FINALISTS ANNOUNCED FOR THE HUMAN RIGHTS AWARDS!

We’re excited to announce the incredible finalists for the following Award categories:

Human Rights Medal

Aimee McVeigh
Brisbane-based lawyer Aimee McVeigh founded and led the campaign for Queensland to introduce a Human Rights Act from 2015 until its successful passage in March this year. The legislation provides some of the strongest protections for human rights in Australia. Aimee marshalled over 40 community organisations and legal centres in support of the campaign, which involved submissions to government, coordinated lobbying and media appearances.

Bruce Pascoe
Professor Bruce Pascoe’s ongoing research into Aboriginal agriculture challenges the widespread belief that Aboriginal Australians were hunter-gatherers. This belief was used to justify dispossession of Aboriginal lands, but Bruce’s multi-award-winning book Dark Emu uses early explorers’ diaries to reveal complex food production and land management systems used by Aboriginal people. He also seeks to revive these systems and develop a national industry of Aboriginal foodstuffs.

Craig Foster
Former Socceroo, broadcaster and well known football personality, Craig Foster led the successful campaign supporting Bahraini refugee Hakeem al-Araibi’s release from Thai detention at the beginning of this year. He travelled across the world — to Thailand, where al-Araibi faced extradition to Bahrain, to Geneva, Amsterdam and FIFA in Zurich — lobbying for his release. Foster is also a refugee and human rights ambassador with Amnesty and Human Rights Watch and is involved in both refugee and indigenous children’s sport programs.

Richard Boele
Richard Boele has promoted human rights in various capacities for over 30 years. He has worked with the Amnesty International Business and Human Rights group, the Australia Tibet Council, and the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation (UNPO). Recently, he has worked as a human rights business consultant at his own firm, Banarra, and is now at KPMG, where he aims to make corporate responsibility for human rights the norm.

Rosemary Kayess
Rosemary Kayess is a leading disability rights activist, academic, and lawyer. She contributed to drafting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and successfully lobbied for its ratification in Australia. She teaches international human rights law and publishes extensively on international human rights for people with disability. She is currently Vice Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
 


Young People’s Human Rights Medal

Madison Birtchnell

Madison is a champion for gender equality and the health and wellbeing of women. Serving her Queensland community as a member of the YWCA Sub-Committee and volunteer for the National Council of Women of Queensland, she plays an integral role in contributing to programs and policies that promote justice for women.

Marlee and Keely Silva

Indigenous sister duo, Marlee and Keely Silva, co-founded Tiddas 4 Tiddas, a social media platform dedicated to sharing the stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. Marlee and Keely  use their voices and platform to help empower young Indigenous women to know their worth and capabilities. 

Keeley Johnson

At the age of 13, Keeley Johnson, a young girl with an intellectual disability and autism, founded the not-for-profit organisation, Keeley’s Cause. Keeley’s Cause provides iPads for children living with disabilities to assist and with their education and ability to communicate.

Franklin Hooper

At the age of 17, Franklin identified a lack of inclusivity of the LGBTQIA+ community in the education systems of rural and remote areas of Australia. To combat this, Franklin designed a program called the Connectedness Workshop Collection to add LGBTQIA+ perspectives into rural education systems. 

Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts

Vanessa Turnbull Roberts is a proud Bundjalung woman, writer and youth leader. She dedicates her time to fighting against injustices that disproportionately affect her community. Through community activism, Vanessa draws awareness to forced adoption legalisation and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in incarceration.

 


Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Community Individual Award

Jasmine Cavanagh

Jasmine led a successful class action case against the Northern Territory Government over unjust public housing policies for Aboriginal tenants. She advocates for dignified housing conditions to increase positive outcomes for Indigenous communities in rural areas. Jasmine’s community activism paves the way for other remote communities to replicate her success

Michael Combs

Michael’s organisations CareerTrackers and CareerSeekers use internship and mentoring opportunities to professionally develop, nurture and support Indigenous Australians, refugees and asylum seekers. By creating pathways and opportunities, both organisations have helped thousands of students and professionals graduate and gain employment.  

Philip Feinstein

Philip is a musician and long-time advocate for the rights of asylum seekers and refugees. In 2009 he founded Music for Refugees, a self-funded program that has expanded into many Australian detention centres, encouraging music as a creative outlet for self-expression and community cohesion.  

Joel Clark

With extensive experience working for human rights organisations, Joel is an advocate for young people, for Indigenous and LGBTQIA+ rights, and as someone with lived-experience, mental health reform.  Over the last two years, Joel played an integral role in the coordination of the successful campaign to remove children from Queensland watch houses.

Nathalie Servant

Nathalie has dedicated her life’s work to championing human rights, social inclusion and resilience building within her local region. In 2008, Nathalie developed the Launceston Human Library, a project designed to promote dialogue, reduce prejudices and encourage understanding through community-based storytelling.

 


Community Organisation Award

Digital Rights Watch

Digital Rights Watch seeks to ensure Australians are equipped, enabled and empowered to uphold their digital rights. In 2018 they released their State of Digital Rights report, which outlined the impact of changing technology and government policy on human rights in Australia.

Asian Women at Work

Asian Women at Work empowers women to stand up, speak out and take collective action to advocate for their rights. Representing over 2,000 members, their aim is to prevent workplace and/or domestic exploitation while also helping migrant women obtain secure employment and contribute to Australian society.

CREATE Foundation

CREATE Foundation represents the voices of children and young people with out-of-home care experience, including foster care, kinship care and residential care. CREATE develops programs and policy across Australia to advocate for a better system based on the voices of those who have firsthand care experience.

Just Reinvest NSW

Just Reinvest NSW works to reduce the number of Aboriginal people in prisons by supporting community-led justice reinvestment initiatives and advocating for systemic change to the criminal justice system. Community-led justice reinvestment initiatives support self-determination and capacity building through place-based and data driven solutions to the challenges facing many communities.

CARAD: Centre for Asylum seekers, refugees and detainees

CARAD advocates for the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and detainees in Western Australia. The program’s community activism provides a range of practical programs that promote wellbeing, relief and support services. CARAD draws attention to the systematic issues that affect vulnerable communities’ ability to access justice.

 


Government Award

Armidale Regional Council

Armidale Regional Council (ARC) champions the integration and wellbeing of refugees in their community. The Council’s approach is proactive, innovative and culturally sensitive, including initiatives such as volunteering opportunities, the promotion of cultural rights through spaces for traditional cultural practices, and raising awareness about refugees in the wider Armidale community.

Child Sexual Offence Evidence Program NSW

The Child Sexual Offence Evidence Program has significantly improved access to justice in child sexual offence cases. By introducing specialist District Court judges, pre-recorded hearings for cross-examination and witness intermediaries, the program has helped child victims of sexual offences navigate the criminal justice system, reduced the time children spend at Court, and minimised participants’ stress.

MATE Bystander Program, Griffith University

The MATE Bystander Program is a community-based, primary prevention strategy aimed at preventing violence against women by focusing on the role of bystanders, rather than victims or perpetrators of violence. By educating participants on the link between gender inequality and violence against women, MATE’s “change makers” highlight how bystanders can create change.

Services Our Way, Aboriginal Housing Office

Services Our Way (SOW) provides a culturally informed and trauma sensitive support service for the Indigenous community in NSW that is designed, managed and delivered by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. SOW helps clients determine and articulate their needs and goals and has helped to promote greater social harmony and spiritual, physical, emotional and generational wellbeing.

South Australian Government in partnership with Vision Australia and the Royal Society for the Blind (SA)

Co-designed with not-for-profits, people with disability and leaders in the disability sector, the South Australian Government’s publicly available Online Accessibility Policy and Toolkit (accessibility.sa.gov.au) seek to combine policy with practical solutions to promote human rights and access to technology. The policy and toolkit assist organisations and governments in making their digital platforms accessible for a range of people, including but not limited to, those with disability; older Australians and people from non-English speaking backgrounds.

 


Law Award

Castan Centre for Human Rights Law

The Castan Centre for Human Rights Law promotes human rights in Australia and internationally through research, education and policy programmes. Its student programmes prepare the next generation of human rights leaders, while its professional training programmes enhance human rights-compatible governance. It has influenced developments in, for example, Indigenous rights, refugee law, reproductive rights, LGBTQI+ rights, and business and human rights.

Joanne Pugsley

Joanne Pugsley is a leading legal practitioner at Anti-Slavery Australia who is dedicated to ending human trafficking and slavery. Joanne represents women and girls who have been trafficked, taken from Australia for forced marriage, or are trapped in domestic servitude. She remains a committed advocate despite illness and the loss of her physical voice, using a text-to-voice program to advise her clients.

John Alati

John Alati has made outstanding contributions to the community legal sector over his 13-year career. As the Supervising Solicitor of Street Law and the Night Legal Advice Service at Canberra Community Law, he provides frontline advice to Indigenous Australians, refugees and asylum seekers, prisoners, and people with disability while promoting human rights through education and law reform submissions.

Kate Eastman SC

Kate Eastman SC is a distinguished human rights lawyer and academic. Her work over nearly three decades in discrimination law and human rights has involved a significant amount of pro bono work, taking on cases about slavery, human trafficking, sexual harassment, equal pay, disability rights, the rights of detainees, children and asylum seekers. She has contributed to many human rights organisations, engaged in human rights law reform and education in Australia and overseas.

The Shopfront Youth Legal Centre

The Shopfront Youth Legal Centre (The Shopfront) provides free legal services for homeless and disadvantaged young people in and around Sydney. Run jointly by Herbert Smith Freehills, Mission Australia and The Salvation Army, The Shopfront’s legal representation, social support, education and advocacy promotes positive outcomes and justice for marginalised young people, including survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

 


Racism. It stops with me (RISWM)

All Together Now

Driven by an intersectional and community-based approach, All Together Now (ATN) uses programs, events and evidence to educate Australians about racism. ATN leads major projects such as ‘Give Racism the Finger’, the Everyday Racism App and media monitoring to promote racial equity in collaboration with partners.

The Final Quarter

Produced by Shark Island Productions, The Final Quarter uses archival footage of the last three years of Adam Goodes’ AFL career to highlight the prevalence of racism in Australia. Speaking to the discrimination faced by Indigenous Australians in particular, the film has generated a conversation prompting all Australians to reflect on their understanding of racism.

The Peer Advocacy Team

The Peer Advocacy Team advocate for and support young people who have been impacted by discriminatory and unlawful police contact and abuse. The eight fantastic young people who form the team foster this mission through outreach and empowering, peer-led workshops and events that provide concrete support for participants to address discrimination.

Prudence Melom

Prudence Melom is the founder of E-Raced, a program for school students that champions the stories of refugees and immigrants who have migrated to Australia. Prudence’s tireless work to prioritise refugees’ voices promotes empathy and understanding of their humanity and experiences, challenging pre-conceived stereotypes and racism.

Sharon Gollan

Sharon Gollan is a descendent of the Ngarrindjeri nation of South Australia, with family and cultural connections to many communities within and beyond South Australia. Her advocacy addresses institutionalised and systemic racism. For instance, she developed the ‘Cultural Respect and Safety – engaging respectfully with Aboriginal Australia’ workshop to educate about and reduce racism in the workplace.


Media Award

ABC Investigation into Aged Care
This series of stories across ABC TV, Radio and Online, including two Four Corners programs, exposed widespread abuse, neglect and inhumane treatment of people living in aged care facilities. These revelations started a conversation about age and disability rights as the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was announced.

Filthy Rich and Homeless, Series 2
In its second series, Filthy Rich and Homeless again highlighted Australia’s homelessness crisis. Following five high-profile Australians living homeless for ten days, the documentary series makes the experience of homelessness – a daily reality for 116,000 Australians – accessible to audiences at home with sensitivity and questions assumptions about people experiencing homelessness.

Inside the Watch House 
This Four Corners program revealed the detention of children, some as young as ten, in high-security adult watch houses in Queensland. After the program was aired, the Queensland Government investigated the issue and established a new Youth Justice Department. All children were moved out of Brisbane watch houses and placed in youth detention centres.

See What You Made Me Do
Jess Hill’s forensic, thought-provoking investigation into domestic violence reveals the social and legal barriers to access to justice and support for victims. See What You Made Me Do holds perpetrators to account alongside the institutions that enable them, advancing the national conversation on domestic abuse and keeping this important issue in the spotlight.

The interview which uncovered an alleged torturer
In February 2019, Adriana Rivas, a former Chilean intelligence agent was arrested in Bondi.  She’s accused of aggravated kidnapping of seven dissidents in the 1970s. The arrest follows Florencia Melgar’s investigation on Australia‘s involvement in Pinochet’s coup and an extensive interview with Rivas, where she self-incriminates of escaping Chile to hide in Australia. Melgar has been investigating human rights violations for more than 20 years.


Business Award

Australian Council of Superannuation Investors
The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) works with ASX300 companies to improve their environmental, social and governance performance. Their work includes research and raising awareness on modern slavery, workplace safety and domestic violence, advocating for increased representation of women on the boards of ASX300 companies, and addressing wage fraud in franchise companies.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia
Developed in partnership with Settlement Services International, the Commonwealth Bank’s Financial Literacy Toolkit is designed to help newly arrived refugees become financially independent and safe from risks that are detrimental to their financial stability. It provides information about spending, budgeting and paying bills and includes a guide for case managers to support this program.

Professional Footballers Australia
Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) was involved in the successful campaign to secure Bahraini refugee Hakeem al-Araibi’s release from detention in Thailand at the beginning of this year. They also advocate for pay equity for female footballers. Having achieved this at the national representative level, they are now seeking equal World Cup Prize Money for women.

STREAT
STREAT is a Melbourne-based social enterprise tackling youth homelessness and disadvantage by providing a supported pathways to employment or further study. STREAT runs 7 cafes, a coffee roastery, a bakery and events company which provide training and work experience for young people in need.  STREAT generates 80% of its own income through its businesses with the remaining 20% via grants, foundations and corporate support.