About the award

The ACF Peter Rawlinson Conservation Award celebrates individuals and groups who have made an outstanding voluntary contribution to protecting Australia's natural environment. 

Established in 1992, the annual award is given in memory of former ACF Councillor Peter Rawlinson — a zoologist, lecturer in biological science and tireless campaigner for our living world. 


Nominate online


Individuals or groups (excluding ACF staff and Councillors) can be nominated for their voluntary achievements at a local or national level.


The winner will receive a $3,000 prize. Entries are judged on the significance of the issues addressed, the outcomes achieved and the challenges overcome.

How to apply

Nominations for the 2023 award have now closed. 


Images: Annette Ruzicka

About Peter Rawlinson

Peter Rawlinson was one of Australia's leading biologists and conservationists. He died on the island of Anak Krakatau, Indonesia, on 11 April 1991, while engaged in research fieldwork. He was only 48 years old.

This award was established in recognition of Peter's outstanding contribution as an environmental campaigner, researcher, teacher – as well as his tireless work for many conservation organisations, especially ACF, where he was Vice-President, Treasurer and Councillor.

Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation

2023 award winner

The Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation campaigned tirelessly for seven years to protect their country in South Australia from the long-term threats posed by radioactive waste.

Consistently excluded from key community consultation and decision-making forums, their unequivocal opposition was continuously disregarded, yet their stance never wavered. 

In July 2023, the Federal Court found that former Coalition resources minister Keith Pitt's plan for a nuclear waste dump near Kimba was not valid.

It was an important win for good process, for First Nation rights and for radioactive responsibility.

It was also a win that sends a wider and welcome message that sometimes, against the run of play - the little people can win.

Read their story

Right: Members of the Barngarla Determination Aboriginal Corporation after their Federal Court win, July 2023. Photo: Supplied. 

Hamish Cumming

2022 award winner

Hamish Cumming is a Darlington farmer and mechanical engineer who has worked tirelessly for three decades to conserve Brolga populations and their habitats. On his 4,500 acre property he has conserved a large area of wetland habitats and native grasslands that contribute significantly to the region’s biodiversity.

These wetlands are home to several nesting pairs of Brolgas and include two significant flocking sites. In the past 15 years, he has been integral in raising awareness of the conservation plight of Brolgas and the need to protect them.

Brolgas are listed as Endangered under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act (FFGA) [1] and there are only a few hundred nesting pairs left in southwest Victoria.

Left: Hamish Cumming. Photo: Supplied. 

Steve Meacher

2020 award winner

Steve Meacher from the Friends of Leadbeater's Possum was awarded in recognition of his work defending the critically endangered possum, and its habitat. 

Steve has worked tirelessly for 16 years to educate Victorians about Leadbeater’s Possum and convince politicians to protect its shrinking habitat from state-sponsored logging. He won a David v Goliath case against VicForests in the Federal Court in May 2020, challenging the logging industry’s exemption from having to comply with national environment laws.

Read his story

Right: Steve Meacher in Toolangi. Photo: Annette Ruzicka/MAPgroup

Carolyn Ingvarson

2020 award winner

The founder of Lighter Footprints, Carolyn Ingvarson, was awarded for her inspirational leadership and determination to grow action on climate change from within the suburbs of Melbourne.

Carolyn spent 15 years turning a small grassroots climate group into one of the most influential in the country. She built a bridge between decision makers and her community, to influence government in a positive way. 

Read her story

Left: Carolyn Ingvarson. Photo: Julian Meehan

Past winner: Shirley Wonyabong, Elizabeth Wonyabong and Vicki Abdullah

2019 award winner

Three Tjiwarl women, Shirley, Elizabeth and Vicki, were awarded in recognition of their decades-long campaign to protect their country and culture from a proposed uranium mine at Yeelirrie in outback Western Australia.

We acknowledge their tireless work speaking up for country and culture around campfires, in politician’s offices, on the streets of Perth and in Western Australia’s highest court. Over the decades they have seen off at least three mining companies, including BHP, and have given strength and courage to their own community and many others.

Read their story

Right: Elizabeth, Vicki and Shirley at WA Supreme Court. Photo: Conservation Council of Western Australia

Past winner: Todd Dudley

2018 award winner

Grassroots conservationist Todd Dudley was awarded for 20 years of protecting and restoring ecologically-significant landscapes in north-eastern Tasmania’s mountains and coast.

Todd Dudley has campaigned against inappropriate commercial developments in sensitive coastal areas; advised individual landholders, councils and state government on native flora and fauna, weed control and fire management; led the Northeast Bioregional Network, a community conservation group; and brought back bushland to degraded landscapes.

Read Todd's story


Left: Todd Dudley, Melbourne. Photo: James Thomas

Past winners

View all past winners