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GUIDE TO GIVING 2016


Philanthropic Family Tops Rich List Ellie Cooper


One of Australia’s greatest philanthropic families, the Smorgons, remains the richest family in the country with wealth estimated at $2.7 billion.


The Smorgon family, based in Melbourne, has topped the BRW’s Rich Families list for the past seven years with diverse investments in property, agriculture, technology and retail, across seven “wings” of the family. Equally diverse are the Smorgon’s


philanthropic activities. Patrons of the arts, they are benefactors of the Victorian Arts Centre and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and the National Gallery of Australia established the Loti and Victor Smorgon Gallery in recognition of their support. The Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre


named a wing after the Smorgons, they are life trustees at Mount Scopus Memorial College, and the Jack & Robert Smorgon Families Foundation donates $30,000 annually to a Victorian research institute nominated by the Premier’s Award for Health and Medical Research. The Jack & Robert Smorgon Families


Foundation was also one of the charities that established the Australian Council for Children and Youth Organisations, to safeguard children from child abuse. David Smorgon, Executive Chairman


of PwC’s Family, Business and Wealth team, told BRW that there was more to family wealth than money. “There is too much emphasis on business matters at the expense of family issues. 99 per cent of most families’ time is spent on the business, this inevitably results in a lack of effective and regular communication between family members. A successful family business requires hard work, commitment, collaboration and understanding,” Smorgon said. “It requires creating a process and infrastructure of open communication, governance and a family plan to provide the framework for family success. It requires understanding that there are options, there are systems and processes that can assist. “So is it time for Australian family


business owners to re-evaluate what rich is, to rebalance their priorities and spend more time with their family, and give their children something that money can’t buy – direction, guidance, support and love? A different kind of rich – a richer life.” Second and third on the list are the


Wilson and Liberman families, worth $2.6 billion and $2.5 billion respectively. The combined wealth of the 50 BRW


Rich Families list was $41.18 billion in 2015, up from $40.1 billion in 2015. The average wealth on the list is $824 million per family, the highest ever result.


Continued from page 8


We usually ask people what inspires them, which I will ask you. But also, what frustrates you?


When the Hawthorn footy club don’t win I get a bit frustrated with that, but I’ve been lucky of late. In terms of inspiring, I had two sets of


grandparents who did a lot of service for the community. Now that didn’t mean much to me when I was a little kid but I guess I was just watching it and then, as I matured


and, mainly through overseas travel, saw the problems around the world and how fortunate Australia is, I guess as a little kid watching the service to community that my four grandparents provided sort of sunk in. My parents also had very strong values and also served in various Not for Profit roles. I was very fortunate I guess to learn about integrity and values from my grandparents and parents. I’m just very conscious that we’re not here for long. I call it the rocking chair test.


When I’m 80 sitting in my rocking chair with my pipe, I want to sit there and think, “yeah Pete, that was ok, you did some good stuff”. I think a lot of people in Australia tend to focus on building the personal balance sheet and for me that’s not terribly satisfying. In terms of what frustrates me, apathy


is the enemy. We have the wealth and intelligence to solve every problem in the world, but we obviously haven’t, and a lot of it is down to apathy. People think it’s just too hard. That frustrates me


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