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Impact 25 judges' choice award winners revealed

19 March 2020 at 8:09 am
Wendy Williams
In light of the COVID-19 circumstances, this year’s 2019 Impact 25 awards night was cancelled… but the congratulations live on

Wendy Williams | 19 March 2020 at 8:09 am


Impact 25 judges' choice award winners revealed
19 March 2020 at 8:09 am

In light of the COVID-19 circumstances, this year’s 2019 Impact 25 awards night was cancelled… but the congratulations live on

A trio of the sector’s most influential leaders have been chosen as the winners of the 2019 Impact 25 judges’ choice award.

Greg Mullins AO AFSM, former commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW and climate councillor of the Climate Council, has been picked as the winner of the Influencer award. 

Earlier this year, Mullins’ face became synonymous with the bushfire efforts, appearing nightly on media across Australia, reaching millions of Australians with the message that the nation was experiencing an unprecedented fire season, exacerbated by climate change.

He has been an influential voice calling on the federal government to increase resourcing to emergency services and to implement a credible climate and energy policy.  

Read more: Meet this year’s Impact 25

The judges said they felt his authentic voice, expansive knowledge and incredible public commitment during the recent bushfires was a driver of attitudinal and behavioral change.

Mullins said he was “surprised and humbled” to find out he was a winner.

Commenting on what it means to be an influencer, he said: “If you know your subject, people can’t put you off the game.”



Melissa Monteiro, who has headed up the Community Migrant Resource Centre for the last 20 years and works closely with community leaders in Western Sydney to create greater social impact, has topped the Collaborator category.

Monteiro has empowered and mentored many not-for-profit organisations and individuals. She is passionate about migrant and refugee women, humanitarian resettlement and social justice issues. 

The judges felt that with an issue as layered and complex as immigration, Monteiro had developed a deep and thorough understanding of what policy was needed and developed innovative services that wrapped around the recipients in a way that acknowledged them deeply. 

They said her work had obviously been intensely collaborative, as evidenced by the broad coalition of organisations she is a part of and has connected with. 

Monteiro said collaboration was about “building relationships, breaking down walls, listening to understand [and] finding answers to the bigger questions together.”



The winner of this year’s Innovator category was Ben Vasiliou, CEO of Youth Projects, who was nominated as a fearless young leader who used his lived experience to drive real change for vulnerable Australians. 

Since becoming CEO in 2017, he has created an industry-leading outcomes framework that has seen engagement grow and support delivered annually, to the most vulnerable people experiencing homelessness and young people in need. 

His innovative thinking and contemporary approach to leadership has been credited with enabling the launch of new outreach programs, employment support and extended health services, all of which are changing and saving lives every day.

This was echoed in the judge’s comments, which acknowledge Vasiliou’s drive to transform the personal experience of his younger self into a successful career which has changed the lives of youth across Australia.

Vasiliou said innovation in the social economy was much more than just problem solving.

Speaking with an eye on the current crisis, he encouraged everyone to be kind to one another.



Each year, an esteemed panel of judges choose the judges choice award winners from the Impact 25 winners. 

This year’s judges – Pro Bono Australia founder and CEO Karen Mahlab AM; Lisa Cotton, CEO of Ideology Group; and James Barron, head of relations at Community Sector Banking – said the three individuals exemplified the spirit of the Impact 25 Awards, working tirelessly to create an adaptive and cohesive social sector. 

To read more about all of this year’s winners visit the Impact 25 website.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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