The 2000 Medal and Awards presentation ceremony was held on 10 December 2000 at Star Court, Darling Harbour in Sydney. The guest speaker was Dr Barney Pityana, President of the South African Human Rights Commission.
The judges were: Andrea Durbach, Faith Bandler, Peter Nugent MP, Ulrike Schuermann, Prashanth Shanmugan, Caroline Frohmader, Michael Curtotti, Greg Thompson, Sue Zelinka, Geraldine Walsh, Debra Jopson, Janine MacDonald, Mick O'Regan, Lew Griffiths, David Busch, John Cleary, Nicholas Cowdery QC, Stephen Connell and Ruth McColl SC.
human rights medal
Winner: Rt Hon. Malcolm Fraser AC CH
Malcolm Fraser was Prime Minister from 1975 to 1983. He established the original Human Rights Commission in 1981. As co-chair of the Commonwealth Group of Eminent Persons, he successfully promoted dialogue aimed at ending apartheid in South Africa. He has been Chairman of the Australian non-government international humanitarian aid organisation, CARE, since its formation in 1987 and President of CARE International from 1990-1995.
The judges said Mr Fraser had provided national leadership in the pursuit of human rights over a long period, including consistent support for reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians and leadership in the fight against racism nationally and internationally. In a piece written in May 1999 for the Council for Aboriginal Reconciliation, Mr Fraser said "Many Australians, especially of my generation, find it difficult to accept this picture of our past because it is so contrary to everything we have been taught. Recognition of the past, facing the past with honesty and openness is essential to the whole process. And that begins to point the way to what should be done."
law award - sponsored by the law council of australia
Winner: Indigenous Women's Program at the NSW Women's Legal Resources Centre
This independent program provides legal advice, outreach programs, community education and casework particularly in the areas of criminal and family law, child protection and family violence. The program has been involved in writing about Aboriginal women and the law for the NSW Law Handbook and the Indigenous Law Bulletin and contributing to education about family violence through their training video and comic for young people. Staff members are involved with other committees that are looking at Aboriginal women's access to discrimination complaints processes and researching issues relating to Aboriginal women in prison.
Winner: Darwin Community Legal Centre
Established in 1991, the Darwin Community Legal Service has campaigned against mandatory sentencing and domestic violence, pushed for better access for the disabled and promoted human rights. The judges were impressed by the range of issues tackled by the Centre and the methods of gathering community support - including use of the media and facilitating community debate on issues such as the impact of mandatory sentencing on people with an intellectual disability. They said the Centre tackled difficult issues and sometimes advocated a course of action that ran counter to prevailing community and political attitudes.
The Centre coordinates the community group Territorians for Effective Sentencing, has lobbied for better access to Indigenous interpreter services, organised the Annual Human Rights Arts Awards and successfully pushed for a police prosecutor dedicated to domestic violence matters.
arts non-fiction award
Winner: Jackson's Track: Memoir of a Dreamtime Place, Carolyn Landon and Daryl Tonkin
Jackson's Track is the true story of bushman Daryl Tonkin and his beloved Aboriginal wife Euphemia who, from the 1930s onwards, lived and worked along Jackson's Track in Gippsland in South Eastern Victoria. Tonkin, now in his eighties and living in a primitive shack in West Gippsland, related the story of his life to Landon, a local schoolteacher who taught his grandchildren.
Tonkin and his brother left Melbourne in 1936 and set up a timber mill at Jackson's Track, a Koori Dreamtime place. The book details Tonkin's estrangement from his family when he fell in love with Euphemia and makes important observations about life for Aboriginal Australians during that period.
The judges said Landon, using Tonkin's notes and interviews, was able to develop a well-crafted narrative that recaptures a community and a way of life now vanished, and presents a simple, but very important message. "Without any pretensions or polemics, the book underscores the values of respect for other human beings, respect for the equalising power of work, respect for education and respect for the environment."
Winner: Land of the Little Kings, Paul Robers, Des Kootji Raymond and Archie Roach
Land of the Little Kings is a feature-length documentary aired on SBS Television in early 2000. Its about the Stolen Generations, narrated by Archie Roach, who travels around Australia listening to the harrowing tales from those affected. The film portrays the human tragedy of the Stolen Generations and the piecing together of broken lives. It shows a nation in denial but also uses a circle analogy to show healing, kinship and integrity.
Paul Roberts and Des Kootji Raymond are independent filmmakers who have worked in partnership for six years. Land of the Little Kings was the unanimous choice for the judges, who said the film showed empathy as a key ingredient of reconciliation and should be in every school in Australia. It was the one program on the Stolen Children, they said, that physically demonstrated the empathy that needs to emerge before another person can join them on their journey.
Winner: Empires of Division: A Short History of Race, ABC Radio National - Gary Bryson (producer) and John Cochrane (technical producer)
The four part series charts the progress of ideas underpinning western notions of race "from Hippocrates to Hitler", looking at the nexus between race and religion, race and science, race and politics. Among other issues, the series examines social Darwinism and eugenics; hate crimes and the American politics of race, and Australian colonists' views of Indigenous Australians. Gary Bryson argues that the major function of race has been to create division out of diversity in order to justify western domination and "explain" political and cultural inequality.
The judges were impressed by the extensive research and the quality of the presentation. They did not necessarily agree with some of the analysis of the causes of racism, but found the program impressive and thought provoking. They said the program would be an excellent educative tool for students and the general public.
Winner: Indigenous Law Bulletin, University of New South Wales
The Indigenous Law Bulletin, published by the Indigenous Law Centre, Faculty of Law, University of New South Wales, impressed the judges with its depth and clarity and the effort made to publish information on issues often misunderstood. The judges said it advanced the observance of human rights for Indigenous Australians and could be used by journalists to inform their writing on Indigenous issues, by legal practitioners and the public. It tackles the issues that will be front and centre of the debate for Indigenous Australians in the next decade and beyond, they said.
Examples of issues covered by the Law Bulletin are mandatory sentencing in the Northern Territory (in a story called "Preventing Crime or 'Warehousing' the Underprivileged?"), Murrandoo Yanner's High Court case on traditional hunting rights (following the killing of crocodiles in the Gulf of Carpentaria) and a special edition on water rights including the Croker Island native title appeal to the Full Federal Court.