Voting now open for 2021 Pro Bono Australia Impact 25 Awards
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Voting now open for 2021 Pro Bono Australia Impact 25 Awards

by Freya Lucas

February 01, 2021

Voting for the Pro Bono Australia 2021 Impact 25 Awards is now open, allowing people to nominate the social sector’s most influential leaders, many of whom may intersect with the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector in their work with children and families. 


A shortlist of 150 people has been created from more than 400 nominations, with each list member recognised for their efforts in creating positive change amid the turbulent events of the past 12 months.


Pro Bono Australia Founder and CEO Karen Mahlab AM encouraged the general public to vote, and recognise the work of those who strive to improve the lives of others. 


“Over the past six years, the Impact 25 Awards have done what they first intended to do: showcase a steady stream of individuals, largely unnamed and largely unacknowledged working in our communities,” Ms Mahlab said.


“Over 400 nominees were put forward for the awards this year – our highest ever. It’s now back to all of us to vote and show our appreciation for their great work.”


In the child and family advocacy space, the following nominees, whose work intersects with the ECEC sector, have been shortlisted: 


Leanne Barron, CEO, Starick Services; Leanne is regarded by her peers in the Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) sector as someone who has a sound understanding of the issues associated with domestic violence, it’s impact on women and in particular the children who are affected. Leanne has worked tirelessly with government to ensure that funding is appropriate to the needs of clients. She believes that children are clients of Starick in their own right and require a greater policy, funding and service response to meet their needs. 


  • Isaiah Dawe, CEO and Founder, ID. Know Yourself; Isaiah Dawe is a leader within the Indigenous children-in-care space. At the young age of 26, he uses his own personal experiences of being in foster care by revolutionising the experiences of other Indigenous children in care by providing culturally safe and trauma informed, Indigenous led mentoring services where the children establish belonging, discover purpose, and are empowered with positive decisions. 


  • Megan Donnell, CEO, Childhood Dementia Initiative; Megan is a serial social entrepreneur. Following the diagnosis of her two children with Sanfilippo syndrome, she established the Sanfilippo Children’s Foundation driving over $9 million into research for this little known and poorly understood genetic condition.  


  • Mark Fitzpatrick, CEO, Telethon Speech and Hearing; as CEO of Telethon Speech & Hearing, Mark Fitzpatrick has grown the organisation to support 3,000 children with hearing loss, or speech and language delays, across WA. As Chair of First Voice, he seeks to improve outcomes for deaf children in Australia, NZ, UK, and South Africa, and is involved in national committees on the Medicare Benefits Scheme and Aboriginal ear health.


  • Dr Lisa Griffiths, CEO, OzChild; Lisa’s leadership and direction has had a huge impact on the way OzChild delivers services. This has resulted in more families staying together through the evidence based services and practices we have taken on. She not only talks of a vision where children are safe, respected and nurtured to reach their full potential but she delivers on this by providing the tools and guidance to the team delivering the services.


  • Kartik Iyer, CFO, AbilityMade; Kartik Iyer is a strong advocate for the role business and finance can play in solving some of our most complex social challenges. He is currently the CFO at AbilityMade, a social enterprise that uses technology to empower children with disabilities.


  • Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, President and Executive Director, Blue Knot Foundation; Dr Cathy Kezelman is a medical practitioner, mental health consumer advocate and child abuse survivor. Over the last 20 years she has led the growth and influence of Blue Knot Foundation – National Centre of Excellence for Complex Trauma, previously ASCA. She has driven systems change advocating for greater understanding and comprehensive policy and practice change to respond to the needs of Australians experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation as a child, or adult.


  • Caroline Liuzzi, Founder, Creative Art Therapies Australia; Caroline founded the organisation to support children (and their families) who are facing end of life or have suffered trauma.


  • Dr Robyn Miller, CEO, MacKillop Family Services; A program to help young people in out of home care (OOHC) who are at risk of child sexual abuse is the culmination of a lifetime’s work for Dr Robyn Miller. Power to Kids teaches kids – and the staff who work with them – strategies to recognise and intervene early when they are the targets of harmful sexual behaviour, child sexual exploitation and dating violence.


  • Dr Joe Tucci, CEO, Australian Childhood Foundation; Joe has been the CEO for the Australian Childhood Foundation for over 25 years. Joe has made a measurable impact as a passionate advocate for children and their rights. As the CEO of the ACF Joe has guided and grown an organisation from a couple of staff to one which today has almost 200 staff.


The 25 nominees with the most votes will be crowned the Impact 25 Award winners. From this 25, a panel of judges will also choose a winner in each of the following three categories: Innovator, Influencer, and Collaborator.


Voting for the 2021 awards closes on 10 February, with the winners announced on 25 March. 


For more information, please see here. Votes may be cast here

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