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Australia’s Top Philanthropist Announced


20 April 2016 at 8:52 am
Lina Caneva
High profile businesswoman and founder of the Adara Group, Audette Exel AO, has been named the 2016 leading philanthropist in the annual awards by Philanthropy Australia.

Lina Caneva | 20 April 2016 at 8:52 am


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Australia’s Top Philanthropist Announced
20 April 2016 at 8:52 am

High profile businesswoman and founder of the Adara Group, Audette Exel AO, has been named the 2016 leading philanthropist in the annual awards by Philanthropy Australia.

Audette Exel is founder of the Adara Group, a corporate finance for-purpose business that funds the core support costs of the Adara Foundation, which works with communities in Nepal and Uganda to deliver essential services for women and children.

Exel is a lawyer, specialising in international finance. She is a former managing director of Bermuda Commercial Bank and chair of the Bermuda Stock Exchange. She was the NSW Telstra Businesswoman of the Year 2012 and was one of The Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence in 2012.

In 2013, Exel was awarded an honorary Order of Australia for services to humanity and in 2014 was recognised by Forbes as a “Hero of Philanthropy”. In 2014 she was an inaugural Pro Bono Australia Impact 25 recipient.

Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davies told Pro Bono Australia News that there were many worthy finalists in this year’s top award and the judges had looked at what they had all achieved in the last 12 months.

“What the judging panel saw in Audette was a really profound integration of the core values of philanthropy with expert research and partnering in terms of the core issues that Audette and Adara want to address,” she said.

Davies said there was “real expertise and very authentic and deep partnerships with the communities that  Adara was working with as well as a sustainable business model about integrating [the philanthropy] into the business”.

The award for philanthropic innovator and pioneer in the “business for purpose” field saw Gemma Salteri, from the CAGES Foundation receive the 2016 Emerging Philanthropist Award.

The award citation described Salteri as a next generation philanthropic leader and public voice for the democratisation of giving and impact investment.

Davies said what was really exciting about what Salteri represented was the way that Australia’s new generation philanthropists were taking the best of the heritage and the legacy and the rigour while creating new models and new approaches to get different cut through.

“There’s a sense of how do we extend all the dollars that play in the philanthropic mix beyond the dollars that are available for grant making…and she has been a real leader in that,” Davies said.

The winners were announced at an awards ceremony in Melbourne on Tuesday night.

Philanthropy Australia said the criteria for selection focused on philanthropy that was visionary, high impact, transformative, and possessing defining qualities such as commitment, courage, and entrepreneurship.

“The Philanthropy Awards recognise unique achievements in Australian philanthropy and the ways more and better philanthropy has been advanced by individuals and organisations across Australia,” Sarah Davies said.

“The Awards attracted a remarkably strong field of more than 50 nominees and it is an outstanding achievement for the seven award recipients to have been selected. The panel of judges, who are all qualified and experienced leaders in the philanthropy sector had a very tough job, and our thanks go to them.

“Award winners are now recognised as leaders, inspiring potential and current philanthropic individuals and organisations to help our society grow and thrive.”

There were two winners of the 2016 Best Large Grant of the Year Award. The Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation for CareerTrackers – a program strengthening career pathways for Indigenous Australian university students – and James and Diana Ramsay Foundation and The Wyatt Trust for working together to enhance school retention and education re-engagement

The 2016 Best Small Grant of the Year Award (less than $50,000pa) went to the Australian Communities Foundation for its Refugee and Asylum Seeker Giving Circle.

The 2016 Gender-wise Philanthropy Award also had two winners – the Barr Family Foundation

for their support of McAuley Community Services for Women’s pioneering Court Support 4 Kids program and John Dyson and Rose Gilder, the Trustees of the Dyson Bequest for their leadership in the area of gender equity initiatives for female scientists.

More information on the 2016 Philanthropy Awards can be found here.


Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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