The 2001 Medal and Awards presentation ceremony was held on 9 December 2001 at Star Court, Darling Harbour in Sydney. The guest speaker was Professor Gillian Triggs.

The judges were: Rt Hon. Ian Sinclair AC, Justice Elizabeth Evatt AC, Jackie Huggins AM, Nicholas Cowdery QC, Justice Catherine Branson, Ruth McColl SC, Mark Davis, Dr David McKnight, Vivian Schenker, Dr Peter O'Brien, Nick Xynias AO BEM, Faye Druitt, Jose Borghino and Dr Andrew Riemer.

human rights medal

winner: the late dr arnold "puggy" hunter (1951-2001)

Dr Hunter's fearless advocacy and outstanding leadership in the area of Indigenous health earned him the respect of a wide range of people. While he fought uncompromisingly for the cause, Dr Hunter was regarded respectfully, even affectionately, by his counterparts in politics and government. The judges acknowledged Dr Hunter's unwavering commitment over many years to improving Aboriginal health in the face of hostility, disruption to his family, financial hardship and his own health.

As the inaugural Chairman of the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation since 1991 until his death, Dr Hunter had worked far beyond the level of his professional responsibility. He was a member of several key Aboriginal health, policy and advisory groups. He negotiated framework agreements on Aboriginal health to improve the coordination of health service delivery by all spheres of government. He also negotiated Medicare agreements with the Federal Health Minister to give the Aboriginal Community Health Services the legal ability to bulk bill Medicare and arrangements under the PBS to supply medicines through Aboriginal health services in remote areas.

law award - sponsored by the law council of australia

Winner: HIV/AIDS Legal Centre

Operating with a small staff of just one full-time solicitor and two part-time support staff, the HIV/AIDS Legal Centre provides people living with HIV/AIDS with legal advice, and conducts law reform and community education projects in their interests. Areas of legal advocacy undertaken by the Centre include discrimination and vilification complaints, unfair dismissal, superannuation and insurance claims, complaints relating to medical and health services, and guardianships.

The legal advice they provide is free - appropriate given the economic hardship which is faced by many living with HIV/AIDS. They also provide a broad range of legal services, from face-to-face advice through to legal representation in case work matters, and a hospital outreach service.

community award

Winner: Women with Disabilities Australia

Established in 1994, Women with Disabilities Australia has achieved an enormous amount in a short period of time, working tirelessly on behalf of one of the most marginalised and disadvantaged groups in Australia. The group is the peak organisation for women with all types of disabilities, linking similar local and regional organisations across Australia. Its central aim is to improve the status of women with disabilities through education, support, information, and systemic and individual advocacy.

Although it has a domestic focus, the organisation has provided inspiration for women with disabilities all over the world and is often consulted by groups internationally, from the USA to the Ukraine. The organisation has achieved not only a high profile for itself, but advanced the interests of its constituents nationally. In early 2000, the organisation was invited by the United Nations to apply for the UN Millennium Peace Prize for Women.

arts non-fiction award

Winner: Borderline, Peter Mares

Borderline is a thoroughly researched yet tightly written book about Australia's treatment of asylum seekers. Peter Mares, the presenter of Asia Pacific on Radio Australia and Radio National, urges a more compassionate approach to asylum seekers while acknowledging the very real difficulties, in a political and practical sense, of implementing refugee policy.

The book is the culmination of extensive research into the legal and policy framework for asylum seekers and refugees entering Australia - and a collection of individual, sometimes heart wrenching, stories. The judges said Borderline was by far the most outstanding entry - an honest, thoughtful and powerful work. They said that the author was able to identify and discuss the human rights issues surrounding asylum seekers without being politically partisan or doctrinaire.

general media award

Winner: The Health of Asylum Seekers in Detention, The Health Report, ABC Radio National - Toni Hassan (reporter)

This report highlighted the health concerns, both physical and mental, of asylum seekers in detention centres. It included interviews with a number of leading mental health and medical professionals, who gave disturbing testimony about the health of detainees. One of the practitioners interviewed is himself a detainee. The judges commended this entry for its deliberate reluctance to engage in debate about the legitimacy of refugee claims, instead focussing on the issue of conditions in detention centres. The judges were also impressed by the extensive field work undertaken by Ms Hassan.

Winner: Inside Story, Four Corners, ABC Television - Peter McEvoy (producer) and Debbie Whitmont (reporter)

The judges said while they acknowledged the controversial nature of the program they were impressed with the human side of detention presented - voices that the Australian public had not heard before. Seeing asylum seekers as human beings prompted around 5,000 people to contact the Four Corners online forum about the program.

The judges were impressed by the fact that the program succeeded in expanding the debate over asylum seekers beyond the mere question of whether the claims of asylum seekers are legitimate. The result was a first person account of asylum seekers' experiences in detention in Australia.