28/10/2010 - 00:00

Rinehart spreads support around

28/10/2010 - 00:00


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IT was 2007 when Hancock Prospecting chairman and director Gina Rinehart read a harrowing story about Cambodian prostitution and sex slavery.

IT was 2007 when Hancock Prospecting chairman and director Gina Rinehart read a harrowing story about Cambodian prostitution and sex slavery.

It detailed the story of Somaly Mam, a Cambodian woman who had escaped the grip of the country’s brutal sex trade industry to become an activist fighting for the freedom of child prostitutes.

Mrs Rinehart was moved to take action in partnership with anti-human trafficking and exploitation organisation South-East Asia Investigations into Social and Humanitarian Activities (SISHA).

Mrs Rinehart is now a member of the expert advisory group for SISHA and has been making donations to the organisation since her involvement began.

“For several years I have donated to assist the plight of young women forced into the cruel sex slave industry in Cambodia, the few fortunate to escape this shocking enterprise,” Mrs Rinehart said at the recent Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

“Many have been kidnapped for this industry; some were sold into it by their impoverished parents. Their plight is hard for Australians to even contemplate.”

Earlier this month, Mrs Rinehart and SISHA announced her development and sponsorship of the HOPE scholarship program, which will enable four of the girls saved from human trafficking to attend university and obtain law degrees.

Mrs Rinehart, who was named Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year in 2009, put part of the money she won for the award towards the HOPE scholarship program, with the rest going to other causes.

“The HOPE scholarships for young women to attend university will change their lives, and help their families’ lives too,” Mrs Rinehart told WA Business News

She said her speech at the Telstra awards led to additional offers of support.

“After my recent speech, another lady living in Australia has also offered to assist with luxury tourist programs for people travelling (to Cambodia) who want to provide some local community support while travelling,” Mrs Rinehart said.

The plight of these young girls is not the only cause Mrs Rinehart supports.

A viewing of a Pilbara artist’s work, featuring a Hancock Prospecting project, prompted her to offer assistance.

“It has been my great pleasure to help other women with the award money I received. The majority of this award money has been utilised in WA, and it has been sent to a talented Aboriginal artist, Irene, who lives and paints in the Pilbara,” Mrs Rinehart told the Telstra awards crowd.

“I have enjoyed getting to know Irene’s work, and a little more of Irene, over a period of years and particularly loved the great feeling for the north-west of our state which she brings to her paintings. Irene was very happy to receive this financial assistance to continue her art. Her magnificent painting depicts sunrise in the Pilbara.”

Mrs Rinehart’s community support stretches further in the Pilbara as well, with the development of an art centre in the north of the state.

“Separately, we are obligated and pleased to be financing (after all approvals) an art centre for local Aboriginal groups in Port Hedland, and looking forward to permission and approvals to build at a suitable site adjacent to the Port Hedland airport,” she said.

Both of these causes have clearly struck a chord with Mrs Rinehart, and were among those selected from the many requests for assistance Hancock Prospecting receives.

Mrs Rinehart said most of her and her company’s support has gone to cancer projects, and some to heart-related causes and hospitals, including the Rinehart Family Floor and Endoscopy Unity at The Bendat Family Comprehensive Cancer Centre.



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