The 1998 Medal and Awards presentation ceremony was held on 10 December 1998 at the conclusion of the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Conference - Human Rights, Human Values: What do we think now? The luncheon was held at the Dockside Conference Centre, Darling Harbour in Sydney. Special guest was the Governor-General, Sir William Deane and John Doyle was the MC.

The judges were: Doug Anderson, Michael Antrum, Lee Burton, Archbishop Peter Carnley, Michael Cordell, Michael Curtotti, John Foote, Jacqueline Gillespie, Liz Jackson, Carol Kendall, Damien Keogh, Ningali Josie Lawford, Michael Lynch, Sarah McDonald, Brian Pickett, Ulrike Schuermann, Adam Spencer, Rohan Squirchuck, Greg Thompson, Helen Vatsikopoulos, Maureen Wheeler, Sue Williams, Susan Wyndham and Tom Zubycki.

human rights medal

Winner: Vivi Germanos Koutsounadis

A founding member of the Ethnic Communities Council and Founder and Executive Director of an Ethnic Childcare Cooperative, Vivi Germanos Koutsounadis was awarded the Human Rights Medal in recognition of her three decades of advocacy and community work across a broad range of social welfare areas. Her work also included Aboriginal welfare, childcare, women's issues, aged care and disability issues. A strong advocate of equal rights, Vivi has worked at both a grass roots and policy level of many community-based organisations; lobbying for resources and funding on behalf of disadvantaged groups.

Growing up in Redfern, and her experiences as a child of a Greek migrant family, shaped Vivi's belief in the need for communities to work together on common social issues, regardless of their backgrounds. In the past five years she has been extensively involved in the promotion of the rights of children, working with a range of advocacy groups to encourage government and community organisations to take steps to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

community award

Winner: Sea of Hands campaign, Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation

One hundred and twenty thousand coloured, larger than life-sized hands, pitched into the ground, became a widely recognised symbol of justice and reconciliation, both in Australia and overseas, over the past year. As the Sea of Hands travelled around the country, close to 200,000 Australians signed a statement to support justice and recognition of native title as well as reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

corporate award

Winner: Talking Fruit television commercial, Berri Limited

In August 1998, Berri, the Australian-owned fruit juice manufacturer, ran television advertisements featuring talking fruit. The ad called on its audience to celebrate Australia's cultural diversity and reject intolerance. The company then followed up with newspaper ads calling on readers to "label fruit, not people". The company was acknowledged by the judging panel for its courageous, high-risk strategy that provoked a significant amount of public discussion and comment.

Winner: Thumbs-Up for Reconciliation campaign, The Body Shop

This in-store campaign involved over 100,000 people leaving their thumb print as a sign of their commitment to a "united Australia which respect this land of ours, values our Indigenous heritage and provides justice and equity for all". The judging panel was impressed by The Body Shop's commitment to reconciliation through its vibrant and community-orientated campaign that included a comprehensive staff training program.

arts literature award

Winner: Land of the Golden Clouds, Archie Weller

A novel set in Australia, 3,000 years into the future, where an unlikely band of travellers from different civilisations join forces to defeat a common enemy. To do this however, they must first overcome their own prejudices while traversing a vast continent. One of the novel's achievements is that it promotes greater harmony between individuals and groups of different race, colour and ethnic origin through an entertaining medium.

arts non-fiction award

Winner: Little Brother, Little Sister, Belinda Mason

This documentary film explored why an Australian family chose to adopt an orphaned Ethiopian sister and brother and how they were all transformed by the experience. Writer/director Belinda Mason documented the unfolding story of this extraordinary family as they underwent momentous change over an eighteen month period. Little Brother, Little Sister is a film about the power of family ties - both those out of sight and those in full view.

television award

Winner: Death Sentence, Four Corners, ABC Television - Margot O'Neill and Lisa McGregor

This program investigated the deaths of two teenagers in the Western Australian prison system in the light of a dramatic jump in the number of prison deaths in the state, especially among young white men. It uncovered a brutal system out of touch with the increasing number of unemployed and illiterate street kids flooding the gaols.

radio award

Winner: Deaf Blindness, Life Matters, ABC Radio National - Anne Arnold

Carleeta Manser, an exceptional deaf blind person, was the subject of this powerful human story and unique form of radio interview. Having had sight until her early twenties, she knows sign language. In the interview, Carleeta communicated through holding the hands of her interpreter to interpret the questions put to her by Anne. She then signed her own responses and coloured the silence with expressive noises. The interview also examined the broader context of deaf blindness and gave a rare insight into that little known world.

print media award

Winner: Various articles by Karen Kissane, The Age

Karen Kissane is a senior writer from The Age who submitted a range of feature articles, opinion pieces and editorials. The articles covered a broad spectrum of human rights issues including privatisation of prisons, protection of children in care, suicide prevention, reconciliation, the rights of gay couples, maternity leave and disability issues. Her work was acknowledged by the judging panel for its consistent quality of investigation and excellence in reporting on a diverse range of issues.

youth award

Winner: Australian Association of Young People in Care

The Australian Association of Young People in Care was established in 1993 to ensure that children and young people in care are afforded the same life opportunities as all of Australia's children. The organisation focuses on empowering young people to advocate for themselves and each other within the care system. This is to ensure that their voices are heard by service providers and governments so that the latter may become more responsive to their needs.