Jury biographies

Find out about the jury and lived experience advisers who will be deciding our winners.

Jury members

Professor Tom Calma AO

2023 Senior Australian Citizen of the Year

Jury Chair

Tom Calma is of Kungarakan and Iwaidja descent whose traditional lands are just out of Darwin.  

He has been involved in Indigenous affairs at a local, community, state, national and international level for over 45 years. Tom is on boards and committees focusing on rural and remote Australia, health, mental health, suicide prevention, all levels of education, culture and language, justice reinvestment, research, reconciliation, economic development, and aged care. He is a member of the Aged Care Council of Elders and the Aged Care Taskforce.

Tom Calma is Chancellor of the University of Canberra; Professor of Practice (Indigenous Engagement) at the University of Sydney; and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner (2004-10) and Race Discrimination Commissioner (2004-09). He is the first Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person appointed a Fellow of the Australia Academy of Science.

Kerstin Thompson AM LFRAIA

Kerstin Thompson is the recipient of the 2023 Gold Medal – the Australian Institute of Architects’ highest honour – recognising distinguished services by architects.  She is the founding Principal of Kerstin Thompson Architects (KTA) established in Melbourne, 1994. 

Kerstin is a committed design educator and regularly lectures and runs studios at various schools across Australia and New Zealand. In recognition for the work of her practice, contribution to the profession and tertiary education, Kerstin was elevated to Life Fellow by the Australian Institute of Architects in 2017. She is a member of the OVGA ‘s Design Review Panel and an advocate for quality design within the profession, and the wider community. In 2022 she was appointed as a Member in the Order of Australia ‘for significant service to architecture, and to tertiary education’.

John Choi

John Choi has overseen multiple award-winning projects across all scales and typologies at CHROFI. The practice has also won many national and international design competitions. Over the past 20 years, John’s leadership has driven the practice’s commitment to a holistic and place-based approach to design that drives urban, social, cultural and environmental outcomes. He is passionate about how design can expand the way we live. Awards include Jørn Utzon Award for International Architecture, World Architecture Festival and a prize recipient in the AR Award for Emerging Architecture. 

John served as Adjunct Professor of Architecture at University of Sydney from 2010-2018; is a member of NSW State Design Review Panel, and is Deputy Chair of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art.

Allen Kong LFRAIA

Allen Kong’s cultural background of Chinese, Palawa, Scottish and English underpins his conceptual framework for holistic architecture combining inalienable understanding of the living spirit and evidence-based design. 

Allen is director of Allen Kong Architect Pty Ltd; chair of the RAIA National Enabling Architecture Committee; co-director UIA Architecture for All; co-chair Indigenous Architecture and Design Australia; a member of the Victorian Building Appeals Board; and an ACAA accredited member. His international recognition includes the UN World Habitat Award and UN Scroll of Honour for Human Settlements; UIA Architecture for All; World Congress of Health and Design for Salutogenic Design; World Architecture News for Sustainability; with recent international publications including Neurodivergence and Architecture-Developments – Neuroethics and Bioethics.

Dr Catherin Bull AM

Dr Catherin Bull is Emeritus Professor of Landscape Architecture at the University of Melbourne and Adjunct Professor at QUT. After leading national and international consultancies, she served as a Commissioner in the Land and Environment Court of NSW, joining the University of Melbourne as the Elisabeth Murdoch Professor in 1998. She has published 2 books, over 50 papers and chaired an OECD Global Science Forum. As an advocate for better quality city planning and design she has served on juries, panels and boards nationally including Urban Growth NSW, the National Capital Authority, Canberra Metro, South Bank Corporation (as chair), Queensland Cultural Precinct and Building Queensland, being recognised with an Order of Australia in 2009. 

Erin McDonald

Erin McDonald is a proud Aboriginal woman who embeds her culture throughout the design process, pushing boundaries by translating Indigenous technologies and embedding cultural identity into the built environment. She is passionate about educating designers to think innovatively for community economic growth.

Erin collaborates with Indigenous communities to ensure their cultural values and traditions are reflected in the built environment. Understanding cultural protocols, historical and spiritual significance of the land, she ensures respectful and inclusive First Nations engagement.  

Erin is an Associate Director at Blaklash and a co-director of Elements of Country; a director of Indigenous Architecture and Design Australia; member of the Queensland Government’s Urban Design & Places Panel; and holds a QUT Bachelor of [Interior] Design with honours.

Her work includes commercial developments and health, workplace, and cultural precincts and she is committed to collaborative co-design.

Dr Stephen Judd AM

Dr Stephen Judd was Chief Executive of health and aged care services provider, HammondCare from 1995-2020.  When he stepped down, HammondCare had grown to provide care and services to more than 25,000 clients and its FY22 revenue was more than $400 million.   He is an author on dementia care, aged care design and the role of charities in contemporary Australian society. He has served on numerous government and industry committees and until 2020 was a member of the Advisory Council of the Australian Aged Care Quality Agency.   Stephen is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the School of Population Health, UNSW Medicine and was the inaugural Fellow, Council on the Ageing, a peak consumer advocacy group, until the end of 2022.

Tim Ross

Tim Ross is a celebrated comedian and a passionate advocate for architecture and design promoting its value in multiple forums.

He is the recipient of the National Trust Heritage Award for Advocacy regarding Australia’s legacy of modernist architecture; of an Australian Institute of Architects National President’s Prize for activism and outstanding contribution to the profession; was a National Architecture Awards jury member and was awarded as an honorary Institute member. 

Tim has performed his live Man About the House show in significant buildings throughout the world, at the Venice Biennale and London Festival of Architecture. His ABC TV series Streets of Your Town and Designing A Legacy; exhibitions including Design Nation, and Motel; prolific publications; guest speaker engagements and as a provocative design commentator have made design accessible to a wide, diverse and appreciative audience.

Sophie Dyring

Sophie Dyring is Director of Schored Projects, an awarded cross-disciplinary design studio. She is a passionate affordable housing advocate, an architect and landscape architect.  Her practice primarily designs and delivers specialized housing for communities and individuals facing significant challenges and in critical need.

Sophie complements practice as a Design Review Panel member for the South Australian and New South Wales State Governments, offering expertise in housing and landscape. She co-authored A Design Guide for Older Women’s Housing, co-convened Making Home, a series of lectures and installations and has presented on social and affordable housing at conferences, symposiums and panel discussions. Sophie was a member of the competition Organising Committee for Reimagining Where We Live.

Lived experience advisers

Ann Pietsch

Ann is an advocate for Dementia Australia and joined the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee in October 2019. She is an active member and advocate for all people living with dementia, their families and carers. Ann trained as a general nurse and midwife, with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science - Nursing Administration, specialising in gerontology. 

In 2011 Ann began to experience memory problems and retired in July 2012. She was diagnosed with younger onset dementia (Alzheimer’s) at 59 and may have Lewy Body Dementia. Ann and her husband Timothy are happy to share their insights to help others understand dementia. 

Gwenda Darling

Gwenda is a proud Aboriginal woman descendent from the Tebrikuna tribe, born in Gamilaroi Country.

Gwenda has worked as CEO of Anaiwan Local Aboriginal Land Council, Chairperson of Gandangarra Local Aboriginal Land Council, Director of Hunter Aboriginal Childrens services and various other non-government organisation positions. 

After being diagnosed with younger onset frontotemporal dementia in 2013 at 59, she was determined not to allow the diagnosis to define her. Gwenda has participated in dementia research and is actively involved in rural dementia inclusive communities for those living with dementia and their carers. 

Gwenda joined the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee in 2023.

Steve Grady

In 2014, Steve was diagnosed with younger onset dementia. Since his diagnosis, Steve has been an active advocate for Dementia Australia. More recently his wife moved into residential care following a major stroke, prompting Steve to become more active in aged care reform. 

Steve has worked with the Older Persons Advocacy Network on the Ready to Listen Project regarding sexual assault in aged care. He spoke recently at an Aged Care Quality, Safety and Risk conference in Melbourne, participates in several research studies and sits on a Steering Committee for future Dementia Services for Nepean Blue Mountains Local Area Health.

Mithrani Mahadeva

Mithrani is Sri Lankan, 72 years old and lives in Victoria with one of her daughters. She was diagnosed with mixed dementia (Lewy Body disease and Vascular dementia) at 65. She also has diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder and cancer. 

Mithrani is an advocate with Dementia Australia and shares her story to raise awareness of dementia, tackle stigma and discrimination, and influence government and service providers. She would like to see the same level of support and referral for people with dementia as she received upon on her cancer diagnosis. Mithrani loves gardening, music, nature, wildlife and art, especially painting.

Dennis Frost

Dennis was born in country NSW in the mid-1950s and is old enough to have witnessed the Luna Landing in 1969 but young enough to have avoided conscription. He has had a variety of careers, working in Education, Petroleum Exploration, and IT for more than 20 years. 

At 59 he was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. In 2014 he became involved in the Dementia Friendly Kiama Pilot and was elected chair of the Advisory Group. He is an active advocate for all with dementia. 

Dennis is Vice-Chair of the Dementia Australia Advisory Committee.

Pam Eade

Pam was diagnosed with Younger Onset Dementia, Primary Progressive Aphasia in November 2021 and reached out for information and support to Dementia Australia. Her progression has been slow allowing her to plan, after much consideration, for her future forecasted medical conditions.

Pam is a passionate Dementia Advocate who has participated in focus groups and the review of Dementia Australia’s resources. She has been married for 42 years and lives with her husband in a small rural community. Pam is involved in the running of the local Museum and is on the Cemetery Trust. She enjoys reading and researching family history.

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