RMIT community recognised in the 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours

RMIT community recognised in the 2020 Queen's Birthday Honours

The Queen’s Birthday 2020 Honours List recognised 933 outstanding Australians, including a number of RMIT alumni and staff delivering impact through their service to education, the arts, science, health, and more.

Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, and RMIT alumnus, Esther Charlesworth was recognised with a Member (AM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for her significant service to architecture, to education, and to the community of the Asia-Pacific region.

Charlesworth has enjoyed a more than 25-year career spanning the design, development and humanitarian sectors.

A founder of Architects Without Frontiers (AWF), she has dedicated much of her career to helping individuals and communities rebuild after natural disasters and conflict.

RMIT alumnus and Professor of Architecture and Urban Design Esther Charlesworth RMIT alumnus and Professor of Architecture and Urban Design Esther Charlesworth

 “Founding Architects Without Frontiers, after working in war-torn Bosnia in the mid 1990’s, is one of the things I’m most proud of. Architecture is one of the most critical yet still one of the most underappreciated of the creative arts” Charlesworth said.

“Since my Mostar [a village in Bosnia] experience, AWF have gone from working after war to working in zones of fragility and social vulnerability, both within Australia and the broader Asia Pacific region.”

Research support from RMIT has enabled Charlesworth to pursue additional humanitarian architecture projects, including the creation of a disability day-care centre in Hoi An, Vietnam.

“The centre was initially designed by RMIT students and funded by the University 10 years ago; now it supports a community of 200 families in the region and has made a profound impact on their lives,” Charlesworth said.

When reflecting on some of the key lessons of her career, Charlesworth’s advice was simple.

“Don’t sweat the small stuff, make mistakes, work out what your academic passion and capacity is and go for it - ideas matter!”

Additional Queen’s Birthday Honours recipients included Diploma of Financial Counselling alumnus, Scott Pape, who received a Medal (OAM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia for his service to the community and financial education.

Pape is widely recognised for his best-selling book ‘The Barefoot Investor’ which has sold over 1 million copies to date.

He said being recognized was surprising and humbling, but that the people he works with deserve the acknowledgement.

"I really do believe that the people that I work with really deserve the recognition," Pape said.

"That is, the Financial Counsellors working on the front lines helping people in hardship, and the teachers in classrooms all around Australia helping their students learn the money lessons they need to help them in their lives going forward. " 

Retail magnate and Honorary Doctorate (Business) recipient Naomi Milgrom was also appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) for eminent service to the community through philanthropic leadership and support for the promotion of the arts, architecture, design excellence and cultural exchange, and to business.

Milgrom’s company, ARJ Group Holdings owns clothing retailers Sportsgirl, Sussan and Suzanne Grae.

She was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2010 and an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2015. She also received the 2015 President’s Prize from the Victorian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects.

RMIT congratulates all 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours recipients from within our community, including our staff, alumni and partners, and thanks them for their contribution to their community, to Australia globally or domestically.

For more information on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, visit the website of the Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.


Story: Rekha Ryan


  • Alumni
  • Awards
  • Design
  • Business
  • Architecture

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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.