Dick Smith inspires Canberrans to make a difference

Published on 23 November 2012

Over 250 people from business, government and local community organisations gathered to hear an inspiring address from Dick Smith focused on the incredible impact philanthropy is having around the world and in Australia.  The Chief Minister joined with guest speaker Dick Smith in encouraging a more enlightened approach to philanthropy.

Dick Smith took the opportunity of the lunch to remind all that we each have a responsibility to be generous; at the same time he challenged the wealthy to think again about how they can use some of their wealth for good.

“What is the point of great wealth if it is not used for a good purpose. When I was growing up it was a given that the wealthy were also philanthropists.  In the US I know that attitude still prevails.  Why not in Australia, and why not here in Canberra, a city with high average wages and a fantastic standard of living?” Mr Smith said.

The event was designed to facilitate connections between community organisations and individuals and businesses that might be able to support them to do their great work.

“Hands Across Canberra was launched in November 2010 with 25 organisations registered on our giving portal and I am pleased to announce that there are now nearly 100 organisations profiled on the website that people can donate to,” said Mr Allan Williams, Chair of the Hands Across Canberra Foundation.

“Many of the organisations are represented here today and this event provides an important opportunity for all of us to learn more about the need in our community, what these exceptional organisations are doing to help ease some of the strain, and what more can be done.

“Since we launched, we have been listening to the needs of our local community organisations, and also to individuals and businesses, and are now looking at ways that we might help to overcome some of the barriers to engaging with each other to achieve great things in our town,” Mr Williams said.

During the event, Mr Allan Williams presented six local community organisations with grants to assist them in building their capacity to help people in need in our community. [Details below]

“I am delighted to be presenting this support to such deserving organisations. Hands Across Canberra hopes to build its philanthropic funds to be able to support more local community organisations in the future, particularly those that find it difficult to attract government or other funding.

“This support is made possible through the contributions of generous donations and corporate table sponsors of today’s event.

“I am delighted to confirm today that John Hindmarsh of Hindmarsh has committed another $10,000 donation to the Foundation and the Snow Foundation donated $5,000.  John Hindmarsh and Georgina Byron also make invaluable contributions to the organisation as Board Members,” Mr Williams said.

For further information or to make a donation to a local community organisation, visit If you have any inquiries, please email

View photos of the event

See The Canberra Times article from 23 November 2012: Smith takes new tack in outing stingy bankers

See ACT Chief Minister’s media release

About the Grants

  1. Friends of Brain Injured Children.  Costs involved in bringing specialists to Canberra throughout 2013, alleviating the need for costly and stressful family visits to Melbourne.  Group and individual sessions are then possible. Value $4,600
  2. Tandem Respite Care.  Assistance with the costs of creating outdoor spaces at Tandem House, a respite care facility in Kambah.  Total cost of the upgrade is over $35,000. Value of the HAC contribution is $5,000 specifically for playground equipment and shade structures.
  3. Dancing Goddesses. A new community organisation seeking to provide networks and exercise for isolated women in the community, and especially for refugee women. $680 is provided to assist with the costs of incorporation.
  4. The Early Morning Centre (a service of UnitingCare Canberra City). A $2,000 to contribute to projects at the Early Morning Centre aimed at addressing social isolation amongst the  city’s homeless, including hosting its  Christmas function.
  5. St John’s Care. $2,000 is being provided for the great work it also does feeding the less privileged at Christmas.
  6. Gungahlin Uniting Church and Community Centre. $5,000 towards setting up a unique community food venture called the The Mustard Seed United Food Pantry. This unique response to providing access to healthy food at reduced costs to those in need.


About Dick Smith

Dick Smith is one of Australia’s most well-known and respected personalities. So much so, that in 2005 the National Trust nominated him as one of “Australia’s Living Treasures.”

Dick Smith is one of Australia’s most recognised individuals. After a successful business career in retailing and publishing, Dick has become well known as a restless adventurer, making many pioneering and record breaking flights by helicopter, aeroplane and balloon.

He has also been active in public service having served as Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority and later as chair of the Civil Aviation Safety Board. He led the National Council for the Centenary of Federation and served as an Ambassador for the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation.

Dick is a passionate supporter of environmental and conservation efforts and since 1995 has been Chairman of the Australian Geographic Society. Less well known is his work as a philanthropist. He is a supporter of many charities and individuals in need. In recognition of this he was honoured as Australian of the Year in 1986.

Dick has never been shy to take on controversial issues, from aviation safety to support for refugees and the campaign to return David Hicks to Australia. Recently he has involved himself in another contentious issue- Australia’s addiction to perpetual growth. Concerned also about our expected rapid population increase, Dick is calling for a national debate on what he considers to be the most important issue facing the nation.  In January 2012, Dick’s work in this field was recognised by Stanford University (USA) through their appointment of Dick as Consulting Professor to the Department of Biology, School of Humanities & Sciences.

In a recent media poll, Dick was rated Number 1 person to ‘go to’ if a quote was needed.  He has a lot to say and this #1 ranking confirms what we all know, that Dick has a point of view and his views are thoughtful and he always generates a community reaction. We are very grateful for his contribution to the Hands Across Canberra event.