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Celebrating the 2022 Impact 25 Judges Choice Award winners


11 April 2022 at 5:32 pm
Jonathan Alley
Pro Bono Australia held its annual Impact 25 event on 7 April. Three outstanding performers in the social sector were selected as Judges’ Choice winners.


Jonathan Alley | 11 April 2022 at 5:32 pm


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Celebrating the 2022 Impact 25 Judges Choice Award winners
11 April 2022 at 5:32 pm

Pro Bono Australia held its annual Impact 25 event on 7 April.  Three outstanding performers in the social sector were selected as Judges’ Choice winners.

Pro Bono Australia held its Impact 25 Awards night on Thursday, recognising outstanding individuals who work to solve today’s greatest challenges. Despite issues associated with both heavy flooding in Northern New South Wales and COVID-affected nominees, the virtual awards attracted hundreds from the social sector keen to celebrate the 25 and see which three sector leaders would be named Judges’ Choice. 

“This year the nominations were exceptional, in the diversity of people and the nature of the organisations nominated,” said Pro Bono Australia CEO Karen Mahlab AM.

“We had 450 people from all over Australia nominated. One of the social media posts said ‘imagine if our Parliament looked like this’ and I agree, it’s a wonderful field of winners.”

Over 21,000 votes were cast by the sector to choose the 25 winners, a powerful and engaged group of advocates and changemakers who work with the disadvantaged, and other silenced groups, serving as a powerful force for good in communities in Australia and internationally. From this cohort, three judges awarded winners in three categories: influence, innovation, and collaboration.

Keynote speaker Liz Thompson, founder of Sharing Stories and winner of the Judges’ Choice Award for Innovation in 2021’s Impact 25 event, paid tribute to all the nominees, by recognising the vital nexus of thought and action that’s needed to create achievement. 

“Vast amounts of time are spent trying to make things that you know to be important manifest,” she said in her address.

“That requires tenacity and determination and creativity; to keep re-thinking how you can get the work done, honouring the reality of the work.”

This year’s Judges’ Choice Award for Innovation went to Mandy Richards, founder of Global Sisters, which was created in 2016 as a solution to welfare dependency and low paid unsustainable jobs via the creation of micro-businesses.

“We believe in good business… community, connection and the removal of any barriers for Australian women earning income when the other choices just don’t work,” she said in a pre-recorded message.

The Judges’ Choice Award for Influencer went to Fiona Armstrong, founder and executive director of the Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), a coalition of 90 organisations, covering 100 hospital and health system organisations and now existing across five continents. As a world first, the alliance advocates for sustainably designed hospitals and health premises. 

Armstrong said she was “incredulous” to be awarded influencer status from the judges.

“It’s really humbling: the Impact 25 are an incredible bunch,” she said. “I feel most comfortable supporting others… The work that I do, that’s acknowledged in this award, is about working with others. The work that we do… is about building capacity in health organisations and health professionals and transforming the health sector to become low carbon and sustainable.”

The Judges’ Choice Award for Collaboration went to Southern Aboriginal Corporation’s Asha Bhat, who sits on four community boards and committees and who has raised six and a half million dollars in funding within the Great Southern Region for Indigenous people through employment, education, healthcare support and legal services.

“I feel very honoured to receive this recognition… As a migrant Indian woman, who grew up in India and witnessed much social disadvantage, I have always been passionate about contributing to a fairer world,” she said in her acceptance speech.

“Our latest success includes a collaboration with Aboriginal Family Legal Services and we are expanding family violence prevention programs to Perth to provide better access to justice systems for Aboriginal victims of family violence.”

The judges for Impact 25 in 2022 were Jodi Kennedy, general manager of charitable trusts and philanthropy at Equity Trustees; Karen Mahlab AM, founder and CEO of Pro Bono Australia; and Jan Owen, co-deputy CEO and co-founder of Adaptability Q.


Jonathan Alley  |  @ProBonoNews

Jonathan Alley is opinion editor at Pro Bono Australia.

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