The 2006 Medal and Awards presentation ceremony was held on 7 December 2006 at a luncheon at the Sheraton on the Park hotel in Sydney. The Human Rights Day address was delivered by Commission President, the Hon. John von Doussa QC and Julie McCrossin was the MC.

The judges of the 2006 Human Rights Medal and Awards who give their time and expertise on a voluntary basis included: Professor Christopher Newell, Bain Attwood, Professor Sally Morgan, David Vadiveloo, Jody Broun, Jenny Earle, Voula Messimeri, Romlie Mokak, Maurice Corcoran, Kevin Cocks, Professor Larissa Behrendt, Ian Kiernan AO OAM, David Marr, Alan Kennedy, Patricia Karvelas, Tom Fayle, Cath Dywer, Stephen Crittenden, Peter Mares, Helen Grasswill, Ned Lander, Justice John Sulan, Justice Virginia Bell and Nicholas Cowdery QC.

All the winners, highly commended and shortlisted entries are congratulated for their achievements. The Commission received many quality nominations for this year’s Human Rights Medal and Awards. We thank all of those who nominated for their support of the Awards, and their commitment and dedication to promoting human rights in Australia.

human rights medal

Joint Winner: Phillip Adams AO

Joint Winner: Father Chris Riley AM

Mr Adams co-founded the sub-titling service that made television accessible to the hearing impaired, and has won international awards for his ‘Break Down the Barriers’ campaign for the International Year of Disabled Persons and for the International Year of the Child with the ‘Care of the Kids’ campaign. More recently he helped establish Australians for Just Refugee Programs, funding the venture with support from the readers of his newspaper columns. This organisation evolved into A Just Australia and Mr Adams is now Chair of Rights Australia - an organisation intended to tackle a wide range of human rights issues. For decades he has also focused on national and international human rights issues in his radio program Late Night Live.    

Father Riley has established a variety of programs to assist in breaking the cycle of poverty, disadvantage and marginalisation of young people. His Youth off the Street (YOTS) programs and services have helped over 60,000 young people since they were first established in 1991.

The judges also highly commended Dr Caroline Taylor for the 2006 Human Rights Medal for her advocacy work for the rights of women and children.

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law award - sponsored by the law council of australia

Winner: Peter Siedel

Charitable, not-for-profit and Indigenous organisations have been recognised with the 2006 Human Rights Law Award. Two entries were highly commended in this year’s awards - Dan Toombs of Queeensland’s Disability Law Project, and Lawrence Laikind’s efforts through the Disability Discrimination Legal Advocacy Service.

arts non-fiction award

Winner: Quentin Beresford's Rob Riley: An Aboriginal Leaders Quest for Justice

Rob Riley: An Aboriginal Leaders Quest for Justice, charts the journey for justice of a man who did much to confront two of Australia’s most complex contemporary issues – the position of Indigenous Australians and refugees. Known for his humility, clarity, sense of humour, capacity for friendship and above all for his courage, Rob Riley’s life as portrayed in the book is described by the judging panel as “very moving” and one needed by the Australian community at this time. The book focuses on racism and social inequality and explores the way Rob Riley worked both within and outside government to raise and fight for key issues for Indigenous people.

The judges also highly commended the entry, No Country is an Island: Australia and International Law, by Professor Hilary Charlesworth, Madelaine Chiam, Devika Hovell and Professor George Williams.

print media award

Winner: Australia’s War Crimes Fiasco by Sydney Morning Herald journalists Debra Jopson and Lisa Pryor

Australia’s War Crimes Fiasco by Sydney Morning Herald journalists Debra Jopson and Lisa Pryor, shocked readers by revealing that dozens of men suspected of horrific atrocities overseas were living freely in Australia courtesy of loopholes in the asylum seeker system – the very system set-up to protect the human rights of their victims.

Two entries were highly commended this year the first, The Murder Capital of Australia by The Age’s Russell Skelton, which spotlighted the high levels of sexual and physical violence and death occurring in town camps around Alice Springs.

Also highly commended was Nick Walshaw’s A Life Worth Living published in Rugby League Week.

television award

Winner: Central Australia Series by Suzanne Smith, Tony Jones, Brett Evans and Bronwen Reed from ABC TV’s Lateline program

A series on the challenges and tragedies facing Indigenous people in Central Australia has won this year’s Human Rights Award for Television.
The Central Australia Series exposed the heartbreaking incidence of child abuse and consequences of petrol sniffing and family violence in Central Australia.

Jenny Brockie, Skye Docherty and Amy Laging of SBS’ Insight program were highly commended for their Gay Marriage episode.

radio award

Winner: Being Deaf Pt 1: Time Lost and Pt 2: Deaf and Proud by Kirsti Melville, ABC Radio National, Street Stories

A radio series about the grief, challenges and complexities for hearing parents who are raising deaf children has won this year’s Human Rights Radio Award.
The series Being Deaf Pt 1: Time Lost and Pt 2: Deaf and Proud by Kirsti Melville of ABC Radio National’s Street Stories program, focussed on the hurdles and highlights of deaf babies who are born to hearing parents throughout Australia every year. Offering a valuable insight into the politics of deaf culture, the series captured the grief of hearing parents who know nothing of deafness and are unprepared for the challenges ahead. Described by the judges as a “very sophisticated and moving insight” into the deaf world, the series was original and thought-provoking radio that made listeners think about deafness in a different way.

Living Like a Slave by David Mark broadcast on ABC Radio’s PM program was highly commended in this year’s awards for breaking the story of two Korean nationals and the company that illegally employed them. The company’s subsequent mistreatment of their workplace injuries and denial of superannuation, compensation and other entitlements led to intense public discussion and debate in federal Parliament about employer exploitation of the 457 visa.

Sex and the Intellectually Disabled by Damien Carrick and Anita Barraud of ABC Radio National’s Law Report program was also highly commended for its probe into this rarely discussed legal and social issue.

community award (organisation)

Winner: Edmund Rice Centre

Edmund Rice Centre has a long history fighting for the rights of Indigenous people and those involved in the horror of people trafficking, but its work on the Asylum Seeker Returnees Program won them the 2006 Community (Organisation) Award. There were two highly commended entries in the Community (Organisation) category - South Sydney Youth Services and National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)


community award (individual)

Winner: Virginia Walker

Virginia Walker co-founded the Bridge for Asylum Seekers in 2003 by rustling together a group of friends when she realised those released from Villawood Detention Centre were cut adrift with no rights or access to Medicare services. Since then, Virginia has built up a network of friends and supporters who have raised and allocated more than $500,000 to provide a basic living allowance to families in Australia on bridging visas.

Kari Kristiansen was highly commended in the Community (Individual) category for her individual and systemic advocacy on behalf of – and alongside – Indigenous people and their human rights.


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