She is known for her philanthropy and her commitment to supporting communities through arts and education, but Nicola Forrest sees herself as “an ordinary Australian doing what I can with what I’ve got”.
The chief executive of the Minderoo Foundation has been awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia for her “distinguished service to the community through philanthropic support for education and the arts, to business and to the community”.
Mrs Forrest was previously awarded the University of Canberra Chancellor’s Award for Services and Philanthropy and was the 2014 West Australian of the Year in the community category, but she said receiving this honour topped it all.
“It’s an incredibly humbling experience because there are so many amazing Australians out there,” she said.
“I’ll be accepting (the honour) on behalf of all the people I work with.
“This is a national award which they give out to ‘exceptional Australians’, but I’m just an ordinary Australian doing what I can with what I’ve got.”
Mrs Forrest, who has been involved in WA’s art scene as a patron for Sculpture by the Sea, the Kimberley Rock Art Foundation and Impact100 WA and as a director of the Black Swan Theatre Company, said arts and culture were crucial for communities.
“Arts and culture underpin a thriving community and for that they need support,” she said.
“I also believe in the importance of education from beginning to end and I’ve been very involved in the early childhood space, because if we equip people when they are young we give them the best opportunity to thrive. And the opportunity to thrive in a community that is vibrant only adds to the strength of our country.”
Mrs Forrest is one of 67 West Australian recipients in this year’s honours.