16 June 2022
On United Nations World Oceans Day, 300 of Australia’s top philanthropists, VIPs and leading conservationists gathered on Sydney Harbour for the inaugural Sapphire Dinner.
The event raised $1.2 million to support the critically underfunded area of ocean conservation, specifically those organisations working to protect the Great Barrier Reef for future generations.
Alongside presenting partner Tiffany & Co., The Sapphire Project has a mission to Protect What Is Precious®, educating and inspiring the Australian community to unite in taking action to protect our oceans.
With the generous support of sponsors who covered all event costs, 100 percent of every dollar raised on the night (including ticket sales) will go directly to organisations involved in research, rehabilitation and education to support the Great Barrier Reef.
Held harbourside at the Overseas Passenger Terminal with lighting installations to rival those of Vivid, the entire event was carbon-zero with organic, sustainable menus.
Guests who walked the blue carpet to attend included Tiffany & Co. friends of the House, Victoria Lee and Maddison Brown, Sapphire ambassadors Ian Thorpe AM and Jarrod Scott, Sapphire committee member Sophia Forrest and her fiancé Zara Zoe, MC Giaan Rooney as well as Michael Klim, Penelope Seidler AM, Nadia Fairfax, Monika Tu, Olivia Wirth, Lorraine Tarabay, Luke Sales and Anna Plunkett, Maree and Peter Andrews, Camille Walker and Angela Fleming.
“The ocean provides the oxygen for every second breath we take,” said Ian Thorpe AM. “Our coast is intimately linked to our national economy, industry, arts, social lifestyle and cultural identity, with more than 85 percent of Australians living within 50 kilometres of the sea.
“In 2022, the Sapphire Dinner will raise funds to help us protect our precious oceans and conserve our national treasure, the Great Barrier Reef. It’s time to give back.”
Joining guests on the blue carpet included Sapphire Committee members Ryan Gollan (Chair), Hayley Baillie, Clare Ainsworth Herschell, Susan Wynne, Brioney Prier, Kate Champion, Chong Chua and Sapphire First Nations Leader Phil Rist, as well as Sapphire’s Ocean Ambassadors Julia Wheeler, Ace Buchan, Ky Hurst and Billy Bain.
“What I find most empowering is that everyone involved in this project shares the same passion; from our committee to ocean partners, sponsors and production partners, everyone brings to the table their own set of skills and the love for our oceans,” said Ryan Gollan.
In Chinese, there is a saying, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. What we are creating here is a legacy project, a next-gen philanthropy platform in which anyone and everyone can take part. United, we can make a difference, not just for ourselves, but for our future generations.”
Entertainment was by Jess Hitchcock, who sang ocean-inspired songs wearing a Romance Was Born coral dress. Even the dress code was sustainable, with a reduce, re-use, recycle theme.
Less than two percent of all charitable giving in Australia goes to the environment and within this, even less is directed toward the oceans.
The Sapphire Project’s goal is to provide a platform to showcase organisations committed to ocean conservation and connect the Australian philanthropic community to this critically underfunded area.
“It’s time to take action to protect our oceans – we don’t inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children,” said Sophia Forrest, Committee Member for The Sapphire Project.
“Our actions over the next ten years will determine the state of the ocean for the next 10,000 years.”
In 2022, The Sapphire Project’s focus is the Great Barrier Reef. Along with partner ocean organisation The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, the committee is proud to work with the following charitable organisations supporting the reef and our oceans: