Snow family honoured with two 2018 Australian Philanthropy awards
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Snow family honoured with two 2018 Australian Philanthropy awards

From helping to affect national change through the marriage equality vote to giving a hand up to some of the community's most vulnerable - domestic violence survivors - the Snow family of Canberra has been there and has been rewarded for their efforts.

The Snow Foundation and the Tom Snow and Brooke Horne Family Trust were both honoured with awards at the 2018 Australian Philanthropy Awards presented at the Sydney Opera House on Thursday night.

Miner Andrew Forrest and his wife Nicole received the night’s top honour, the Philanthropy Leader of the Year Award.

"Accidential activists'': Canberra husbands Brooke Horne and Tom Snow dedicated three years of their lives to the marriage equality campaign

"Accidential activists'': Canberra husbands Brooke Horne and Tom Snow dedicated three years of their lives to the marriage equality campaignCredit:Janie Barrett

Canberra couple Tom Snow and Brooke Horne won the the Award for Best Large Grant for their seed funding of what became the Equality Campaign and contributed to almost 62 per cent of Australians voting last November to legalise same-sex marriage. Their initial contribution led to nearly $20 million being raised by cash and in-kind donations for the "yes'' campaign. Most of the more than 10,000 cash donations were from the grassroots, ordinary men and women who wanted all citizens treated equally in the marriage debate, Mr Snow said.

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“This award is a huge honour that we share with every single person who donated money or time to
achieve marriage equality,” Mr Horne said.

“The Equality Campaign was the result of significant philanthropic leadership that gave strength to
the thousands of everyday Australians who were willing to stand up and push for fairness and
equality.”

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The Snow Foundation for the Women's Centre for Health Matters won the best small grant award for providing the initial funding of what became a program of micro-loans to survivors of domestic violence to help them get ahead, whether by paying for a rental bond to meeting legal expenses.

The foundation is headed by Tom Snow's sister sister Georgina Byron and the foundation was started by their father, Terry Snow and uncle, George Snow.

Both Tom Snow and Georgina Byron wanted the awards to reflect the work of many, not a few, and said humility was a value the family embraced.

"Our family has always been high on compassion and high on human rights and the importance of being collaborative with our community,'' Ms Byron said

"We've always had that strong commitment and work ethic, it's just been instilled in us: work hard and support others and be present. We've had a very special upbringing, you can't shy away from that, and with that comes  a bit of responsibility, I feel.''

The Philanthropy Leader of the Year Award went to Nicola and Andrew Forrest,  emphasising "the potential of philanthropy to catalyse long-term change''.

The Philanthropy Leader of the Year Award went to Nicola and Andrew Forrest, emphasising "the potential of philanthropy to catalyse long-term change''.Credit:Bloomberg

Philanthropy Australia CEO Sarah Davies said the  leadership demonstrated by this year’s awardees reflected the best of contemporary philanthropic practice.

“The recipients of the 2018 awards truly showcase the capacity of philanthropy to contribute to
meaningful social change,” Ms Davies said. “Some of the projects recognised at these awards have changed our national landscape forever.''

Mr Snow and Mr Horne were married in New Zealand in April, 2015. They now have three children - seven-year-old twins and a three-year-old.

Mr Snow said he and Mr Horne were "accidental activisits'' who "fell into the marriage equality campaign''.

"It started in August, 2015 when [Liberal MP] Warren Entsch was introducing a [marriage equality] bill into the Liberal Party room. We as a family - that's me and Brooke, but the whole Snow family - wanted to support that,'' he said.

The family put pro-marriage equality advertising in the Canberra Airport terminal - and lit it up in rainbow colours - for politicians coming and going from the national capital to see.

When the marriage equality postal vote was announced, the couple was energised - and worried about the impact of the rhetoric back and forth during the debate.

"We've got three children and we were deeply afraid as a family of the impact that would have, the impact on our kids, but also young gay and lesbian Australians and their families. So we said, 'We will step in and help','' Mr Snow said.

Their initial donation led to the marriage equality campaign being professionally coordinated  and $20 million in cash and in-kind donations, with the Snow Foundation, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce and Optus chairman Paul O'Sullivan giving significant amounts.

Snow Foundation CEO Georgina Byron said the award was another testament to Canberra's caring community.

Snow Foundation CEO Georgina Byron said the award was another testament to Canberra's caring community.

Meanwhile, Ms Byron said the micro-loans to domestic violence survivors were for up to $5000 and were repaid within three years. The program was launched a year ago and since then 23 loans had been written.

Ms Byron said the loan program was a collaborative effort and the award was shared by many.

"I also love that is shows what great community Canberra is and what a caring community we are. The whole community was part of it,'' she said. "I feel like it's an award for Canberra.''

Megan Doherty is a reporter for The Canberra Times

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