'I Want to Help People': Packer Heir's UNICEF Mission Charts New Legacy for Billionaire Family

(A Current Affair) - The male heir to James Packer's $4.5 billion family fortune, Jackson Packer, was born as Australia's richest baby.

Entering a dynasty of newspapers, television, casinos and wealth, with his birth came the belief he would continue the tradition of male sons taking over the family empire.

Now 14 years old, Jackson is determined to chart a new legacy for the next generation of one of Australia's most well-known families.

"I had so much growing up, I'm so thankful for that," Jackson said.

"I want to help people, I want to have an impact on people's lives ... I don't want to be just another cloud in the wind."

His mother Erica Packer - a UNICEF Australia ambassador for 15 years - wants her son to see firsthand that life isn't always delivered on a silver platter.

"Australia as a country is very privileged - our family in particular is very privileged," Erica said.

"It's really important for me that the kids grow up really understanding that sense of responsibility."

The Packers travelled to Moldova with UNICEF on a mission to try and help refugee children.

"These kids they've been stripped to have nothing," Jackson said.

"It's better if we can all share what we have and make life easier for these kids going through an incredibly hard time."

Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe and is now home to tens of thousands of Ukrainians who fled harm's way when war erupted two years ago.

More than one million refugees have passed through Moldova and 100,000 remain there, half of whom are children.

"It's definitely shown and broadened my scope of things," Jackson said.

"You see these children who have been displaced and they have to run away and you see them at the camps and they're still smiling, they're still playing.

"It's not just the little things that count - it shows how the little things we obsess about really don't matter."

In Moldova the average wage is less than $1000 per month.

Of the 50,000 refugee children estimated to be there, just 1500 are enrolled in primary or secondary school, and just 575 in preschools.

"It gets to you ... it's like every dollar you donate, that's like an item for a child to play with," Jackson said.

"That might make their day from being sad to being happy."

It's a far cry from his home life, where he lives comfortably in Los Angeles with his mum and sisters Indigo and Emmanuelle.

Back at UNICEF's supply HQ in Copenhagen, the gravity of the work carried out by UNICEF volunteers sinks in as Jackson tries on a bomb vest worn by aid workers in Gaza.

"I feel like I shouldn't be wearing this... I'm not doing enough work," Jackson said.

"I'm not putting my life on the line, I don't think I deserve to wear this."

By A Current Affair Staff
February 17, 2024


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