11/08/2021 - 16:09

Art, family guide giving

11/08/2021 - 16:09

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Art and a tight-knit country family upbringing have helped shape Nicola Forrest’s philanthropic endeavours.

Nicola Forrest spoke to Mark Pownall at a Business News breakfast this morning. Photo: Matt Jelonek

Art and a tight-knit country family upbringing have helped shape Nicola Forrest’s philanthropic endeavours.

Mrs Forrest, who co-founded Minderoo Foundation in 2001, spoke at a Business News Success and Leadership breakfast this morning about her life and her work as co-chair of her foundation.

She told the room she had been heavily influenced by her early life growing up as one of four children on a farm in outback New South Wales where her mum worked as an artist.

“Those early days of doing what you can with what you had is a great way to build resilience,” Mrs Forrest said.

“We were always expected to work hard.

“My father said if you were going to do something, do it better than anyone expects.”

Her two great grandmothers, whom she was close with, also had a positive influence on her life, she said.

It’s this upbringing that contributed to Mrs Forrest’s commitment to Minderoo Foundation’s Thrive by Five initiative, which aims to improve early childhood development.

“If you look at the early years, you’ve got to be able to give those children what they need and a lot of that is giving parents the support they need,” Mrs Forrest told the event.

“It’s one of the hardest jobs anyone can do, I would say.”

Mrs Forrest said while we have good health and education systems in Australia, parents and children were not adequately supported in the important developmental period between being born and going to school.

A lack of vision and long-term planning was to blame for the oversight, she said.

“The biggest asset in the country are our people and therefore our children is where we should be investing but I don’t think it wins votes because it’s a long term investment,” she said.

Mrs Forrest said momentum was beginning to build behind the cause and called for the business community to show its support, which included creating more flexible workplaces for women.

“I think each and every one of us has the power to create this change,” Mrs Forrest said.

“All of us rely on productivity and having the best human assets we can have.”

Read a recent Business News feature on Nicola Forrest and Minderoo Foundation's Thrive by Five initiative here

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