by their example, the use of wealth for the long term achievement of an improved quality of life for the world's least fortunate. To date, over $270 million has been contributed by the Forrest family to charitable causes. 

In October 2014 Nicola was appointed as a member of the Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership, to advise the Government on practical strategies to foster a culture of philanthropic giving, volunteering and investment in Australia. Her focus as a member is on priorities such as eliminating institutional barriers to philanthropic giving; considering the potential of innovative investment models; and building research on trends, education and best practice in the sector.


Arts and Humanities