Monday 16 October 2023: A diverse array of people and organisations from across Australia have been selected as finalists for this year’s Australian Human Rights Awards, the country’s premier national event for honouring and celebrating Australia’s human rights heroes.
The 21 finalists were selected from over 260 nominations across five categories, including the prestigious Australian Human Rights Medal (presented annually since the Award’s inception in 1987). The award winners will be announced at a gala ceremony and reception in Sydney on Friday 8 December. Just two days before International Human Rights Day (Dec 10), the ceremony will honour all finalists and nominees. All finalists are listed below.
Presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the event will also include Australia’s annual Human Rights Day Oration. This year’s orator will be announced in the coming weeks. This year’s Awards will form a key part of Australia’s commemorations for the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which Australia played a key role in drafting in 1948.
Commission President Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM said: “We’re thrilled to be honouring 21 truly outstanding human rights champions as part of this year’s Awards. I congratulate all our finalists on their selection and thank them for the important contributions they have made and are making to protect and promote human rights in Australia.
“I also acknowledge and thank everyone who was nominated across all categories for their work in support of human rights. Our judging panels were very impressed by the calibre and variety of the 263 nominations we received. It’s really wonderful to see so many local heroes out there working to advance human rights and social justice in our country.”
A range of new partners from the community, philanthropic, diplomatic, educational, government and corporate sectors are supporting this year’s event. The Principal Partner is the Paul Ramsay Foundation. Foundation CEO, Prof. Kristy Muir, said: “The Awards provide a valuable platform for highlighting both the value and impact of human rights as well as some of the outstanding Australians who are working hard every day to improve equity in society and champion justice for all. I commend all the finalists and look forward to joining them for the ceremony in December.”
The finalists will join over 600 guests, including a host of community, government, legal, media and entertainment figures, for a memorable night of celebration on Friday 8 December at the UTS Great Hall in Sydney. Tickets start at just $40 and include all drinks, canapes and entertainment. Tickets are available at: https://events.humanitix.com/human-rights-awards-2023
2023 Australian Human Rights Awards Finalists
Human Rights Medal | presented by AHRC + Paul Ramsay Foundation
- Mechelle Turvey (WA): for working towards long-term, systemic change for victims of crime following the tragic death of her son Cassius in late 2022.
- Juliana Nkrumah AM (NSW): for providing more than 30 years of service to advancing human rights in Australia’s multicultural communities, especially in relation to gender equity and women’s safety.
- Dr Daniel Nour (NSW): for founding and leading Side Street Medics, a volunteer-operated mobile medical service specifically created to provide care and support for people experiencing homelessness.
- Dr Helen Watchirs OAM (ACT): for more than 40 years of service as one of Australia’s strongest advocates for human rights, leading to significant law reform in the areas of anti-terrorism, discrimination, mental health, guardianship, tenancy, and criminal legislation.
Law Award | presented by AHRC + LexisNexis Australia
- Economic Justice Australia (National): for defending the social security rights of people across Australia for more than 30 years – including in relation to the recent Robodebt scandal – and advocating for a more effective, equitable and accessible social security system for Australia.
- David Barnden (NSW): for leading the approach of his firm Equity Generation Lawyers to combatting climate change through innovative, first-of-their-kind legal actions which develop Australia’s common law and create novel paths for addressing climate-related risks and damage.
- Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia (WA): for over 50 years of service to First Nations people and communities in WA by providing legal expertise, community empowerment, advocacy for systemic change, and a culturally sensitive approach. ALSWA’s recent work in relation to youth justice has been particularly impactful.
- Human Rights for All (NSW): for outstanding work in relation to obtaining liberty for asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons held in onshore Australian detention – especially those from marginalised communities – by promoting and protecting human rights through legal action, advocacy and education.
Media & Creative Industries Award | presented by AHRC + Creative Australia
- Insight | SBS TV (National): for consistently delivering sensitive, empathetic and inclusive discussions across a broad range of often challenging topics.
- Northern Pictures (NSW): for producing powerful and inspirational stories and screen content (eg: Love On The Spectrum, Employable Me) which spotlight and humanise under-represented people and communities.
- Common Ground (VIC): for an outstanding approach and commitment to producing innovative and unique content which centres First Nations storytellers and communities in the digital space.
- Anne Connolly (NSW): for her work as an impactful, change making investigative journalist who shines a light on human rights issues that are often unacknowledged or underreported.
Community Award | presented by AHRC + Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia
- Square Peg Round Whole (National): for outstanding volunteer-led work in relation to providing information about and advocating for inclusive education for neurodivergent children.
- Advocacy Tasmania (TAS): for more than 30 years of working to improve and restore human rights for Tasmanians and the broader community by providing individual advocacy, pursuing systemic change and providing education.
- Equality Australia and Sydney WorldPride (NSW): for supercharging the knowledge, skills and networks of 3200 LGBTIQA+ activists from around the world by delivering the 3-day Sydney WorldPride Human Rights Conference in March 2023, one of largest international LGBTQIA+ human rights conferences ever held.
- Sisters Inside (QLD): for outstanding work in relation to advocating for the rights of women and girls who are currently or have previously been in prison in Queensland, as well as supporting them to live safely and violence-free in prison and in the community when they leave prison.
Young People’s Award | presented by the EU Delegation to Australia
- Gabriel Osborne (WA): for exceptional and courageous advocacy for LGBTIQA+ survivors of institutional abuse and conversion practices.
- Sarah Williams (NSW): for outstanding advocacy and support for victims and survivors of sexual assault, especially as the founder of the What Were You Wearing project.
- Zahra Al Hilaly (WA): for exceptional advocacy in relation to the human rights and gender equity of young people in Australia and across the Asia Pacific, especially young people from refugee backgrounds.
- Maggie Blanden & Keshi Moore (VIC): for their outstanding work through Naarm Law Students on Voice to framing First Nations social justice issues using a human rights perspective and for addressing misinformation and disinformation about the Voice referendum across multiple youth-oriented platforms.
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