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John Shaw Medal


Professor David Hensher, the Founding Director of the Institute of Transport Studies (ITLS) at the University of Sydney Business School, is a very worthy recipient of the 2019 John Shaw Medal.

Professor Hensher is an internationally renowned researcher who has dedicated his career to the analysis and improvement of infrastructure systems around the world. He is regarded as Australia’s most eminent expert on travel demand and valuation and transport reform, and has advised government and private sector organisations around the world on transport economics, demand forecasting, economic evaluation, policy and planning.

Here in Australia, his past appointments include memberships of the executive committee that reviewed bus transport bids for the Sydney Olympic Games, the NSW Government’s Peer Review Committee for the Sydney Strategic Transport Plan, Infrastructure Australia’s reference panel on public transport, and adviser to the WestConnex toll road project.

His achievements are underscored by the many national and international awards bestowed on him, including the 2009 International Association of Travel Behaviour Research (IATBR) Lifetime Achievement Award for his long-standing and exceptional contribution to IATBR, as well as to the wider travel behaviour community; the 2006 Engineers Australia Transport Medal for his lifelong contribution to transportation; the Smart 2013 Premier Award for Excellence in Supply Chain Management; the 2014 Institute of Transportation Engineers (Australia and New Zealand) Transport Profession Award for his significant contribution to the development of the transport/traffic engineering profession over a sustained period; and the 2016 Award for Outstanding Research as part of the inaugural University of Sydney Vice-Chancellor’s Awards for Excellence.

Professor Hensher has published over 630 papers in leading international transport and economics journals, as well as 18 books, and has over 50,000 citations of his contributions in Google scholar. He is the Executive Chair and Co-Founder of The International Conference in Competition and Ownership of Land Passenger Transport (the Thredbo Series), now in its 30th year.

Left: Past Medalists Bruce Judd, Greg Hallam and Tom Wilmot; Professor David Hensher; RA President David Stuart-Watt; WSP's Phil Nicholls; and RA CEO Michael Kilgariff.

The criteria

The John Shaw Medal honours an industry champion who has made a lasting contribution to Australia's roads.

The following conditions and guidelines apply:

  • Field of contribution - The field of contribution must be in the area of road transport. Indicative areas of contribution include road construction, design, administration, safety, services, freight, research, and policy development. There must be a clear connection between the field of contribution and road transport.
  • Level of contribution - The contribution must be outstanding and this will be assessed on the basis of its impact on the industry and the community. The area of unique impact is to be specifically identified in the nomination, in a form which can be incorporated in the citation.
  • Breadth of contribution - The extent to which the contribution was valued beyond any one section of the Industry and beyond jurisdiction (eg State). The contribution needs to be of National or International significance.
  • Personal achievement - It must be demonstrated that the candidate's contribution significantly reflects personal endeavour, as distinct from the work of others. The John Shaw Medal is not awarded in recognition of general corporate achievement.
  • Originality - Candidates will also be assessed on the originality and unique quality of their contribution. If the contribution is, for example, in a field of research, the spark of ingenuity must be identified. If the candidate's claims are in policy or management areas, the areas of leadership which distinguish the candidate must be clearly specified.
  • Durability - Candidates will also be assessed on the extent to which their contribution is likely to endure and be remembered by future generations. Contribution to corporate success alone is not likely to meet this criterion.
  • Further potential - Ideally candidates for the award will still have further contributions to make to the industry and the community. It is expected that the award will recognise their achievements to date and thereby enhance the opportunity for the candidate to make yet a further contribution.

The John Shaw Medallist is chosen by a Commitee of past winners. In addition to accepting nominations from industry, the Committee at its discretion may also consider candidates who emerge from its own discussions.


How to nominate

With the John Shaw Medal having been held over in 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19, RA is looking forward to again celebrating the accomplishments and contributions of our industry's outstanding achievers in 2021.

Nominations are now open and can be made by downloading and completing the nomination form.


Nominations will close at COB on Friday 9 April, and the award will be presented to the winner during the 2021 John Shaw Award Dinner in Sydney on 17 June.


Inquiries about the Award should be directed to RA's Director - Corporate Affairs, Simon Morgan.


Past recipients

Amongst the past recipients of this prestigious award are:

  • Doug Jones AO, Clayton Utz
  • Bruce Judd, Australian Infrastructure Consultants
  • Gordon Ralph, CPB Contractors 
  • Reg Leach, Golder Associates
  • Janet Holmes a Court, John Holland Advisory Board Chairman
  • Lauchlan McIntosh AM, Australasian College of Road Safety (ACRS)
  • Ken Mathers, Linking Melbourne Authority
  • Greg Hallam, Local Government Association of Queensland
  • Arvo Tinni, Abigroup 
  • Dr Max Lay, ConnectEast 
  • Colin Jordan, RACV
  • His Excellency Dr Ken Michael AC, Governor of Western Australia
  • Don Aitken, Dept of Main Roads WA (dec.)
  • Erik Finger, Qld Dept of Main Roads
  • Geoff Youdale, RTA NSW (dec.)
  • Tom Wilmot, Stabilisation Services Ltd
  • Maurie Benveniste, Transport SA (dec.)
  • John Bethune, AAPA (dec.)
  • Rod Payze, Department of Transport SA
  • Neil Doyle, Queensland Main Roads
  • Peter Balfe, VicRoads
  • Dick Wharton, Qld Main Roads
  • John Oliver, ARRB


John Shaw's contribution to roads

John (JAL) Shaw was recruited to the service of the then  recently established Main Roads Board of New South Wales soon after graduating in civil engineering at Sydney University in 1925.

In 1928 he was included amongst the first six divisional engineer appointments made by the Board, taking up a posting at Glen Innes. He served in Newcastle and Sydney before enlisting for service with the AIF in 1940. During his military service, Johh Shaw won the Distinguished Service Order.

He was captured by the Japanese and spent several years in Changi Prisoner of War Camp where he won the respect and affection of his fellow prisoners through his special efforts to improve their lot.

On returning to civilian life after the cessation of hostilities, John Shaw resumed duties with the then Department of Main Roads. He rose to Commissioner, holding that office from 1962 to 1967. He was Assistant Commissioner and Commissioner during the period of reconstruction which followed the war years, and was involved in many of the exciting works such as the Gladesville Bridge which were undertaken during that time.

After his retirement John Shaw served as a Commissioner of the City of Sydney and was National President of the Australian Road Federation. He is the only Australian ever to have been honoured by the International Road Federation as "Man of the Year".

The John Shaw Award, which was initiated in the Queensland Region of the Australian Road Federation, acknowledges his outstanding contribution to roads.