Carey Medallist 2013
Mr Jeffrey Chapman
In 1965, the School Principal, Mr Cramer, saw something special in a young Jeff Chapman and appointed him to the prestigious position of School Captain. Jeff did not disappoint. He had a stellar year: he excelled in the academic field, was awarded The Senior Henry Meeks Award for Leadership, Scholarship and Games, captained both the First Cricket and Football teams and was also part of the First Athletics team.
Jeff went on to play two games of VFL football for Melbourne under the legendary coach, Norm Smith, and he holds a record that will probably never be beaten. He only had two kicks and both were goals, so you could say every kick he had in his VFL career was a goal!
In his working life, Jeff demonstrated all the hallmarks of a canny businessman as well as an element of being in the right spot at the right time. This led to the creation of a large international business; however in 2000, Jeff was ready for a new challenge. He sold his business and overnight became one of the wealthiest people in Australia.
Jeff and his wife, Carena, were not interested in lying in the sun for the rest of their lives as this was not part of their DNA. Instead, they created an organisation called the Bennelong Group, which has now become a significant company in the competitive world of funds and investment management.
It was the next step that has set Jeff apart from many other self-made wealthy individuals. Jeff and Carena were intent on making sure that the wealth they had created would be used to enhance community wellbeing and provide opportunities for positive and lasting change in our community, so they set up the Bennelong Foundation. Since its inception, the Foundation has built a significant capital base and given away earnings of over $6 million in the areas of medical research, migrant community welfare, crisis support, youth at risk, community health, training and employment, and education.
The Foundation has assisted around 160 charities and community groups including The Song Room, SAIL (photo) Wintringham, Mirabel Foundation, FareShare, Cottage by the Sea, McKillop Family and Mission Australia.
In order to improve the Foundation’s focus on youth, a separate youth committee was established within the Foundation in 2007. The youth committee’s brief is to work with a smaller budget and to consider grants to grass roots organisations in the community.
If that wasn’t enough, Jeff and Carena have also made a commitment that the entire business and assets of the Bennelong Group, which currently stand at around $500 million, will one day be entirely owned by the Foundation.
It was clear to the Carey Medal Committee that Jeff and Carena are driven by a desire to make sure their good fortune is spread as widely as possible amongst organisations that work to enhance community wellbeing.
Very few people are ever going to be in Jeff’s financial position but even fewer are going to take the kind of leadership role that Jeff, and his wife Carena, have taken by making sure a large part of their substantial wealth is shared widely in the community in a sustainable, beneficial and long lasting way.
Jeff and his passionate employees are creating a successful corporate company that will eventually be owned and managed by the Bennelong Foundation, and this will provide important support for many worthwhile community organisations well into the future. This is a unique model and one that Jeff hopes others will replicate over time.
Carey has a very strong commitment to community service and the Carey Medal Committee believes Jeff demonstrates this admirably. We hope that everyone in the Carey community will be inspired by Jeff’s leadership and commitment to make a difference. The actual financial level of his contribution is not as important as the message it sends: that we all have a responsibility to help others less fortunate, if and when the opportunity arises.