Meet the judges

Former Secretary of the Department of Education

Ms Lisa Paul AO PSM – Chair of the judging panel

Lisa Paul had a 30+ year career in the public service, both state/territory and federal levels. She is Australia’s longest-standing Secretary of the Federal Department of Education, serving five Prime Ministers and nine Cabinet Ministers between 2004-2016.

Since leaving government, Lisa has been a director of listed and private companies, several not-for-profits and is sought after for executive education and speaking engagements. She is an Enterprise Professor at the University of Melbourne, a Councillor of Bond University and will commence as the Chancellor of the University of Canberra in 2024.

In 2011, Lisa was made an Officer of the Order of Australia and in 2003 awarded a Public Service Medal for leading the Commonwealth’s domestic response to the Bali Bombings. In 2011 she was named federal government leader of the year by Chartered Accountants and has received various other awards.

Former Governor-General of Australia

General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK AC (Mil) CVO MC (Retd)

Peter Cosgrove was born in Sydney in 1947. The son of a soldier, he attended Waverley College and graduated in 1968 from the Royal Military College, Duntroon.

Early in his military career, he fought in Vietnam, commanding a rifle platoon.  He was awarded the Military Cross in 1971 for his performance and leadership during an assault on enemy positions. Peter came to national attention in 1999 when, as Commander of the International Task Force East Timor, he was responsible for overseeing that country’s transition to independence.  For his leadership in this role, he was promoted to Companion in the Military Division of the Order of Australia.

Promoted to Lieutenant General, he was appointed Chief of Army in 2000.  After further promotion to General, he served as Chief of the Defence Force from 2002-2005.  He retired from the Australian Defence Force in 2005.

Subsequently, he accepted positions on several boards, including QANTAS, Cardno and the Australian Rugby Union.  He was appointed by the Queensland Government to lead the taskforce rebuilding communities in the Innisfail region following the devastation caused by Cyclone Larry in 2006.  From 2007 to 2012, he chaired the Council of the Australian War Memorial, and served as Chancellor of the Australian Catholic University from 2010 until early 2014.

On 25 March 2014, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced that General Cosgrove would become a Knight in the Order of Australia when sworn in as Governor-General. He was named Australian of the Year in 2001.

Three-time Paralympic gold medallist

Mr Kurt Fearnley AO PLY

Kurt Fearnley AO is an experienced government and non-government director and five-time Australian Paralympian. In 2022, Kurt was appointed Chair of the National Disability Insurance Scheme board.

He is also a current Board Commissioner of the Australian Sports Commission and Board Director of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Organising Committee. He is a former member of the boards of several organisations with a disability and community focus including Paralympics Australia, Life Without Barriers, Australian Volunteers International and the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation.

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in2018 and the same year received an Honorary Doctorate from Griffith University for his contribution to sport and disability advocacy. He has a Bachelor of Education and Bachelor of Human Movement from Charles Sturt University.

He is a high-school teacher, television presenter, podcaster and broadcaster, and former professional wheelchair athlete.

Editor in Chief, The Australian

Ms Michelle Gunn

Michelle Gunn is the editor-in-chief of The Australian, the first woman chosen for the role since the masthead was created.

A journalist for more than three decades, Michelle was previously editor of both The Australian and The Weekend Australian. Under her leadership, the masthead was named PANPA Weekend Newspaper of the year four times as well as 2018 overall News Brand of the Year.

Michelle's career at The Australian has also included stints as Deputy Editor, National Chief of Staff, Sydney Bureau Chief and Social Affairs Editor.

Special Envoy for Southeast Asia

Mr Nicholas Moore AO

Nicholas Moore is a former Chief Executive Officer of Macquarie Group Limited. He retired in 2018 after 32 years at Macquarie, including 10 years as CEO.

He is Chair of Screen Australia, The Centre for Independent Studies, The Smith Family, Willow Technology Corporation, the National Catholic Education Commission, Aldus Group, and the Financial Regulator Assessment Authority and Markets Taskforce Expert Advisory Panel (both within the Department of the Treasury). He is also a member, and former Chair, of the UNSW Business School Advisory Council.

In November 2022, Nicholas was appointed as Special Envoy for Southeast Asia for the Commonwealth Government

Vice-Chancellor, Australian National University

Professor Brian Schmidt AC FAA FRS FTSE

Professor Brian P. Schmidt was appointed the 12th Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University in January 2016.

Professor Schmidt is one of Australia's most eminent scientists. Winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, alongside many other academic awards and distinctions,  Professor Schmidt spent most of his academic career as an astrophysicist at the ANU Mount Stromlo Observatory and Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics before becoming Vice-Chancellor.

Professor Schmidt makes a significant contribution to public debate through the media, and via his membership of bodies including the Prime Minister's National Science and Technology Council.

CEO, GO Foundation

Charlene Davison

Charlene is a proud Biripi and Gadigal woman. With 20 years’ experience working in NSW Government, Charlene brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and strong leadership from her various senior management roles with the NSW Public Service Commission, Department of Industry and Department of Education. Charlene has led the implementation of sector-wide programs and strategies focused on driving cultural change and improving outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in NSW in education, training, employment, leadership, and business development.

Charlene is passionate about culture, truth telling and education. She is a strong advocate for public education and has been committed to the Reconciliation movement at the grass-roots level for more than 17 years. Charlene has a firm belief that all Australians should be afforded the opportunity to learn, understand and respect the true and often untold shared history of our Country.

Charlene is a graduate of the Australian and New Zealand School of Government, completing her Executive Masters of Public Administration in 2019. Charlene is incredibly proud and excited to lead the GO Foundation through its next phase.