2018 Human Rights Medal - finalists announced

Friday 9 November 2018

Photo: (top left to right) Dr Barri Phatarfod, Father Rod Bower, Antoinette Braybrook, (bottom left to right) The Hon Peter McClellan AM QC, Chrissie Foster and Catherine Barrett.

Finalists for the most prestigious awards of its kind in Australia – the 2018 Human Rights Medal – have been revealed.

The judging panel evaluated 78 outstanding nominations from around the country to identify an impressive list of finalists.

“It is without a doubt that these finalists, along with their supporters, peers and colleagues, have driven remarkable and lasting change to the lives of thousands of individuals of all backgrounds,” said Commission President, Rosalind Croucher.

“Such achievements must be celebrated and acknowledged and what better way to do this than with the Human Rights Awards and of course, the highly coveted Human Rights Medal,” she said.

One of these finalists will be taking home the medal on December 14;

Antoinette Braybrook
Armed with little more than a mobile phone, a laptop and a modest grant, Antoinette established Djirra (then called the Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Legal Service Victoria) in 2002. She remains the CEO of the organisation and is the national convenor of the National Family Violence Prevention Legal Services Forum – which she campaigned to establish. Through her leadership and vision, Antoinette played a key role in the establishment of culturally appropriate legal services and support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families experiencing violence.

Dr Barri Phatarfod
Dr Phatarfod founded Doctors 4 Refugees five years ago, with the goal of helping asylum seekers and refugees access quality medical care, both on and offshore. Currently the membership is over 700 with more than 100 of these doctors including specialists actively reviewing the medical records and management of over 400 asylum seekers and refugees.  Dr Phatarfod and her group challenged the Australian Border Force Act and its contentious Secrecy provisions, which were eventually removed. Dr Phatarfod was last year recognised by Amnesty as one of Australia’s top human rights defenders.

Father Rod Bower
The venerable Father Rod Bower is an Anglican priest and Rector of Gosford where he has served for 19 years and Archdeacon of the Central Coast. The ambassador for the Refugee Council of Australia is also an advocate for a broad range of social justice issues, including marriage equality. Despite attacks on himself and his parish, Father Bower has refused to be silenced and is well-known for the thought-provoking signs outside his church that promote equality, justice and human rights for all.

The Hon Peter McClellan AM QC and Chrissie Foster
Justice McClellan led the five-year Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. It was unprecedented in Australian history in terms of length, size or complexity and led to the Prime Minister’s National Apology to Victims and Survivors in October 2018. Justice McClellan demonstrated remarkable compassion and leadership in the conduct of these hearings.

Chrissie Foster has long campaigned for justice for survivors of institutional child sexual abuse. Two of Mrs Foster’s daughters were sexually abused by a Catholic priest - one has since passed away. With dignity, grace and strength, Mrs Foster and her family have publicly held institutions to account in the hope that history will not repeat itself.

Dr Catherine Barrett
After a long nursing career and with a goal to make older people visible, safe and receive the respect and dignity they deserve, Dr Barrett established Celebrate Ageing. The organisation raises awareness through events, educational services and other programs to draw attention to issues such as elder abuse, sexual assault, dementia, ageism and the media, aged-care facilities and more. Dr Barrett is also a national and international leader in the rights of older people. She has also worked extensively with the ageing LGBTI+ communities.

LexisNexis is the Major Sponsor and Sponsor of the 2018 Human Rights Medal.

Seats for the 2018 Human Rights Award gala event are still available. The event will take place at Sydney’s Westin Hotel on Friday, 14 December at 12pm.