> 2018 Winners announced here


Human Rights Medal

The Human Rights Medal is awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights in Australia.

Proudly sponsored by LexisNexis

Composite of photos of 2018 Human Rights Medal finalists


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 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.

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 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.


Young People's Human Rights Medal

The Young People's Human Rights Medal is awarded to an individual, under the age of 25 years, who has made an outstanding contribution to advancing human rights in Australia.

HRA Young Medal Finalists


Saxon Mullins
Following a five-year criminal legal process consisting of two trials and two appeals with no final resolution, Saxon exhibited immense bravery in publicly sharing her story of sexual assault in order to promote debate around the need for legal reforms. Her advocacy triggered a review into NSW sexual assault laws to better protect victims and survivors of sexual assault and violence.


Madison Birtchnell
Madison is a passionate young advocate for human rights and freedoms particularly gender equality and the rights of people with a disability. Madison holds multiple community-based volunteer roles in Queensland and this year she held a series of events to raise awareness about mental health issues in young people. Madison also champions equal access to public spaces in her community for people with a disability.

Scout Sylva-Richardson
13 year old Scout has an autistic 11 year old brother, Jay. Scout created a resource for schools, siblings and families explaining what autism is and understanding how best to engage and understand people with spectrum disorders. The book is written through the eyes of her brother Jay and has been distributed to schools, libraries and community organisations in South Australia.

Narayan Khanal
Born in a refugee camp in Nepal, Narayan and his Bhutanese family came to Australia on a humanitarian visa when he was 12 years old. Now studying at the University of Wollongong, Narayan has established the Multicultural Society of UOW in order to promote inclusiveness, diversity and acceptance through the exchange of stories, food and cultural beliefs.

Apajok Biar
African refugee Apajok has experienced racial abuse first-hand. At 19, she established the South Sudan Voices of Salvation Inc. and is committed to giving refugees a voice and changing the negative perception some parts of the media and community have towards refugees, particularly those from Africa. Apajok is not only a multicultural ambassador and advisor, but has also represented Australia and the UN High Commission for Refugees in Geneva.


Media Award

The Media Award is awarded for any published work in the media broadcast or published in Australia. This can include television and radio programs, documentaries, and books, print and online articles.

Composite of Media Award finalist photos and graphics


Guilty of being stolen

This NITV investigation revealed that many children taken into state care — including Aboriginal children who were forcibly removed from their families — acquired a criminal record as a result. These ‘offences’ could count against them later in life, with potentially serious consequences. Following the investigation, the Victorian Government announced that it would seek to expunge these supposed ‘offences’.


Bronwyn Adcock, The Monthly
Sick on the inside

Bronwyn Adcock’s investigation for The Monthly focused on the link between deaths in custody and inadequate mental health support in prisons. It revealed a system struggling to meet the needs of people with significant mental health issues, at times leading to tragic and avoidable deaths.

You Can't Ask That - Survivors of Sexual Assault

In this compelling episode of ABC’s You Can’t Ask That series, survivors of different ages, genders and backgrounds spoke candidly about their experiences of sexual assault. The program provided a powerful rebuttal to many of the common myths about sexual assault, as well as highlighting the strength and resilience of survivors.

Gina Rushton, Buzzfeed
Coverage of abortion law reform and related issues

Gina Rushton produced an informative and engaging series of articles for Buzzfeed about access to abortion in Australia. Her articles highlighted the challenges faced by Australian women seeking access to abortion and dispelled common myths about reproductive rights.

ABC and Northern Pictures
Employable Me

This documentary series from ABC and Northern Pictures followed nine people with disability as they searched for employment. The series brought to life not only the barriers they faced, but also the unique skills and talents that they can bring to the workplace and the important role and responsibility employers have in providing inclusive and supportive environments.


Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Community Individual Award

The Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Community Individual Award is awarded to an individual with a proven track record in promoting and advancing human rights in the Austarlian community.

Composite of photos of the Community Individual Award Finalists


Catia Malaquias
Outside of her day-job as a lawyer, and as a parent of a child with disability, Catia is a committed advocate for people with disability and has an impressive record in promoting their human rights in Australia and internationally. In 2016 she co-founded All Means All - The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education (AMA), developing strategies to help people with disability access education.


Alex Greenwich
Alex has spent over a decade campaigning for marriage equality and equal rights for LGBTI+ Australians.  He was one of the key voices in the YES campaign, most notably in public roles as a National Convenor, board member and Co-Chair of the Australian Marriage Equality organisation. Alex has made a significant contribution to an historic outcome for Australia’s LGBTI+ community.

Annabelle Daniel
With more than 20 years’ experience in advancing human rights for women and children, Annabelle has played a pivotal role in establishing shelters for women and children escaping violence and homelessness. She is the CEO of Women’s Community Shelters which already has six shelters in NSW and another two expected to be up-and-running before the year’s end.

Ramdas Sankaran OAM
For more than 35 years, Ramdas has been devoted to removing discrimination in areas including race, asylum seekers and refugees, gender, the LGBTI+ community and Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders.  Ramdas leads the  Multicultural Services Centre of WA (ECCWA), as well as the Ethnic Communities  Council of WA and is recognised for his role in protecting the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth).

Natalie Lewis
Natalie is a Gamilaraay yinar (woman) who consistently demonstrates leadership and commitment to advancing the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, particularly in the areas of youth justice and child protection. She holds a range of leadership roles in the protection of women and children, including CEO of the QLD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Child Protection Peak.


Community Organisation Award

The Community Organisation Award is awarded to a non-government / community-based organisation with a proven track record in promoting and advancing human rights in the Australian community.

The Community Organisation Award is proudly sponsored by the New South Wales Bar Association.

2018 Community Org Award finalists


Australian Marriage Equality
Australian Marriage Equality has been championing the rights of LGBTI+ Australians since its genesis in 2004. More recently, AME was successful in building a movement that saw support for reform grow, empowered everyday Australian’s to engage in parliamentary processes, mobilised people all across the country to vote Yes and brought diverse organisations together to shape an Australia that is a fairer place for everyone.


Colony 47 Housing Connect
Colony 47 is a Tasmanian not-for-profit organisation that has been at the forefront of identifying and addressing the complex needs of socially isolated and vulnerable Tasmanians since 1973. The service helps people apply for public housing, access support for private rentals, find a bed for the night or provides them with assistance following experiences such as family violence.

This organisation is devoted to providing accessible and age-appropriate living spaces, grants for equipment and home modifications and support through a national phone line.  One of Youngcare’s priorities is helping young Australians living in inappropriate accommodation, such as aged care facilities or hospitals, to move into more suitable accommodation.

Care Leavers Austrasian Network (CLAN)
CLAN is the national, independent, peak membership body that supports, represents and advocates for Care Leavers - those who were in care as children and young people - and their families. CLAN was founded by two Care Leavers in 2000 in a back room of a suburban house. CLAN was integral to the establishment of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. CLAN now has volunteers who play a vital role in supporting Care Leavers across Australia.

Seniors Rights Service
Seniors Rights Service provides legal advice to older people on issues including elder abuse, as well as specialised retirement village legal representation. The Service supports all Australians receiving Commonwealth funded aged care and carries out rights-based education tailored to the needs of older people and those who are most vulnerable.


Government Award

The Government Award recognises a local, state, territory or federal government body that has contributed to the advancement and protection of human rights in the Australian community.

The Government Award is proudly sponsored by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Composite of Government Award finalist photos and logos


Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation
The Commonwealth Games Corporation introduced a human rights policy for the Games held on the Gold Coast this year. The 2018 Games were the first major sporting event in Australia to include a Reconciliation Action Plan. Also making history this year, the Games were the largest integrated para-athlete program in the history of the Commonwealth Games.


City of Ballarat
Ballarat introduced a Cultural Diversity Strategy in 2009 to help overcome racism and demonstrate the benefits of having a diverse community. The Strategy includes the development of education and employment pathways as well as a multicultural ambassador. Ballarat is a Refugee Welcome Zone and actively combats racism though valuing and celebrating diversity.

Charter Education Project
The Charter Education Project (CEP), led by the Department of Justice and Regulation and the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, aims to make human rights a part of the everyday business of the Victorian government. The program has delivered training to nearly 5,000 public sector workers. The CEP is recognised for its significant impact in increasing awareness of human rights in the public sector.

Professor Peter Shergold
Professor Shergold has made an outstanding positive impact on the lives of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in his role as the NSW Coordinator-General for Refugee Resettlement. Through the establishment of an employment support program in Western Sydney and the Illawarra, nearly 500 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants have found employment while another 1,400 are receiving vocation training.


Racism. It Stops With Me Award

The ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ Award recognises the contribution of an organisation to reducing and preventing racism in Australia. Organisations can include community groups or businesses and they can be recognised for a range of anti-racism work including education and prevention.

The Racism. It Stops With Me Award is proudly sponsored by the Delegation of the European Union to Australia.

Composite of Racism. It Stops With Me Award finalist photos and logos


Nyadol Nyuon

Nyadol Nyuon is a strong and effective advocate on behalf of the African-Australian community.  Nyadol has been prominent in media debates around race and on a range of human rights issues.  Most recently this has included responding to a wave of negative stereotyping and mis-representation of Melbourne’s South Sudanese community.


Mariam Veiszadeh

Mariam is an Afghan-born lawyer and equality campaigner who has spent the last decade defending the rights of those subjected to racism and bigotry. Her work has earnt her several awards and in 2014 Mariam established the Islamophobia Register that tracks anti-Muslim incidents in Australia. Mariam endured months of cyber-bullying for her work which attracted international attention and support, which lead the social media movement #IstandwithMariam.

Welcoming Cities

Welcoming Cities promotes and supports local councils and communities around the country to become more welcoming, tolerant and inclusive.  It developed an Australian Standard that provides indicators and criteria for member councils to meet to support their welcoming work.  The network currently includes 23 local councils and a growing number of community organisations, businesses and other government agencies.


E-Raced aims to erase racism, one story at a time. Since 2015, E-Raced has been providing school students in Queensland’s Darling Downs region with the opportunity to meet refugees and migrants and hear their life stories and experiences, in a bid to erase discrimination and reduce cultural stereotypes and improve harmony and acceptance.

ActNow Theatre and Reconciliation SA

Since 2014 ActNow Theatre and Reconciliation SA have been delivering an interactive theatre-based program to school students that helps them to develop strategies to tackle racism towards Indigenous Australians, migrants and refugees since 2014.  More than 1,800 students and 250 teachers from 172 schools have participated.  The program hopes to expand the program nationally.


Law Award

The Law Award is awarded to an individual or an organisation with a track record in promoting and advancing human rights in Australia through the practice of law.

2018 HRA Law Finalists


Professor Andrew Byrnes
Professor Andrew Byrnes is one of Australia’s leading human rights legal academics, and is currently Professor of Human Rights Law at UNSW. Andrew has had a distinguished career dedicated to advancing human rights in Australia and internationally, including campaigning for the abolition of the death penalty, as well as upholding the rights of older persons, people with disability and gender equality.


Tenancy WA
Tenancy WA is a not-for-profit community legal centre that provides support to disadvantaged residential tenants in Western Australia. In the past year, in collaboration with Women’s Law Centre and Street Law Centre, Tenancy WA launched the Safe as Houses program that aims to prevent homelessness for women and children affected by family and domestic violence.

LGBTI Unit of the Human Rights Law Centre
The LGBTI Unit (Anna Brown and Lee Carnie) works nation-wide to advance the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex Australians. The Unit challenged the divisive and unnecessary postal survey in the High Court, worked with federal parliamentarians to achieve the passage of marriage equality legislation without hostile amendments, and intervened in the Re Kelvin case to ensure access to hormone treatment for transgender teenagers.

Dr Hannah McGlade
Dr Hannah McGlade is a Noongar human rights lawyer with an outstanding reputation for her work with Aboriginal people, particularly women and children affected by violence and discrimination. Last year, Hannah was appointed a National Children’s Ambassador by the Secretariat for National Aboriginal Islander Children in Care. Hannah’s recent work has included advocating for Aboriginal family-led decision making.

National Justice Project
The National Justice Project is a not-for-profit legal service that provides access to justice in Indigenous and Pacific Islander communities, including people in immigration facilities. Over the past year, NJP has helped several children detained on Nauru be brought to Australia for medical care. NJP has also acted for families of Indigenous people who have died in custody.


Business Award

The Business Award recognises corporations with a proven track record in promoting and advancing human rights in the Australian community.


Konica Minolta Australia
Konica Minolta is recognised for its leadership on the issue of modern slavery. Through its Ethical Sourcing Roadmap and extensive advocacy and engagement, Konica Minolta prioritises contracts with ethical suppliers. The company has also implemented a domestic and family violence leave policy, a commitment to gender and diversity equality and continues to engage Indigenous suppliers.


Gilbert + Tobin
For over a decade, Gilbert + Tobin’s Indigenous Cadetship Program has been supporting Indigenous law students through university and beyond. The Program employs these young people on a part-time basis for the duration of their studies while providing culturally sensitive mentoring and practical training to help them get started in their legal careers.

Woolworths launched its Refugee Employment Program in 2017 as part of the Migration Council of Australia’s Friendly Nation Initiative. Woolworths’ developed the custom-built Program to offer intensive mentoring, training and competency testing to help refugees gain work. So far, Woolworths has hired about 60 refugees and intends to continue this program into the future.

Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI)
ACSI’s mission is to improve the environmental, social and governance performance of Australian listed companies. ACSI is making an important contribution by educating the business community about the importance of having a human rights lens. In the last year, the Council has been outspoken on modern slavery, ethical supply chain sourcing, gender discrimination and whistleblower protections.

Herbert Smith Freehills
In the last year alone, Herbert Smith Freehills dedicated more than 36,000 hours of pro bono legal support to vulnerable Australians. The firm has particular interest in the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, human rights in technology, homelessness, disability and LGBTI rights. Activities have focused on legal representation and advice, social support, education and systemic advocacy.