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Forrest’s community service honoured

Philanthropist Nicola Forrest, the wife of iron ore billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, has been appointed an officer of the Order of Australia for distinguished service to the community.

Since founding Minderoo Foundation in 2001, the power couple have donated $1.5 billion to its ambitious global causes including ocean health and tackling human rights abuses, especially forced labour – a ubiquitous problem it has raised to prominence in mainstream media.

“The first thing you have to do is draw attention to it,” Forrest said.

To see an oppressed person become liberated was both exhilarating and humbling, she said.

Crediting her Queen’s Birthday honour to a group effort by the Minderoo team, she said the foundation zeroed in on problems needing immediate attention such as cancer, in collaboration with researchers.

Its latest push is to raise the legal tobacco buying age to 21, noting 95 per cent of smokers start before then. Forrest said her social consciousness blossomed growing up in a small NSW community, where banding together was a must.

“Empathy should be part of the DNA of our society. But you also can’t help everybody – you want to be very targeted or you’ll be overwhelmed,” she said.

Other West Australians honoured on Monday were AFL player-turned-coach Ron Alexander, who has been appointed a member of the Order of Australia for significant service to sport and recreation, and to public administration.

Alexander played for Fitzroy for five years from 1976, was the inaugural coach of the West Coast Eagles in 1987 and now chairs the WA government’s Methamphetamine Action Plan Taskforce.

Gavin Bunning, founder of his namesake hardware retail chain, has also been appointed a member of the Order of Australia for significant service to the industry and charitable organisations.

With AAP

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