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Esteemed philanthropist, business leader, advocate and commentator Carol Schwartz AO has been recognised with the nation’s highest philanthropic honour, the ‘Leading Philanthropist’ award presented today at the 2020 Australian Philanthropy Awards.

The Leading Philanthropist award recognises an individual philanthropist whose work is visionary, high impact and transformative. As the 2020 Leading Philanthropist, Carol embodies Philanthropy Australia’s vision of a ‘more giving Australia’.

Philanthropy Australia CEO, Sarah Davies, recognised Carol’s outstanding contribution to philanthropy, and her insights into giving, community, leadership and gender.

“Carol has made an incredible contribution and demonstrates the positive community change that can be achieved through strategic, innovative and forward-thinking philanthropy.

“Carol has spent her life focused on strengthening gender equality, creativity, sustainability and social justice within Australian society. Carol is courageous and entrepreneurial in her philanthropic approach and uses a range of levers for impact – grant making, partnerships, investments, networks, new initiatives and organisations, and skills and expertise via boards and mentoring.

“She is highly skilled in identifying innovative solutions for change and is regularly involved in catalysing successful new organisations which support both giving and education for transformative change – organisations such as Our Community, Women’s Leadership Institute of Australia, Scale Investors, Property Male Champions of Change, and Creative Partnerships Australia.

“She fundamentally believes in the value of more female leaders, particularly in business, politics and the media. This is about optimising outcomes for Australia by ensuring that men and women together share power, leadership and decision making. Carol role models this in her professional life, and as Chair of the Trawalla Foundation and Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, she has introduced a range of practical interventions, including Pathways to Politics Program for Women, the Panel Pledge, and the Women for Media database,” Sarah said.

“In 2020, Australian philanthropy has shown a generous and flexible response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a recent survey of members showing 81% of respondents have changed or adapted their funding and
63% have established new COVID-19 granting programs. Philanthropy will continue to play a critical role in the ongoing response to the pandemic and its ripple effects throughout the community. By recognising and celebrating extraordinary achievements in philanthropy during these tough times we aim to drive hope and optimism for recovery, and inspire strategic, transformative, and generous giving.”

While Carol’s formal roles are well known, much generosity also happens quietly behind the scenes – providing advice and guidance, connecting people and organisations, unlocking the potential of others, and advocating for change.

In accepting the Leading Philanthropist Award, Carol said she has always seen philanthropy as a way to invest in ideas and leaders, and to catalyse and collaborate to create positive impact. 

“I am really delighted and honoured to accept the Leading Philanthropist Award and to join a cohort of other wonderful Australian philanthropists. Thank you to the judges; Sarah Davies and her team at Philanthropy Australia,” Carol said.

“To me, philanthropy is a way to invest in ideas and leaders, and to catalyse and collaborate to create positive impact. My husband Alan and I established the Trawalla Foundation in 2004 and since then we have gone on a journey from more informal and emotionally driven giving to something that is strategic and long term. Today we aim to use all of the levers we have access to including corpus investments, skills, networks, mentoring and advocacy, so that we can deepen the impact of the individuals and organisations that we work with.

“As you may know, I’m passionate about the value of more female leaders, particularly in business, politics and the media. Some of the Foundation’s best philanthropy has been in this space, such as founding the highly successful Pathways to Politics Program for Women with the University of Melbourne, and then expanding into Queensland with QUT. I also established the not-for-profit Women’s Leadership Institute Australia to offer examples of practical interventions, such as the Women for Media database and the Panel Pledge to support a more equitable Australia.

“2020 has been a year like no other. We are living in very unusual and difficult times. It has been incredibly heartening to see the Australian philanthropic community rise to the challenge and adapt and grow their support for the social sector. The sector will have a significant role to play in the coming months and years, and I look forward to being part of bold and collaborative philanthropy with you all.”

The Australian Philanthropy Awards recognise and celebrate extraordinary achievements in contemporary philanthropy. They also celebrate partnerships between philanthropy and for-purpose organisations and honour those who are working to create lasting, positive change.

Awards were presented across nine categories: Leading Philanthropist, Better Philanthropy, Bolder Philanthropy, Best Grant Program, Community Philanthropy, Environmental Philanthropy, Indigenous Philanthropy, Gender-wise Philanthropy and International Philanthropy.

The full list of recipients and more details on their projects will be available on the  Philanthropy Australia website on 17 November, following the screening of the public Australian Philanthropy Awards  ceremony at 3pm AEDT.

Download the full Media Release

Philanthropy Australia is the peak body of philanthropy, serving a community of funders, social investors and social change agents working to achieve positive social, cultural, environmental and community change by leveraging their
financial assets and influence.