The Commission established the Human Rights Medal to be presented annually in recognition of outstanding personal endeavour in the cause of human rights. The choice of recipient, after open nomination, is made by an independent panel. The Medal is designed and made by Melbourne based Michael Meszaros, an international award-winning medal designer and sculptor.

The 1987 Human Rights Medal was presented to Ms Rose Colless OAM, for her outstanding work for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Far North Queensland.

The 1987 Human Rights Awards honoured achievements in literature, film and the media in the promotion of understanding and public discussion of human rights in Australia. The distinctive crystal awards were designed and made by South Australian glass artist, Pavel Tomecko.

human rights medal

Winner: Ms Rose Colless OAM

Ms Rose Colless, an Aboriginal women was born in 1928 and left school in Grade 7. Active in housing and other activities to support her people, Ms Colless has worked intensively for over fifteen years in drug and alcohol rehabilitation for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. For over eleven years she has been the Manager of the Aborigines and Islander Alcohol Relief Service Limited in Cairns. She has also worked for the Department of Social Security, the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service and the Queensland Department of Aboriginal Advancement.

Rose Colless runs a meal service in the parks of Cairns and caters for local homeless aborigines. Her OAM was awarded in 1984.

literature and other writing awards

Winner: My Place - Sally Morgan, West Australian writer

For her autobiographical study.

Winner: Dreamtime Nightmares - Bill Rosser, Queensland historian

Aboriginal men and women tell their experience of life and work on the cattle stations of the North.

Winner: No Sugar - Jack Davies, West Australian poet and playwright

Illustrating the struggle of family life for Aborigines in Western Australia in the 1930's.

film award

Winner: How the West was Lost - David Noakes

Documentary of a moving account of the struggle of black station workers in Western Australia and the 1946-50 strike for better conditions.

television drama award

Winner: Mother and Son - John O'Grady

Portraying a woman suffering from senile dementia and her interaction with her family.

television documentary award

Winner:Suzie's Story - Iain Gillespie

The personal account of a Sydney family whose lives were devastated by the AIDS virus.

radio documentary award

Winner: Being Aboriginal - Ros Bowden

For her series of six radio documentaries in which Aboriginal people explain how they are communicating their people's history within their own communities.

print newspapers award

Winner: A Struggle for Natural Justice: Australian and New Zealand Victims of Nazi Persecution - Paul Rea

For his series of Articles.