Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest is the billionaire iron ore miner who has increasingly developed a reputation as a philanthropist who wants to use his wealth to help the less fortunate.
He has publicly pledged to donate the majority of his wealth to charity rather than leave it to his children.
Now Forrest is in the running to be Australian of The Year after being named West Australia’s state winner.
He has campaigned and worked to end modern slavery and Indigenous disparity in Australia.
Forrest founded Anaconda Nickel Ltd, now known as Minara Resources, in 1994, before founding Fortescue Metals Group in 2003, the world’s fourth largest and Australia’s third-largest iron ore miner behind BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto.
He is currently chairman of Fortescue, having stepped down as CEO in 2011 to focus on philanthropic work.
The 55-year-old and his wife Nicola established the Minderoo Foundation in 2001, with the ethos that “by giving a hand up, not a hand out, we can empower communities”.
Minderoo has supported more than 250 initiatives both within Australia and internationally, including fighting modern slavery, ending Indigenous disadvantage, and ensuring all children in Australia “thrive by five”.
The Forrests and daughter Grace founded the Walk Free Foundation in 2012, which aims to end slavery, which affects more than 45 million people.
They helped organise the signing of a declaration between major world religions to publicly reject slavery.
The foundation also developed the Global Slavery Index, a global estimate of slavery with country by country data.
The father-of-three was once Australia’s richest man when his wealth peaked at $12.7 billion in June 2008 and is still a multi-billionaire.
— AusoftheYearAwards (@ausoftheyear) January 24, 2017
He is the first Australian to join the pledge, an initiative started by Warren Buffet and Bill and Melinda Gates, for the world’s wealthiest to commit the majority of their wealth to philanthropy.
Mr and Mrs Forrest wrote in their commitment letter that “our aim is to significantly improve people’s lives through encouraging freedom, education, training and opportunity, thereby providing them with the greatest gift of all – individual personal empowerment and freed from poverty.