Judges & Judging

Meet our Judges for 2017 Awards

Early Childhood Judges


Julie has a Bachelor of Education, majoring in Children’s Literature. She has taught in various schools in Victoria, England and Canberra for twenty-five years amidst time spent parenting and travelling. Julie is an active member of the CBCA ACT Branch and held numerous roles. In 2006 Julie was granted Life Membership of CBCA ACT. She has been a reviewer for Reading Time for over thirty years and spent three years as Assistant Editor. Julie was a CBCA Awards Co-ordinator for two years. She is a passionate reader and loves to share this with children in classrooms as well as young members of Scouts ACT in her role as Arts Commissioner. Julie is an honorary Life member of the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature.


Amanda Cooper is a primary teacher with 35 years’ experience, specialising in Art, Library and Music. She has a Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Children’s Literature. Amanda has extensive experience working at Books Illustrated Gallery assisting with exhibitions, book sales and story-time. She is committed to providing quality literature activities to students from lower socio economic areas. Amanda is also founder of ‘Gallery for a Day’ which is a travelling exhibition of original illustrations from many well-known Australian picture books. Artworks from her collection are exhibited together with the books forming the basis of an engaging interactive workshop incursion for primary aged students. Amanda loves introducing children to picture books, their illustrations and the creative process involved in their making.


Ruth has lived in Australia since 1975. She obtained a Graduate Degree in Library and Information Studies, after teaching at all levels from High School to Education Support. Ruth has been Principal Librarian for the Shire of Harvey for more than twenty years, managing four busy public libraries. Ruth views libraries as hubs of the community, offering learning resources for all ages, social spaces for all members of the community, displays and events, author talks, book clubs, children’s activities. Her personal interest is in the early childhood years, this is when the foundations of literacy are laid down. Ruth is a keen traveller and often spends time doing overseas voluntary work. These experiences have given Ruth a broad understanding of the immense value of literature and being able to read.

CBCA Picture Book of the Year Judges


Karen has a BA (Modern Asian Studies), Graduate Diploma Education (Early Childhood) and a MA Human Resources (Change Management). For ten years she worked for a children’s publishing company, in various areas of management, developing a knowledge of illustration, design, editing and production. This also enabled Karen to pass on her love of books to children and adults. Karen has worked as a teacher in the areas of early-childhood, primary and special education. In her work within public libraries she was responsible for organising various children’s activities. Karen now runs her own Education Consulting and Coaching business


Jo holds a Bachelor of Education and a Masters Degree in Literacy and is currently the Head Teacher Librarian of the Campbell House Library, in the Junior School of The Geelong College. She has held this position for 16 years.  Her chief role being that of immersing students from 3 to 9 years of age in literature and foster reading. Jo is also the Literacy Coordinator at the Junior School, supporting literature and literacy in classroom contexts from Early Learning to Year 3. The role enables her to highlight the value of rich literature as the foundation for literacy teaching and learning. Jo has contributed articles and papers to a number of publications highlighting the power of reading and quality literature for children.


Julian is an artist, educator and curator living in Braidwood, New South Wales. He graduated from the School of Art, ANU in Canberra and also has a Bachelor of Education from ACU. He specialises in contemporary woodcuts and drawings, using these mediums to create sculptural objects and works on paper that explore themes of history and identity. Julian has produced a series of exhibitions that developed mentorship partnerships between emerging and established artists from across Australia. He is a member of The Culture Kitchen, a Canberra-based cross-cultural collaborative print group. He has also worked on cross-cultural print-based projects in East Timor, Indonesia and on the Thai-Burma border. His works are in the collection of the Australian Print Council, Canberra Museum and Gallery, and significant private collections.

CBCA Book of the Year: Older Reader Judges


Michelle holds a Master of Arts (Writing and Literature), Master of Education (Learning Innovation), Graduate Diploma of Education (Teacher Librarian) and a Graduate Diploma of Education(Secondary). As a librarian at an all boys’ school, she feels the most important part of her job is to get the boys to read and to be excited about books. Michelle believes that reading books for enjoyment and pleasure are the most important things one can do. She reads widely within the field of children’s literature.



Katharine has had a lifelong relationship with children’s books. As a teenager she worked weekends and holidays in a bookshop in Sydney's Kings Cross. She has an honours degree in English Literature from the University of Sydney and started her professional life as a high school English teacher. She spent three years teaching in Papua New Guinea and 35 teaching English as a Second Language at TAFE SA. Katharine has been a freelance book reviewer ever since arriving in Adelaide and currently reviews Australian and overseas fiction and children's books regularly. She teaches a course in writing reviews as part of Adelaide TAFE’s Diploma in Professional Writing. Katharine was the SA CBCA judge in 1993/4 and an Eve Pownall judge in 1997/8. She also judges the fiction and children’s sections of the SA Festival Literary Awards and continues on the judging panel for the Biennial Children’s Peace Literature Award. 


Joy has an MA in Children’s Literature and Literacy and has been a specialist in children’s and young adult literature for two decades. Formerly a teacher, Joy has wide experience in presenting at state, national and international conferences and advising teachers and others on literature. She reviews for a range of newspapers and specialist journals. Joy has written teacher notes for National Literacy & Numeracy Week (ALEA/AATE), Reading Australia (ALEA) and other professional organisations. She has chaired the children’s book judging panels in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards and Queensland Literary Awards, judged the Aurealis Awards and was a CBCA fiction judge in 2009/10. She has taught a children’s/YA literature course at the University of Southern Queensland and blogs about children’s and young adult literature and literary fiction at Boomerang Books. Some of her favourite times in the year are spent chairing author sessions at the Sydney and Brisbane Writers’ Festivals. Joy is fascinated by ideas and images and how authors and illustrators express these with truth and originality.

Eve Pownall Information Book Judges


Helen’s qualifications include a Master of Education, a Master of Teaching and she has commenced a Professional Honours in Digital Technologies. She has been a teacher for nine years. Helen is the senior staff member responsible for library liaison at her school and this involves being part of the process that purchases new and highlights existing books in response to the interests, abilities and needs of her students. She has been the Vice President of the CBCA Tasmanian Branch since 2014. Helen has reviewed books and in 2015 she was awarded the Tasmanian Department of Education’s Excellence Award as the ‘ECE and Primary Teacher of the Year’. She has a particular interest in information books as a stimulus for reluctant readers. 


Heather holds a Diploma of Teaching (Primary) and Bachelor of Education. She has spent time working in education, business, newspapers and full-time motherhood. Heather has lived and worked in Brisbane, Perth and Melbourne. As a freelance writer she submits work to The West Australian newspaper as their Children’s Literature specialist as well as for the paper’s ED! Magazine. Heather is also a regular contributor for Magpies Magazine, the Yarra Valley & Ranges Country Life Magazine and Signpost Magazine. An avid reader, Heather is conscious of the fact that early readers make life-long readers and takes every opportunity to play matchmaker with books and children. She delights in reading good books to children and adults of all ages and in helping parents turn their children into enthusiastic readers.


Kerry Neary has been a member of the CBCA Qld Branch for over thirty years. He is now a life member. He has served as a judge for the CBCA Book of the Year Awards on a number of occasions including twice for the Eve Pownall Award. He has reviewed children’s books for many years. This includes a reviewing segment on radio 4MBS in Brisbane which has reached its twenty-year milestone. Though retired from Teacher Librarianship for over a decade now, he remains committed to the promotion of children’s literature and family reading.

CBCA Book of the Year: Younger Reader Judges


Nette Hilton has been an author of children’s and YA Literature for the past twenty-eight years. During this time she has been recognised for her work with shortlisting in CBCA awards, Notable books in CBCA list, shortlisted for NSW Premier’s Awards, Queensland Premier’s Awards and long listed for the Prime Minister’s Awards. Her books have been translated and are available worldwide with two titles still in print after twenty-six years. In 2014-2015 she was the Judge for senior poetry in the Dorothea MacKellar National Poetry Competition. She continues to write and, more recently, has attempted storyboarding her own picture books. Her latest novels are in the final stages of publication. Nette fills her days with books, stories and music. 


Dianne has a BSc at the University of WA. She attended the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1987 and was commissioned into the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps. Dianne subsequently completed her Masters in Public Administration 1997 and attended the Royal Australian Navy Staff College in 2000. Throughout her time as an Army Office, Dianne held a number of health planning, health administration and staff officer positions and has lived in Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Darwin. Growing up in country WA first fostered her love of reading. She continues to read widely; and constantly seeks out new books for her children and family to read. Dianne has achieved a good understanding of books and having three sons who read prolifically, she is now challenged by the array of books available for nine-year-old girls.    


I have spent the majority of my life in schools and education. I have always been involved in teaching as an English teacher, an aerobic or Gymbaroo instructor and finally a librarian. My love of reading was fanned early with evening family trips to the library, clothed in pyjamas and snuggled into a corner reading anything I could find. From an early age I forced my father to read Snugglepot and Cuddlepie with monotonous regularly which resulted in a deep-seated hatred of Banksia nuts. Little Women soon followed as a favourite, with it still holding a special place in my heart. I was fortunate to be part of a family who firmly encouraged and fuelled a love of reading, so much so that my mother's Christmas present to her children and grandchildren is always a book, one that is bought with care and love. After teaching across the length and breadth of WA, I settled in Capel in the beautiful South West region. I am a mother to two girls, 14 and 10, wife to Len, all of whom are also never without a book. In 2008 we, as a family, spent a year travelling around Australia. It was a unique and wonderful experience, one also filled with many visits to town libraries, second-hand bookstores and playgrounds. Our family joke is that we should write a book about our travels, entitled "Best places to Play and Read around Australia". I am excited and honoured to be a part of the judging panel for the CBCA Book of the Year. Even if it means finding extra storage space to house the many books I will read over the course of my tenure.

How to become a judge

Appointment of Judges

Nominations and applications are open 31 October every year.

Closing date for nominations is 30 November.

Appointments announced by 31 December.

No Judge may serve on two panels at the same time, but serving on one panel does not preclude a Judge from subsequently serving on another panel at a later date.


Selection of Judges will be based on the following criteria:

  • Recognised standing and qualifications in the field of children’s literature.
  • Wide and recent knowledge of children’s literature, especially Australian.
  • Awareness of illustration techniques, design, editing, printing & production processes.
  • Ability to communicate assessment effectively, both verbally and in writing
  • Awareness of and commitment to the time required.
  • Ability to work within given deadlines.
  • Good working knowledge of current technology including website blogging, video calls, Skype, etc


Consideration of the following criteria will also be considered by the Awards Sub Committee in determining Judges:

  • Fair representation of all States and Territories;
  • Fair representation of backgrounds;
  • Fair representation of gender and age.

The Awards Committee reserves the right not to appoint, from the applications received, and reserves the right to appoint by invitation. Unsuccessful applicants can reapply in subsequent years.


The judges’ biographies will be published on the website with photo. The information regarding the current judges is updated in August, after the awards have been announced.

Resignation of Judge during term of office

If a judge resigns after 31 October, no replacement is chosen and the remaining judges use the reports and comments of the resigned judge when making their final considerations.

If a judge resigns prior to 31 October the Awards Sub Committee will select a replacement from previous nominations, if possible. If no suitable candidate is available, the Awards Sub Committee will call for nominations or invite possible candidates from the location of the resigned judge.

Eligibility for serving as a Judge

All Judges must be current individual members of a Branch of The Children’s Book Council of Australia and have the right to work with children as determined by regulations in their State or Territory.

Conflict of Interest

It is important for perceptions of fairness in the Awards that Judges have no conflict of interest in the outcome of the Awards during their term of office. Candidates should carefully consider CBCA’s conflict of interest policy before seeking nomination, and must include with their nomination documents a completed Conflict of Interest declaration form. If appointed, a Judge’s obligations to consider and disclose actual and potential conflicts of interest is ongoing.

Vested Interest

A person with a vested interest in the Awards may not be a Judge. For the purposes of these Awards a vested interest is taken to be any financial gain obtained from or other financial association with the actual publication process of a current entry in the Awards. Generally this would exclude publishers and their employees and may also exclude authors, illustrators, editors and others whose works would be entered in the Awards during their term of office.

Associations with an Entry

A Judge who has a non-financial association with a current entry (such as mentoring the author or editorial role) or a financial association that is subsequent to the publication of a current entry (such as a paid review, a bookselling position or preparing readers’ notes) must declare that association to the other Judges and National Board through the Awards Sub Committee.

Should the Awards Sub Committee consider a Judge’s association with a current entry is sufficient to influence a public perception of bias in the judging of the Awards, they should ask the Judge to clarify his/her position and then they will decide to what extent the Judge should continue with judging in relation to that entry.

Judge’s Requirements

Reading Requirements

Judges will be required to read all books entered in their category during the judging period and to write preliminary annotations and reports on each entry.

There are 50-120 books entered in each category.

Category Panel Meetings

Judges should be available for teleconferences, Skype meetings or other such meetings as determined by their panel to facilitate discussion, reflection and reporting on entries.

During these panel meetings the Notable, Short List, Honour and Winning books will be discussed and recommended.

There will be two teleconferences held during the judging period to review the books that are being considered for Notables. Held in September and January.

The Short List voting will be an on-line forum and teleconference.

Reporting Requirements

Judges will be required to write their brief report, vote and discuss each book in an on-line forum.

Each judge in a category will be asked to write a first draft annotation on a rotational basis throughout the reporting period on selected books.

Judges will be responsible for editing draft annotations for accuracy prior to the list being handed over to the merchandise editors.

Each judge will be asked to contribute to the Judges’ Report.

All Judges Meeting

At least one face to face meeting will be attended by selected or all judges.  During this conference the Honour and Winning books will be determined.

Judges’ Talks

Judges are expected to speak at a range of functions on the Notable and Shortlisted books for their local CBCA Branch, who will issue invitations accordingly.

Deed of Agreement

Upon selection each Judge will be asked to sign a Deed of Agreement, acknowledging any conflict of interest, the time commitment, reporting requirements and confirming confidentiality commitment.