James Packer is donating $7 million to UNSW to bolster research into mental health care.
James Packer, Australian billionaire, inherited a fortune and grew it through major investments in casinos, resorts, and media labels. In 2022, he sold his interest in Crown Casinos, one of Australia’s largest gaming corporations, for $3.36 billion Australian, or $2.22 billion USD, making him the fourth richest man in Australia.
His donation of A$7 million to the University of New South Wales is earmarked to establish a new core of academic positions within the school’s medical facility, focused on research into mental health science and care. According to the university, they will focus on the prevention and treatment of mood disorders, which includes anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
Packer has struggled with mental health problems all his life, which he’s been open about to reporters in the past. He revealed a bipolar disorder diagnosis in 2020, two years after resigning from the board of Crown Resorts over mental health issues.
“I am a passionate advocate of finding ways to improve mental health outcomes,” he said to reporters.
“I am hopeful that my contribution towards this research will generate positive outcomes in this field and in so doing significantly improve the lives of people battling mental health issues both in Australia and around the world.”
UNSW chancellor David Gonski said the endowment would accelerate mental health research at the university by funding a new professorial chair position that would lead a research team focusing on mood disorders and bipolar disease.
“The significance of the donation is enormous, and it is a critical time for these roles to be set up in the area of psychiatric research,” Gonski said.
UNSW vice chancellor Attila Brungs said the endowment would support collaborative research and help develop new treatments.
“Research changes people’s lives. We appreciate James Packer’s generous donation, which will enable UNSW researchers to develop new treatments and interventions for people experiencing mental health disorders. Mental health is a pressing global challenge, and this gift will help us make real progress in this area,” Brungs said.
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