Human Rights Awards 2017


>>Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Hello. What a great atmosphere in the room. I could leave you alone all afternoon, and you’d be just fine. Welcome to the 2017 Human Rights Awards. My name is Jeremy Fernandez
and today, we’re here to celebrate the inspiring achievements of individuals and organizations
advancing human rights in their communities. For the third year
running, it is just amazing to have 500 of us gathered
here today to recognize the extraordinary people
making a difference in their communities. As you well know, it’s been
a historic week in Australia for human rights, with
the passage of legislation on marriage equality. (applause) A wonderful achievement for our country. We’ll have more about that a bit later. But before I go any further, I’d like to mention a few practicalities. I’d like to introduce
our Auslan interpreters, Natalie Kull, Kathy
Wright, and Neil Phipps, who’s here as well. (applause) Now, if I can invite you to please turn your mobile phones to silent, as well. Don’t switch them off altogether. We’d like you to use the
hashtag: HRA2017 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. It’s not just about
bragging that you’re here. It’s also to share some of those moments, some of your highlights,
some of your pictures of this afternoon’s event. We’d love to hear your comments. But please, for your own protection, keep your hands to yourself,
don’t drink and tweet at the same time, and unlike
certain heads of state, please refrain from
describing your colleagues as short and fat, or old lunatics. (laughing) Right, let’s begin. First up today, I’d like to
welcome Aunty Norma Ingram to the stage to perform
the Welcome to Country. Aunty Norma Ingram. (applause)>>Thank you. (clacking) Okay, are you all awake? Lovely, of course you are. (speaking aboriginal language) Greetings, in the local
aboriginal language. It is such a pleasure for me to be here. And they’ve invited me back, Jeremy, so they must like me. It’s always a pleasure, but
with great responsibility. So if we welcome you to country, the big responsibility is on me. By doing that. But I’m also going to say, I’ll shift that responsibility on
you, as Australians. So, what we do today with
the Welcome to Country is we welcome you to the traditional land where we are on now. And that opens up, and when
we play our clap-sticks, to let Mother Earth and our
spiritual ancestors know that we are here, it opens up a lot. It opens up Mother Earth. It opens up our culture. I’ve said hello to you in
the local Sydney language. I’m a Redfern girl at the moment. Been a Redfern girl for a little while. On Gadigal country, my adopted country. My actual mother’s mother’s
land is the other side of the Blue Mountains, a
little town called Cowra, so what I do, and I was born and raised on the aboriginal reserve there. While still being now in Gadigal country, it’s just a wonderful experience for me and it’s just, just
terrific for me, personally. But what we need to do now is we need to acknowledge Mother Earth,
and that’s what we do. So, in my language, and
the old people tell us, you really need to be able
to speak your language, to talk to Mother Earth. So I’m a Wiradjuri woman. Don’t know if there are
any other Wiradjuri people in the room, but welcome. So in my language it’s:
(speaking aboriginal language) So, I’m a Lachlan River
girl, Cowra Wiradjuri. But I just said to you
(speaking aboriginal language). And I know we’ve got
some Wiradjuri people, we’ve got some other people
from right across this country who are aboriginal, and I
want to also acknowledge the Torres Strait Islanders. And so some of you will see me do this, and I do it all the
time, because I love it. I’m going to get you to
look at somebody else, and particularly, if
there’s somebody that you haven’t met before or you haven’t seen, and just look at them and say: (speaking aboriginal language) I know Alastair knows this. (murmuring) Alastair knows it, don’t you Alastair? I was talking about you, Alastair. (laughing) So, (speaking aboriginal
language), is more than just hello. It’s “I see you”. We have a big win
yesterday, as was mentioned. And we know that people go through life and nobody says “hello” to them. And so if you can just,
in your daily life, at least once a day,
acknowledge somebody else, it makes your life good, but
it also makes their life good. It’s just amazing what a
little acknowledgement does. And so this is what we do. We acknowledge people,
we acknowledge country. And that’s what we do,
so a Welcome to Country is also to welcome you to the
culture and to the people. We are on the traditional
land of the Gadigal people. One of 29 small clan
groups of the Eora Nation. So, the Eora Nation, for
those particular who know the east side, is bounded
by the Hawkesbury River to the north, the Nepean
River just this side of those mountains, the Blue Mountains, and the Georges River,
so you could just imagine what life was like here for the Gadigal, who were here to welcome
in those tall ships from England when they came in. Took a long time for them to get here, but the Gadigal lived an idyllic life. They are saltwater people. Sunrise, the sunrises comes up this side and it sits over the western side and it’s lovely to see some
western Australian people here with us as well. And so their totem is the
(speaking aboriginal language). And all of that makes up who
we are, as aboriginal people. And when we do welcome,
we do that by our songs, our dances, our artwork,
our stories, our storylines, all to acknowledge Mother Earth. She looks after us, and if
we don’t look after her, we will suffer consequences for that. So as I said earlier, yes,
I’m a aboriginal elder from this local community,
so I have responsibilities. I have cultural responsibilities, but that responsibility is
also for you as Australians. Wherever you’ve come from,
across this great land, over 200 different language
groups right across, and all of our people,
and I want to acknowledge all of our aboriginal
people, wherever you’ve come from today, and the Torres
Strait Islander people, I want to acknowledge your elders. I want to acknowledge the work that you do in your communities. And you’re not always
standing there saying: hey, look what I’ve done. Give me. You know, that’s not what happens. It’s about: I’m in there because
I know I can do this work. And many of you are going
to be honored for that work that you do and I
congratulate you all for that. I do want to acknowledge
all of our elders, past and present, and that’s
the future generation as well. The young ones. We, as aboriginal people, and
Torres Strait Islander people, we have a responsibility
to pass on our culture. We have a responsibility
to nurture and teach the next generation, so
wherever you come from: welcome. Welcome to aboriginal land. Wherever you go back to
when you’re finished, may our spiritual ancestors walk with you. Good health to you all and to your family. And next year, next year’s theme for NADOC is about the aboriginal,
Torres Straight Islander women, across this ancient land. The most ancient land. And the theme is: Because of Her, We Can. And that is fantastic. The first time that women
have been acknowledged. And I say that also about Mother Earth. Because of her, we can. Welcome everybody and enjoy your lunch. Enjoy; bye! (applause)>>Beautiful, thank you. What a warm and generous welcome. Aunty Norma, thank you. Now, today is about celebrating
the work of outstanding finalists, but also more
generally about celebrating all the people in this room
who contribute to the rights and freedoms of every single Australian. It might be the lawyer doing
pro bono work for people with mental illness, or
the nun visiting those in detention week after week, or the advocate highlighting
cases of elder abuse. To all, each and every
one of you, thank you. In the 30 years of these
awards, the commission doesn’t believe it’s ever
had such an impressive field of contenders, for finalists, for the Human Rights Medal. There can only be one medal winner, but every one of our finalists is doing incredible work in human rights. This is true of all the
finalists across the different categories, as well, each
of whom is making a real contribution to their communities and to broader society, as well. Detailed information about
each of the finalists is available on your program. For those who miss out on a
trophy, please apply again next year, because your work is enduring it has been, as I said, a
significant year in human rights, with some setbacks but also some major achievements we should mark. Just yesterday, we
witnessed the Parliament formally legislate for marriage equality after an overwhelming
result in a public survey. So let’s take a moment to celebrate what has been a long, and hard
fought struggle for equality.>>Man’s Voice: What a day for love, for equality, for respect. Australia has done it.>>Man’s Voice: Yes responses: 7,817,000. (cheering) Representing 61.6 percent. (“Same Love” by Macklemore)>>Man’s Voice: The
Australian people have spoken. In their millions. And they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality. They’ve voted yes for fairness. They’ve voted yes for commitment. They’ve voted yes for love.>>Man’s Voice: By passing this bill, we are saying to those
vulnerable young people: there is nothing wrong with you. You are not unusual. You are not abnormal. You are just you. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. There is nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing to hide. You are a normal person, and
like every other normal person, you have a need to love. How you love is how God made you. Whom you love is for you to
decide, and others to respect.>>Man’s Voice: Ryan Patrick
Bolger, will you marry me? (applause)>>Man’s Voice: We should
let (unintelligible) note to record that that was a “yes”. A resounding yes. Congratulations.>>How wonderful. Congratulations, to all
those in the LGBTI community who fought long and hard, long and hard for marriage equality. It’s also been a significant year at the Australian Human Rights Commission. The organization has farewelled
Professor Gillian Triggs as President, and welcomed the new Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher. As well as being an eminent lawyer, what you may not know is that Rosalind is also a singer in a
choir, she plays the oboe and cor anglais, there will
be a quiz on that later. Just kidding. And she’s also an avid history buff. I’d like to welcome Ros to the stage to deliver this year’s keynote address. Ros Croucher. (applause)>>Thank you; what a
wonderful introduction. Thank you, Aunty Norma Ingram, for your wonderful welcome to country. The Australian Human Rights
Commission is honored once more to be on Gadigal
land, and I pay my respects to the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and acknowledge elders, past
and present, and future, and acknowledge the many indigenous guests that are sharing this
special day with us today. The attorney, I trust, is gonna join us. So I’m welcoming the attorney. He had some important
business in Canberra. He and the prime minister had an important royal assent to attain today. And it’s extraordinarily
prescient, I think, that while Human Rights Day
is the 10th of December, about which I’ll speak
shortly, we are holding our day on the day that
the Marriage Amendment Definitions and Religious
Freedoms Bill, 2017, passed into law. (applause) Distinguished guests,
commissioners, all seven of you, sprinkled throughout our vast audience, award finalists, family, welcome all. We are on Gadigal land, but
we’re also in the depths of the General Post Office of Sydney. The GPO is a crucial landmark
in Australia’s modern history. It’s not quite all roads lead to Rome, but all distances in New
South Wales are measured from the GPO. We’re in the heart of that
measurement point, today. The GPO opened in 1874. And Martin Place, which
is to the north of us, which if I have my directions
correct is that way, Martin Place filled
with joyous celebrations at key moments in that modern history. Particularly at the end of
the two major world wars. And it was also fitting
that in Martin Place, that each year on Remembrance Day, is also the time that we
remember those who served in those wars and other conflicts, into which our nation has been involved. The clock tower, which
stand proudly above us, we can’t see it, but the clock tower was one of the tallest structures during the Second World War, and
it had to be taken down, because after the midget submarines came into Sydney Harbor and
bombed the eastern suburbs and sank the HMAS Kuttabul, it was thought that this might be in
jeopardy of air attack. So they took the clock tower down. But then, in 1964, at the
Anzac Day dawn service, the bells rang again, chiming the hour, and each quarter, and it has done so pretty unceasingly since that time. Sounding on the hour,
the deep, sonorous A, which I have to say, as a oboist, is carved into one’s sonic memory. Human Rights Day is marked
on the 10th of December because it was on the
10th of December in 1948 that the General Assembly
of the United Nations adopted resolution 217A-3, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And so each year, on the 10th of December, we commemorate Human Rights Day. And next year, we will
mark the 70th anniversary of this defining document
for the modern age. The preamble of the declaration proclaimed that it would be a common
standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. To the end that every individual
and every organ of society shall strive by teaching and education, to promote respect for
these rights and freedoms. And by progressive measures, national and international,
to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance. These are lofty words, indeed. But to become meaningful,
they have to permeate everything that nations
do, and become essential reference points for
how their citizens act. Universal and effective
recognition is one thing. Universal and effective
observance is another. And here we all play our part. The Australian Human Rights Commission plays a central role in
that process of permeation. Both in the domestic context, but also the international arena. This past year has seen
the commission appear several times in the international context as the National Human Rights Institution. We sit between government
and the collective grouping of civil society in the UN structure. Neither government nor civil society, but each playing a vital
and different role. In the concluding observations
of each of the reviews, the UN Human Rights Committee
delivers a report card, of sorts, commending the
government on a range of achievements, but also
condemning it on others. And pointing to areas where
the committee considers that improvement is needed. And this is where the
Human Rights Commission can play a powerful
role as trusted advisor. The observations themselves
provide instructive guidance for the continuing dialog
between the commission and government, through its
ministers and departments, to address human rights
concerns and failings, identified in those processes. Good relationships and open
doors are absolutely crucial for us to be able to play that
role of advisor to its fullest. To be the devil’s
advocate, as I have said. Even at times to be the devil’s blowtorch, for which you need to have a respected, indeed, trusted seat at the table. Within the domestic context,
so much of the contribution and achievements of the commission are found in work that
continues, day after day, year after year, often
unnoticed and unobserved. And now, for over 30 years,
there is, for example, the huge, public contribution through the National Information Service
and the Investigation and Complaint Handling
functions of the commission, extraordinary numbers of people are helped through that service. Approximately 15,000 people a
year contact the commission. Individuals asking questions, and sometimes employers, wanting to know the right thing to do, and
not sure how to go about it. 2,000 of those translate into complaints. And nearly all of them are
resolved through a very strong conciliation program,
with a high success rate. Of those that are
conciliated, about 75 percent are conciliated successfully. The participance in the
evaluation that is conducted after each of those is very, very strong. The word that stands
out in so many of them is the professionalism with
which they were treated. Not only from those who are complainants, but also from those who are respondents. So, 1,700 people or so, each year, are assisted very constructively
through the process. And often with outcomes that
benefit the wider public. Just think of the station announcements that are now largely audible
on New South Wales trains. Thanks to the complaint of
one person, Graeme Innis. (applause) Who you probably guessed is here today. I note also the very large
educational outreach program, including the many resources
on rights and freedoms on the commission’s website. One simple example is of the
teaching resources and video prepared for the 800th
anniversary of the sealing of the Magna Carta of 1215. Aimed at high school students,
the video was accessed around 50,000 times last year. Here is an extract. (uptempo music)>>Narrator: It’s an
800 year old document, written on dried animal skin, in England, on the
other side of the world, in a language we no longer use, that most people couldn’t
read, even back then. So why is Magna Carta important
to us in Australia today? Because it was the starting point for some of our most important human rights. Things it’s easy to take for granted. For instance, before Magna Carta, life was pretty cruisey,
if you were a king. You could get away with
all kinds of things. Killing your own armies, invading other countries
whenever you fancied, and taxing people to pay for
wars without even asking. Now, there were laws in those days, but some rulers believed
they had absolute power, and simply ignored them. That changed in 1215, when a
group of land-owning barons finally had enough of
King John’s behavior. They decided the king
governed by their consent, not just because he was king. So they got together and
forced the king to agree to limit his powers by
signing Magna Carta. It was the beginning of
fairer rights for the people. The king also agreed he
couldn’t just add new taxes. Free men had to be represented
by a common council to be taxed, which started
the evolution of democracy.>>It’s cute. (applause) And it’s an extract, but
its message is simple and very powerful. The commission also
provides crucial assistance to the court, through acting
as an invited intervener. I highlight this because most recently, in the Family Court proceeding Re Kelvin, the full court handed
down a crucial judgment on the 30th of November. What is most heartening and
affirming of that decision was that the reasoning
adopted by the majority judges in the case strongly
reflected our submissions. A testimony to the experience and judgment of those involved. And as a result of that decision, court authorization is no longer required for hormonal treatment for
young transgender people. Where there is no dispute
between the parents, medical practitioners
and the young person, and where the treatment to be administered is in accordance with published
best practice guidelines. In guiding the court on this delicate– (applause) Thank you. In guiding the court on
this delicate navigation through precedent and
current best practice, I acknowledge publicly the
leadership of Graeme Edgerton, of the commission’s legal team. (applause) And also the absolutely fantastic
and pro bono contribution of Barrister Houda Younan,
and her reader, Joe Edwards. (applause) Other work of the commission
in the public arena is the expression of
our mandate of promoting human rights standards in
the review of legislation and submissions to
parliamentary inquiries, through engagement with the community, like the launch last Friday
of social justice commissioner June Oscar’s project on
indigenous women and girls, Wiyi Yani U Thangani: “Women’s Voices”. (applause) The Racism: It Stops With Me campaign, led by race discrimination commissioner, Dr. Tim Southpommasane. Age discrimination commissioner, the honorable Dr. Kay
Patterson’s leadership in implementing the Elder Abuse
and Willing to Work reports, disability discrimination commission Alastair McEwin’s upcoming
and vitally important project on violence against people with disability in institutional settings. (applause) And human rights commissioner Ed Santow’s timely work on human
rights and technology, to mark the 70th anniversary next year of the Declaration on Human Rights. (applause) We also promote human rights standards through conducting inquiries, like the Change The Course Report, commissioned by Australian universities and led by sex discrimination
commissioner Kate Jenkins. And national children’s
commissioner Megan Mitchell’s leadership on the development
of national principles for child-safe organizations. (applause) You can clap then. I’m very proud of their work. There is also the
extraordinary partnerships that we have with major
agencies like the Defense Force, and key government departments. DFAT, the Attorney General’s Department, and the Department of
Prime Minister and Cabinet, and other organizations
out in the community, like the AFL and Rugby League. (applause) In undertaking these various roles, I wish to pay tribute to
my fellow commissioners, all seven of you, and
because this is a mega event, it hasn’t happened
without an enormous amount of behind the scenes work. I mentioned this morning, in a morning tea with our finalists, Liz Tan and her team, I think the extraordinary
success of getting this event together must be attributed to Liz and the communications team. (applause) And of course, all of
our executive assistants. Some of the most important
people in any organization. And I want to recognize commission staff, many of whom have served
the commission faithfully through many a year, and sometimes
through a tempest or two. At times, the public may lose sight of, and some may even lose
faith in, what we do. But history will put this in perspective, and measure us truly against our mandate. To promote and protect human rights. To set the beacons of human rights, and to lead people and government there. And so, leading into the awards, one of the drafters of
the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of Franklin Roosevelt, President of the US from 1933 to 1945. Writing on the 10th
anniversary of the declaration, in 1958, Mrs. Roosevelt asked: where do human rights begin? They begin, she said, in
small places, close to home. So close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. In the world of the individual person, the neighborhood he lives in, the school or college he attends, the factory, farm, or
office where he works. Such are the places where
every man, woman and child seeks equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity, without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. (applause) I welcome the Attorney
General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Senator, the
Honorable George Brandis. And so this year, as we’ve said, marks the 30th anniversary of
our Human Rights Day Awards, since the commission established
the Human Rights Medal. Other prestigious awards
have been added over time, to celebrate the efforts of
those who work tirelessly, every day, to bring human rights home. Such places may not be seen on any maps. In Eleanor Roosevelt’s words. But today, we honor and recognize you, our finalists and award-winners, for your contributions in
giving meaning to human rights. We give you a place on
our human rights map. The catalyst for some of our
awards is born out of tragedy. The catalyst for others
is wrought in anger, translated into fierce
determination to affect change. Some wish to expose human rights abuses, so that redress may come. Others are seized with an
idea to change the world. The unifying theme is one of resilience, and of profound optimism. That, in our everyday spaces, the world of the individual person of which Eleanor Roosevelt spoke, we can make a difference. (applause) There is much to celebrate,
but there is much still to do. Today we honor the upstanding achievement of contributors to the mission embraced in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights, 69 years ago. To conclude, I love prize-givings. But a final word: as we sit here, beneath
a very splendid building, appropriately designed in
Italian Renaissance style, so fitting for a modern Australia, what we can’t see is that the bells, in addition to baring the monogram “VR”, for Victoria Regina, and the words: General Post Office, 1890. Are inscribed lines from Tennyson’s poem, In Memoriam, from 1849. Ring out the false, ring in the true, ring out the feud of rich and poor, ring in redress to all mankind, ring out false pride in place and blood, ring in the common love of good. This could, indeed, by an
anthem of Human Rights Day. Ring in the common love of good. Thank you. (applause)>>What an uplifting address,
Ros, thank you very much. So, that brings us to lunch. Now, over the lunch break,
we’re gonna be showing you some of the best photographs
from our human rights photographic competition
on the theme of: Home. The winner of the under-18 category was a picture taken by 16 year
old James Corben, of Sydney. He titled it: Homeless, Yet
Happier Than Most People. The over-18 category was won
by Robin Yong of Canberra for her photograph, titled:
Flowers of Ethiopia. The photograph was
taken in the Omo Valley, known as one of the cradles of humanity, where a major dam project has forced the relocation of 10’s
of thousands of people. Thanks also to the major sponsor, Olympus, and also to Memento Photo Books. We’ll break now for lunch, and we’ll be back with the
awards in just a few moments. Thank you. (applause) (uptempo music) Hello, everyone. Good afternoon. I’m sorry to break up the socializing. This clearly is one of the highlights of the afternoon, to get around the room and meet some of the amazing
people that are here. We’re going to get the awards
started in just a second, so I’d invite you to
take your seats, please. And we’ll get underway. I would like to welcome shortly a man who’s had a very busy week. He was just raced up from Canberra, having played a very important role in the marriage equality debate. (applause) Now I know many of you were very moved by the video that the commission compiled, highlighting the events
of the past 24 hours, the past week, so indulge us. We’re going to play that video again, so Senator Brandis can see it.>>Man’s Voice: What a day for love, for equality, for respect. Australia has done it!>>Man’s Voice: Yes responses: 7,827,000. (cheering) Representing 61.6 percent. (“Same Love” by Macklemore)>>Man’s Voice: The
Australian people have spoken. In their millions. And they have voted overwhelmingly yes for marriage equality. They voted yes for fairness. They voted yes for commitment. They voted yes for love.>>Man’s Voice: By passing this bill, we are saying to those
vulnerable young people: there is nothing wrong with you. You are not unusual. You are not abnormal. You are just you. There is nothing to be embarrassed about. There is nothing to be ashamed of. There is nothing to hide. You are a normal person, and
like every other normal person, you have a need to love. How you love is how God made you. Whom you love is for you to
decide, and others to respect. (cheering)>>Man’s Voice: Ryan Patrick
Bolger, will you marry me? (applause)>>Man’s Voice: Should let
(unintelligible) note to record that that was a “yes”. A resounding yes. Congratulations. (applause)>>What a wonderful show of
democracy and unity in politics. Please welcome to the
stage the Attorney General, Senator George Brandis. (applause)>>Well, thank you very
much indeed, Jeremy. And may I begin, as is
customary, by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the land, on which we gather, the Gadigal people, and pay my respects to their
elders, past and present. May I acknowledge the
President of the Australian Human Rights Commission,
Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher and the members, the commissioners of the
Australian Human Rights Commission, I think all of whom are here today. Might I acknowledge the
honorable Mark Dreyfus, QC, the shadow attorney
general, and the President of the Law Council of
Australia, Fiona McCleod, SC. Most particularly, I wanted to acknowledge the finalists for the awards
that will be presented shortly. And other distinguished
guests, of whom there are many, ladies and gentlemen. Well, what a day to be having this lunch. Because we have, in the, in
recent days in Australia, and of course most particularly yesterday, achieved breakthroughs in
human rights in Australia that many of us thought
we would never see. But we have done it; we have done it. (applause) I’m sorry to be late, but this morning the Prime Minister and I convened, ah, attended a special meeting of
the Federal Executive Council, convened by the Governor
General to proclaim the bill that passed the
House of Representatives shortly after six PM last night, and that bill is now the law of Australia. (applause) It takes effect at midnight tonight, and as of midnight tonight,
all foreign same-sex marriages that had hitherto not been recognized will be recognized under
Australian law, and– (applause) from midnight tonight,
notices of intention to marry under the Marriage Act may be given. Under the Marriage Act, that requires notice
of one calendar month. So the first Australian same-sex marriages will be able to take place
if notice is given tomorrow, on and from the ninth of January. (applause) So, this is something
that all of us who believe in human rights can be very proud of. I know the process by which we got there was controversial and
there are many people, including I daresay many in this room, who didn’t like it. But it was a process that enabled all of the Australian people to
lend their voice to this reform, and by that overwhelming endorsement, it made the occasion yesterday a stronger and more emphatic embrace of gay people than it otherwise would have been. It was a jubilant and wonderful day, in which every Australian
was a participant. (applause) Now, now I’m pleased to be able
to report to you that, although the news media has
naturally and rightly been full of the news of
the passage of the bill through the House of
Representatives, last evening, that is not the only
important landmark achievement in human rights which we
have marked at this time. But before I pass on to
reflect on those achievements, I just want to conjure
for you what it was like to be sitting, I was sitting on the floor of the House of Representatives,
in the Senator’s Gallery, looking up at the public galleries, which, there are a lot of people here today who were there in Canberra
yesterday afternoon. They were, of course, full. It wasn’t a spare seat in any of them. And when the passage of
the bill was announced, and Mark Dreyfus, who
was there on the floor, shared this with me,
the galleries erupted. I have never seen anything like it. They erupted in a spontaneous reaction of celebration and joy,
and relief and gladness. And then the gallery spontaneously burst into that great Australian song: I Am, You Are, We Are Australian. And the Speaker of the
House of Representatives, Tony Smith, very wisely didn’t
call the gallery to order, as technically he should have done. But he let it roll. He let it roll, he let
the singing continue, he let the cheering continue, he let the standing ovation roll on for minutes on end. When the history of
these years is written, in decades and indeed centuries to come, that extraordinary scene in
the House of Representatives yesterday evening will
always be remembered as a turning point in Australian history. Now, it’s the privilege of very few to be able to be there at
turning points in history. It’s the privilege of even
fewer to help them along. But I want to acknowledge the role of the Australian Human Rights Commission. The role of Rosalind Croucher, the role of Ed Santow, the role of the other
commissioners and the staff in always being an
ally, a strong, voluble, effective, credible, respected ally in the fight for marriage
equality in Australia. And we won. (applause) So thank you. I mentioned a moment ago
that this wasn’t the only very consequential human rights
achievement in recent days. Let me mention a couple of others. I know there are many people in this room who have been concerned with
the issue of gender dysphoria. Last Thursday, a
specially-convened full bench of five judges of the
Family Court of Australia in the Re Kelvin case, adopted
the Commonwealth Government’s submissions in relation to
the authorization of stage two treatment and that obstacle
has now been removed. And that is a very important– (applause) So let us not allow our
jubilation over marriage equality to distract our attention
from that as well. In coming days, meanwhile, Australia will deposit the
instrument of ratification of the Optional Protocol to
the Convention Against Torture. The ratification of OPCAT has been a core, a key objective of the Australian
Human Rights Commission for years. Under the leadership, in
particular, of Ed Santow, the Australian human rights commissioner, my colleague, Julie Bishop,
and I last year persuaded the cabinet that we
ought to take that step. Julie and I announced
it earlier in the year, and OPCAT will be ratified by Christmas. (applause) And as well, as you know,
Australia was recently, and for the first time,
elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council,
an election which will, a membership which will take
place from January 2018, next month, for a two year term. Australia, as a liberal democracy, will bring to the United
Nations Human Rights Council, a voice of credibility and authority. Now, ladies and gentlemen, as our friends over here demonstrate, in a free society, there will always be
controversies about issues. Particularly difficult issues
concerning human rights. But I think today, particularly, and in view, especially, of
the events that have happened in Canberra yesterday and the other events of which I’ve spoken, we
ought to reflect for a moment, on what we have achieved;
how far we have come. How much human rights in
Australia have advanced in the last 12 months, and
we also ought to reflect, we also ought to reflect on the fact that these decisions, in
particular, the nation-changing decision that was taken
yesterday by the Parliament, will permanently make the
lives of Australians better, for this generation and
every generation to come. Talk is cheap. Political outcomes are
difficult to achieve, but for my money, outcomes
are more important than words. The Australian Human
Rights Commission has been, particular now, under the
leadership of Rosalind Croucher, working in partnership
with the government, to achieve those outcomes. We have seen those outcomes in the events, the achievements I’ve described. We will continue to work next year and in all the years to follow, to achieve more outcomes for human rights. But today, let us take
comfort, let us be glad, let us be proud of what Australians
have achieved this year. Thank you. (applause)>>Senator Brandis, thank you. We’ll now move to presenting
the first of our awards. The Racism: It Stops With Me Award, sponsored by the Delegation
of the European Union to Australia and New Zealand, and representing the EU on the
stage is Dr. Michael Pulch. And also joining me to present the award is the race discrimination commissioner, Dr. Tim Soutphommasane. (applause)>>Well, thanks very much, Jeremy. It’s been noted already, but
it’s a great day to be marking Human Rights Day, and
to all here who champion and advocate for human rights,
thank you for your work. It’s my pleasure to present the Racism: It Stops With Me Award. This is an award recognizing
work in the field of anti-racism and reflects
the work that we do, at the commission, too. Since 2012, we’ve had
an anti-racism campaign, and it’s been a busy period
for Racism: It Stops With Me. We’ve gone from strength to strength, with more than 360
supporters of our campaign, and during the past few months, we’ve released four videos on anti-racism, which have had close to 1.5 million views on social media and the internet. So, we like to think
the word is getting out, that you can stand up to
racism whenever you see it. A special thank you to the
EU and to Ambassador Pulch for supporting this
award, and thanks as well to the many supporters of the
campaign who are here today, and for those of you who
aren’t yet supporters of the campaign, we’d of course be
delighted to have you onboard. But now to the real business. And the finalists for Racism:
It Stops With Me Award are: Clinton Pryor, who walked
many thousands of kilometers across the country, (applause) to bring attention to the
closure of remote aboriginal communities in western Australia. Sean Gordon, an advocate
for the empowerment of aboriginal communities
on the New South Wales central coast, and indeed
throughout Australia. The Cohealth Arts Generator
Sisters and Brothers Program. (applause) Which tackle racism in Victoria, using a school leadership
program and different art forms. Reconciliation South
Australia and ActNow Theater. (applause) Who have delivered
interactive theater programs for school students on anti-racism, and last but not least:
Multicultural Communities Council of Illawarra and Why
Documentaries for a series of documentaries about friendships between people of different backgrounds, living in the Illawarra region. And, nothing like a bit of suspense. And the Racism: It Stops
With Me Award goes to, CoHealth Arts Generator
Sisters and Brothers Program. (applause) (uptempo pop music) (murmuring)>>I just want to, first of all, thank the fellow nominees,
especially Clinton Pryor. I’d like to thank CoHealth Arts Generator, Liz Kelb, Aram Hossei, who’s here with us. We flew from Melbourne this morning. And the participants of the
Sisters and Brothers Program. I’m truly humbled by this experience, and I thank the Human Rights Commission for inviting me and
CoHealth Arts Generator and joining a prestigious
cohort of members, not only within the category,
but across the various spectrum of human rights
programs and initiatives. Thank you. (applause)>>I’d just like to thank
all the learning communities that we collaborate with,
that we’ve collaborated with over the last five years. Children are ready to change. And they’re doing it. They embrace what we’re doing, and they’re gonna change Australia. (applause)>>Congratulations. Now, the next award is the Media Award, to be presented by the sex
discrimination commissioner, Kate Jenkins. Kate. (applause)>>Thank you. And thanks everyone here today. I know every single person
here has a commitment to and does work every day
to help with human rights. I will admit, I changed my entire outfit, so I could wear my rainbow beads today. It just felt right. And for this award, the finalist are: The Queen and Zak Grieve, by
The Australian and In-Films. This investigation focused on the case of a young aboriginal
man who was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison for a murder he did not physically commit. Bina-gurri, produced
by ABC Radio National. Bina-gurri follows the
story of Jody Barney, who specializes in interpreting
aboriginal sign languages, and has worked extensively with deaf aboriginal people in prison. The Messenger and They
Cannot Take the Sky, by Behind the Wire. This work shares the
compelling personal stories of people who’ve been held
in immigration detention or are subject to third-country processing in Nauru and Manus islands. Exploitation of Students,
by SBS’s Vietnamese Program. The program revealed serious exploitation of Vietnamese students by
businesses in Melbourne, including cases of employees
being underpaid and abused by their employers. And finally: Abuse at Oakden,
by ABC TV and Radio News. This investigation exposed allegations of abuse and mistreatment of people with complex mental health
issues, residing at the Oakden Older Persons Mental
Health Service in Adelaide. (applause) And the winner is, and if you’re wondering, I
don’t know who the winner is. It’s not a setup. And the envelopes are hard to open. (laughing) The winner of the 2017 Media Award is: The Messenger and They
Cannot Take the Skies. By Behind the Wire. (uptempo pop music) (applause)>>I had the great privilege to be part of You Cannot Take the Sky and The Messenger, being interviewed on that book. I think this book contains our stories. Stories that we chose to tell, and I would like to
acknowledge that we all tell our stories the way we want, and thank you so much
for the human rights, to recognize the rights of
(muttering) people, and I think an adjusted investigative
journalist is upcoming. Thank you for having us. (applause)>>I’ll just say, thank
you Honey, for saying that. So, Behind the Wire was founded in 2014, after we observed that even though we hear about the policy of mandatory
detention nearly every day in the media, we often don’t hear directly from the people most
impacted by that policy. And so we started an oral history project to try and increase the
platform for those experiences. And from that came the book,
They Cannot Take the Sky, and also The Messenger, which was produced by Behind the Wire, in partnership
with the Wheeler Center. And Michael Greene and Aziz,
who is on Manus at the moment, made the podcast from exchanging WhatsApp messages to each other. And Michael Greene, who has
just got back from Manus has asked me to tell you all: please download the
podcast, The Messenger. It’s great, and thank you all
so much for this recognition. (applause)>>Congratulations. Now, next is the Tony Fitzgerald
Memorial Community Award. It’ll be presented by the
disability discrimination commissioner Alastair McEwin. (applause)>>Hello everyone. Wow, what an amazing 24 hours it’s been. A real rollercoaster of emotion for myself and for my LGBTI
friends and colleagues. And I must take this
opportunity to say thank you to the Australian
government for recognizing that my love for my
wonderful partner, Michael, is equal to everyone else. To the Attorney, George Brandis, I acknowledge your leadership and your commitment to the process, and I thank you and your
parliamentarian colleagues. And I wish to acknowledge the leadership of the shadow attorney; thank you. A heartfelt thank you. And I often wonder if
you will really ever know the impact that you’ve had. I’m onto my third box of tissues. (laughing) And you know, it’s been my dream to be able to say those four words. The question that you all dream of. And so, my partner Michael is
currently in Washington DC. However, due to the wonders of technology, I have Facetime’d him into, ah, and hello, Michael. Say hello to your 500 new best friends. (applause) I have a question for you. (sighing) Will you marry me? (cheering and applause) What’s he saying? (applause) He said yes! (cheering) Thank you. Thank you. (applause) (sighing) As you were. (laughing) It’s my wonderful privilege
to announce the finalists of the Tony Fitzgerald
Community Individual Award. And we have an amazing array of finalists. The first up is Saba Vasefi,
who uses her artistic and cultural activity to campaign
against the death penalty, advance the rights of women and children, as well as give a voice to refugees. Excuse me. (applause) Next up is Barbara Spriggs. Barbara brought about the
exposure of a decade-long cover up of the abuse and
maltreatment of residents in the Oakden Facility in Adelaide. (applause) Next up is Catia Malaquias,
who is a disability advocate and founder of Starting With Julius, an organization that aims
to include people with disabilities in advertising and the media. (applause) Alastair Lawrie. Alastair is a passionate
campaigner for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender,
and intersex community. (applause) And last, but definitely not least, Sister Jane Keogh, who has
devoted more than 15 years to supporting refugees in
immigration detention centers, and those living in the
Australian community. (applause) And the winner is. And Kate is quite right, these envelopes are very
challenging, I must say. So, but like Tim, a little bit
of suspense won’t go astray. And the winner is, of the
Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Community Individual Award is: Barbara Spriggs. (applause) (uptempo pop music) (applause)>>I’m gonna have to read a few words. But I didn’t think I was
gonna have to do this. (sighing) Well, I would first like to congratulate the amazing four other nominees. Each of you have achieved
so much in your field, working for the human rights of others. For me, I’m honored to receive this award. I have been driven to fight for answers and change into elder abuse, after seeing what my husband endured while
in a government facility. I’m proud of the
achievements that have come from my persistence in
uncovering a decade of abuse in that facility. Not only was a review ordered
into the facility, but also an independent Commission
Against Corruption inquiry. There are now unannounced
audits of facilities for the elderly. The old facility was decommissioned. A refurbished facility opened. Working committees and groups
are planning better care and facilities for our
seniors in the future. All this has happened
in the last 11 months. This award is a recognition of the need to respect the human rights
of our vulnerable seniors. We must ensure that they are treated with the dignity, respect,
and compassion they deserve. Thank you all so much for this. (applause)>>Now, the second community
award is for an organization, rather than an individual,
and I’d like to welcome, on that note, the age
discrimination commissioner, Kay Patterson, to the stage. Kay? (applause)>>Thank you very much, Jeremy. I just wanna start by saying that I had the privilege
of sharing the information you just heard from Al, and he said: I think you can keep a secret. So I knew, and I’ve known
Michael since he was a student. So I wanna be bridesmaid, or
maid of honor or something. (laughing) Or I’ll give them away. But it was a very special
privilege to be the only person in this room who knew that
that was going to happen. So congratulations to Michael
and congratulations to Al. (applause) And I just have to say to
Barbara: congratulations. As the age discrimination commissioner, to see what she achieve in making a stand was absolutely fantastic,
and I’m delighted to be able to say to her: well done. And it’s changed the
lives of so many people. Thank you. (applause) The finalists, ah, I’m about
to cry over both issues, so I think we need Kleenex
tissues up here, in the future. The finalists for the Community
Organization Awards are: End Rape on Campus Australia, which works to end sexual
violence in universities and residential colleges
through direct support with survivors and their communities. (applause) Big hArt; Big hArt is an arts organization which works closely with communities to address a range of human rights issues, including the empowerment
of indigenous young people and young rural women. (applause) Twenty10 incorporating
GLCS New South Wales, which provides frontline
support for LGBTIQA people across New South Wales, including housing, counseling and social support. (applause) Now, the next one’s got a
bit of a regional problem, and as a Victorian, I’ll
use the Victorian lingo. Rural Australians for
Refugees, Castlemaine branch. This is a not for profit organization set up to raise awareness. Volunteers are involved
in providing practical and financial support for
local refugee families. (applause) Blind Citizens Australia, which was set up in 1975
as a peak advocacy body, and has played a key role in
bringing about significant changes for Australians who
are blind or vision impaired. (applause) We need new envelopes next year. (laughing) Now, this is gonna be the
setup, because I’m sitting on the table with the winner. The winner is: Blind Citizens Australia. (applause) (uptempo pop music) (applause)>>Well, hello. It’s a bit of a surprise
for me to be up here today. More for me than for you, I think. But, ah, Emma Bannison, the
CEO of Blind Citizens Australia was coming today, and her
plane broke on the tarmac. Always a better place
than in the air, I think. So, and Kathy Kelly, who’s
here with me from BCA, said to me earlier in the function: oh, I hope we don’t win. I don’t wanna make a speech. (laughing) And I said: don’t say that, Kathy! I’ll make the speech. So here I am. (laughing) Can I just, in an aside,
say to my good friend, Al McEwin, and your partner Michael, a huge congratulations. It is a wonderful thing
that you and many others who are in my life,
particularly two who are very close to me, that your love
is now equal in this country. (applause) But I just wanna say, on behalf
of Blind Citizens Australia, and I’ve been a member
since 1975, when we started, what a huge role they play for people who are blind and vision impaired, as peer advocates, as
advocates and peer support. And you know, in any other,
in any disempowered group, peer support and being
able to turn to your mate who shares the issue which
causes your disempowerment is critical to changing that situation. And Blind Citizens Australia have played a major part in that
process for many years. And as the New South Wales
president of the organization I’m very proud to receive
this award on behalf of BCA. (applause)>>Congratulations. Now, on an international level, the world, as we all know, is struggling
with the mass movements of people like we’ve never seen before. That includes the hundreds
of thousands of Rohingya, living in desperate
conditions in Bangladesh, and also the millions of
people who’ve fled to Europe to escape war and persecution. We’re also seeing a surge
in racism around the world, and it’s a development
that the European Union is particularly concerned about. So to join me back onstage
again is Dr. Michael Pulch, the Ambassador of the
European Union to Australia. Please welcome him. (applause)>>Commissioner Rosalind Croucher, Attorney General George Brandis, ladies and gentlemen, what an amazing and moving ceremony today. (applause) It surely is. Now, the EU delegation
to Singapore is delighted to sponsor the Racism:
It Stops With Me Award, for the third year in a row. And we do this in cooperation with the Australian Commission on Human Rights. My warmest congratulations
to the five finalists of this year’s award. They have done an amazing contribution, an outstanding
contribution, and of course, my very warm congratulations
to the winner of today. A word on racism. Nobody, no government, no organization, no person, should underestimate
the existential danger that racism and xenophobia
presents to basic human rights and our societies. And no one should think they
are immune from this danger. This is why I’m proud that I represent an organization, the European Union, itself a Nobel Prize winner,
that has consistently taken a resolute stance against racism. For example, in its campaign
against anti-Muslim hatred. And there’s also I am humbled and proud to have that opportunity to participate in today’s ceremony. Today, we recognize the
contribution of many worthy people and their organizations here. A word on broader human
rights cooperation. The European Union has
allocated more than two billion Australian dollars,
over a six-year period, to a European instrument for
democracy and human rights, to tackle many of the
human rights challenges around the world, and we’ve heard of many of them already today. This is on top of the development
assistance that we provide and also have a human rights dimension. We already work with Australia
on human rights issues around the world, and therefore
it gives me great pleasure to congratulate Australia
to winning a seat on the Human Rights
Council for the first time. Congratulations. (applause) We want to do more, and
we want to do it together. Because I believe that
we can do more things if we work together, and
this is my message for today. Thank you very much. (applause)>>Thank you, Dr. Pulch. Now, it’s not often that
Australians win a Nobel Prize, but in October, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons,
or ICAN, as it’s known, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Id like to welcome to the
stage Gem Romuld, from ICAN. (applause)>>Thank you so much for
his special recognition. What an incredible day, an
incredible room of people. I have with me two of our
board members in Australia, Sue Wearem and Darryl Lacorning,
my team up on the stage. (applause) It’s been a truly incredible year for us, despite the fact that we are
living in dangerous times. Nuclear war, the threat of nuclear war, is still making the headlines weekly, and nuclear brinkmanship
has almost become normal. In the midst of this and
perhaps spurred on by this, after just five weeks of
negotiations at the United Nations, 122 countries voted to adopt the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. (applause) That was just a few months ago, and this is the first
treaty to comprehensively outlaw nuclear weapons, and to establish a pathway for their total elimination. (applause) It sets a new standard against which all nations will be judged, equally. For this work, we were awarded
the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Which is a huge honor, obviously. (applause) And an indication to
us and the governments of the world that we
are on the right track. So, the International Campaign
to Abolish Nuclear Weapons was founded in Melbourne just 10 years ago by a small group of dedicated individuals. Progress on nuclear
disarmament had stalled, and a new approach was desperately needed. So they traveled the world
and built a global campaign coalition that now consists of around 500 partner organizations
in 100 countries. We’ve been marching on the
streets, lobbying at the UN, and we’ve helped shift the
debate onto what really matters, and that’s the humanitarian
impacts, the devastating impacts of these weapons of mass destruction. (applause) The survivors of the bombings in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, their
stories, the Hibakusha, they’ve been central to the campaign, as has the stories of
those who have survived nuclear testing around the world, including in Australia. Examining the evidence in brutal detail catalyzed a critical mass of countries to push the agenda forward
for new international law to address the nuclear threat. At long last, nuclear weapons, along with chemical weapons, biological weapons, land mines, and cluster munitions, are
now subject to a ban treaty. There has been much skepticism
along the way, of course. But we know the effect
that a ban can have. It erodes the political
status of the weapon. It makes it harder for
manufacturers to access finance and resources, and it provides
a tool for civil society to pressure and persuade. The nuclear weapon states
have fought against this, every step of the way. They’ve tried to thwart
it, but they’ve found themselves to be
powerless against the will of the global, non-nuclear majority. Now, we have a treaty
banning nuclear weapons. A legal pathway to reach zero, and every nation is faced with a choice. Is it for or against nuclear weapons? Unfortunately, Australia
has not yet signed on. There is much work to be done, and many challenges lie ahead, but change is inevitable. It’s up to all of us to
make sure that Australia signs and ratifies this document. The treaty is not a feel-good gesture. It’s the tool we need to drive change. We are creating a world in which the threats of mass destruction are no longer allowed to prevail. I’ll finish with the words
of the Hiroshima survivor, Setsuko Thurlow, who has been
a big part of the campaign. She’ll be co-accepting the award, the Nobel Peace Prize,
this Sunday in Oslo. And she said this on the day
the ban treaty was adopted: to the leaders of
countries across the world, I beseech you, if you love this planet, you will sign this treaty. Nuclear weapons have always been immoral, and now they are also illegal. Thank you. (applause)>>Thank you, Gem. Now we go to the Business Award next, which is being presented by the
social justice commissioner, June Oscar. (applause)>>Well, someone was
supposed to come and get me. Anyway, (speaking aboriginal language). Are we feeling good? We’re here on the lands
of the Gadigal people. And I say: good day to you all. Attorney General, shadow attorney general, it’s wonderful to have
you here, as always. Always happy to know that
we have your support. Thank you to Aunty Norma
for your warm welcome. To us all, to the lands
of the Gadigal people. And like you, I too seek healing. I too seek truth-telling. And I too seek a voice for our brothers and sisters in this country. (applause) I’m absolutely honored to be taking part in today’s celebrations,
and I’d like to congratulate and acknowledge every single one of you for the incredible work you
do, right across this country. (applause) And now, I, ah, will go through the list of finalists. And they are Allianz. Through a partnership with Settlement Services International, Allianz established an
innovative employment program, creating opportunities and support for refugees and migrants. (applause) The Copy Collective. (cheering) The Copy Collective is committed
to workplace flexibility, and dedicated to employing
people with disabilities, people who are gender diverse, and people who live in regional Australia. (applause) LexisNexis, which provides resources to more than 180 community legal centers, supporting access to justice
for more than 200,000 people from disadvantaged backgrounds. (applause) Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth
Games Corporation, or GOLDOC. GOLDOC is recognized for
its commitment to plan and deliver the next Commonwealth Games in line with the United
Nations guiding principles on business and human rights. (applause) And finally, Kulbardi,
which is an aboriginal-owned office and stationary supplies company, committed to giving back to the community, and inspiring aboriginal entrepreneurship. (applause) And the Business Award winner is, oh, these envelopes are hard to open. (laughing) Okay. The winner is: Allianz. (uptempo pop music)>>Wow, June Oscar. What a person to receive this award from. So, we talk about Eleanor Roosevelt, and: where does human rights start? At Allianz it starts with real people. These are not participants in a program. These are our colleagues. They are now our friends. Sayed, Hussan, Saura,
we know their stories, and we have shared them with them. Real people, refugees
who have come to work at Allianz in real jobs, permanent roles. Not internships. Not temporary jobs; real roles. Not entry-level positions. Giving them roles with their credentials that they had in their home country. That they fought so hard
to come and be a part of our country, and now a part of Allianz. When we take this award away, do you know, Allianz,
we’re an insurance company, but what excited us at Allianz
is we are part of a solution. A solution with our work
colleagues and friends. This award is not for
Allianz, and it is not even for the participants in the program. It’s for 4,500 employees
across the country who feel like because of this program, with Settlement Strategists
Australia, our key partner in this program, we’ve done
something that matters. Thank you for that. (applause) (muttering)>>Now, we’re down to
the final three awards. And for that, I’d like to
invite the commission president, Rosalind Croucher, back onto the stage. And we are going to
present the Law Award now, to be presented by the
human rights commissioner, Ed Santow. (applause)>>Thank you, Jeremy. If we had been celebrating
the Human Rights Awards yesterday, then Alastair
McEwin, my good friend and colleague, would not have been able to ask his partner, Michael, to marry him. In the intervening time,
last night, love won. And that is something
that we should be really, really proud of. Now, we know that success
has a lot of parents. And the combination was
clearly in our Parliament. I want to pay tribute
to the Attorney General, George Brandis, for the
leadership that he has shown on this issue, and on other issues, human rights issues, affecting
the LGBTQI community. I also wanna pay tribute to
the shadow attorney general, as well, Mark Dreyfus, for the leadership that those on his side
have shown, as well. But there are also many leaders, especially in civil society, many of whom are represented here, who were crucial players in achieving this human rights victory that we have. (applause) Turning to the finalists of the Law Award, I’m a lawyer, but before I was
a lawyer, I was a human, too. (laughing) And what all of these finalists show is that you can retain your
humanity and be a lawyer. Indeed if you retain your humanity, if you show the best of being humane, you can be a truly great lawyer. So the finalists are: Canberra Community Law’s
Socio-Legal Practice Clinic. An innovative program that
helps disadvantaged people facing a crisis or
emergency by integrating the professional skills of
a lawyer and social worker. (applause) The next is Helen Pearce. Helen is the CEO and principle solicitor of the Humanitarian Group, a
not for profit organization focused on empowering
vulnerable people by providing professional and accessible
migration assistance. (applause) The Refugee Advice and Casework Service. (applause) An independent and much-loved
community legal center, based in New South Wales,
that provides free, specialist legal assistance to people seeking asylum in Australia. (applause) The next finalist is David Woodroffe, who has made a significant contribution to the promotion and
protection of human rights for aboriginal people in the top
end of the Northern Territory. (applause) And finally, Vincent Shin,
and the Western Community Legal Center, Wyndham Branch. Vincent is Australia’s
first in-school lawyer to help children from low
socio-economic backgrounds and their families with legal
advice and representation. (applause) And the winner is: David Woodroffe. (uptempo pop music) (applause)>>I’m absolutely stunned. Thank you very much. And thank you very much to the commission. It’s an incredible honor today. I do sort of see it more as a reflection of the great work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services. And also Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander Family Violence Legal Services do, and the work that we do. (applause) It’s been a monumental past 18 months. We’ve seen the images on
the TV that have shocked the nation about the plight
of aboriginal children, and children in the
Northern Territory detention and child protection, but
what’s stemmed from that, and the greatest privilege
of my legal career, has been to work with aboriginal children, their mothers, their grandmothers, and their communities to come forward and tell their stories
to the Rural Commission. (applause) And it’s through their
wisdom and their hurt, that their knowledge, but
also for their wanting for a better future,
that we really have now, in the Northern Territory,
a great opportunity of promise for the future. That aboriginal children
and families will have a place where they’re nurtured,
with their family secure, in this, in their culture
and their language. And I’d like to very much just to say, what a day, what a wonderful day. And thank you all. (applause)>>Congratulations, David. It’s now time to present
the Young People’s Human Rights Medal, which
each year is awarded to a young person under the age of 26 for outstanding work in human rights. I’d like to introduce the
children’s commissioner, Megan Mitchell, who’ll present
the Young People’s Medal. (applause)>>Hello everyone. And can I also thank the government, the attorney, shadow
attorney, and of course, the Parliament, and the Australian people for getting marriage
equality over the line, and I’m sure that this will make the, ah, growing up in Australia
safer and more inclusive for a whole generation of kids. (applause) Can I also thank,
congratulate, my colleague Al? And Michael. And it’s been a bit of an
emotional journey for me, too. As many of you in the
room, and having been in the same relationship
with my partner, Carolyn, for 32 years, I think I’d have
to be thinking about this. (applause) But now, for why we’re really here. And I want to introduce
you to the fabulous young finalists for the
Young People’s Medal. You never fail to amaze
me with your drive, your energy, and your
commitment to social change and to justice. So, the first finalist is Bassam Maaliki. (applause) Inspired by his own experience
as a Muslim teenager, Bassam established the
Hashtag: uBelong Project. Aimed at fostering a
culture of inclusiveness and multicultural harmony. And Bassam is 14. (applause) To Georgie Stone, a
transgender advocate who, at the age of 10, was the youngest person to receive hormone blockers in Australia. She has campaigned
tirelessly for the rights of transgender children. And can I at this point,
too, shout out to all of those advocates, young and old, who have made the law change in this area so that young people and their families, with the help of the medical profession, can make decisions about their own lives. (applause) Ziagul Sultani. Ziagul is a vocal advocate for
multicultural young people, promoting the rights of
refugees and young migrants in regional and remote western Australia to access education and work. (applause) To Caitlin Figueiredo,
who is a young Australian working nationally to
tackle discrimination and drive inclusive opportunities
for young women and girls. (applause) And finally, to Celia Tran. Celia is committed, ah, I
should get going on this envelope, because it
might take some while. Celia is committed to
supporting young people from refugee and migrant backgrounds to expand their leadership
and their advocacy skills. (applause) And the winner of the Young
People’s Human Rights Medal for 2017 is Georgie Stone. (uptempo pop music) (applause)>>Hi, everyone. Firstly, I would like to thank
the Human Rights Commission for putting on this
incredible award tonight. It is fantastic just to meet everyone, and to see the incredible
work everyone is doing. It is an honor to be
receiving this award today. I would like to acknowledge
Rosalind Croucher. And I’d also like to
acknowledge the honorable George Brandis, and the
honorable Mark Dreyfus, established guests, other commissioners, and fellow finalists
and community members. Thank you to the sponsors
of the Human Rights Awards. And quickly, I’d like to thank
the Royal Children’s Hospital Gender Service for the work that they do, in supporting trans kids. (applause) And also for the work they
did in the area of law reform. They made all the difference. And I’d also like to
thank everyone who has advocated, ah, uh-oh. Advocated for trans kids, their families, the kids themselves;
speaking out is a really hard thing to do and it’s really fantastic to see so many people doing it. People have been fighting
for law reform for years, and as you all know, last
Thursday, that law changed. So that was really fantastic. Despite this incredible win, there is so much more work
that is needed to be done. I, a few months ago, I
was talking to a group of trans kids between
the ages of eight and 12, and I was shocked to learn that
every single one of them was at that time being bullied at school, and even their siblings. And so it made me realize that although there is so much we have achieved, there is still this
social stigma in Australia against trans kids that needs to change. Especially in light of the
marriage equality debate. The No Campaign used trans
kids as cannon fodder. And it was really, really hard to see. And not just for me, and
I’m very much supported by my family and people around me, but trans kids who are
isolated in rural areas, people who have been
kicked out of their homes. Really, really hard to
think that these people are so isolated, and then
when that was going on, it made the situation even worse. So even though we have achieved a lot, we still need to make sure
that we are protecting and looking after trans kids in Australia. (applause) But, there are so many
people working on this issue, so many people speaking out now. It’s not just me, there
are lots of trans kids telling their story, which
I think is really important. And I know we can get this done. And the world is changing,
Australia is changing, and as we’ve learnt from
yesterday and this morning, that Australia is a really
progressive country, and we can do this. So thank you, everyone. (applause)>>What an impressive room full of people. Can I just say that? I have been looking around
the room this afternoon and thinking what an
extraordinary group of people, all of whom have been fighting for rights and freedoms in our community, without reaching out for the limelight. Without expecting the
kudos that goes with it. So congratulations to all of you, to all of the finalists, this afternoon. And thank you for your work. (applause) Our final award this afternoon
is the most important. It’s the Human Rights Medal. Each of our finalists has made
an impressive contribution to advancing human rights in Australia. They’re the people whose
passion and dedication keep them going where many others have, and would have, given up in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Joining us on the stage is Simon Wilkins, the general manager of
LexisNexis Australia, and a sponsor of the Human Rights Medal. Simon would like to say a few words. Simon? (applause)>>Thanks, thanks Jeremy. Wow, what a day. What an afternoon. I feel very proud to
be an Australian today. It’s an absolute privilege to be here to present the 2017 Human Rights Medal. It’s been a year of great challenges, but also great advances,
as evidenced today, to human rights, both within
Australia and globally. So to be able to play
a part in recognizing an outstanding individual who’s made such valuable contributions to
human rights development is indeed an honor. At LexisNexis, we’re proud
to say that our core mission as a global organization is to advance the rule of law around the world. This is a mission that is passionately supported by our staff and is developed with our customers and our communities. While there are many facets
that comprise rule of law, improving access to and knowledge
of the law is imperative. Indeed, equality in that
sense is a cornerstone of democratic legal
systems around the world. The rule of law and human
rights are intrinsically linked. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that human rights
should be protected by the rule of law, and
equality before the law and access to justice are
listed as basic human rights. But despite this, the UN
estimates that over half the world’s population still
lives outside the rule of law, and that’s more than four billion people struggling to access
to basic human rights. We’re incredibly lucky
to live in a country, I think, with a stable legal system, and to have an organization
such as the Australian Human Rights Commission acting on behalf of the vulnerable in our society. And we’ve been proud to
partner with the Australian Human Rights Commission
on a number of projects. Notably, the update to the Federal Discrimination Law Publication, and the development of RightsApp, which digitizes the Human Rights
at Your Fingertips Handbook and creates an easy to
access digital resource for those needing to access
human rights treaties and conventions. The Human Rights Medal is
awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding
contribution to the promotion and protection of
human rights in Australia. It has a prestigious
history of influential and inspirational winners. And LexisNexis is truly honored to be able to present such a significant award. To announce the finalists, I’ll invite Professor Rosalind
Croucher back to the mic. (applause)>>I said in my opening
remarks that the theme amongst our finalists
is one of resilience. Let me tell you the
stories of our finalists for this year’s Human Rights Medal. Anthony and Chrissie Foster. The Fosters spent more
than 20 years advocating and campaigning for
survivors of child sex abuse after two of their three
daughters were abused by a Catholic priest in Melbourne. Their advocacy helped to bring
about the Royal Commission into institutional responses
to child sexual abuse. (applause) Dr. John Malouf is our next. (applause) For the past decade, Dr.
John Malouf has provided surgical outreach programs for aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
people in remote communities in Queensland at no cost to the patient. His programs aim to close the gap in health equality for indigenous peoples. (applause) Walter Mikac is an advocate
for strong gun control, and the founding patron of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation. After the loss of his
wife and two children at the tragic massacre
at Port Arthur in 1996, Walter asked the then Prime Minister, the honorable John Howard, to
review the nations gun laws. Dr. Walter Mikac. (applause) Johnathan Thurston, who was recently named the 2018 Queensland Australian of the Year for his commitment to
improving life outcomes for indigenous Australians. Johnathan is involved in a
multitude of community programs, including Deadly Kindy,
which encourages indigenous children into kindergarten. He is also a key figure
in the NRL Cowboys House, which provides support and accommodation for indigenous students from
remote Queensland communities. (applause) Sonya Ryan. Since the murder of her
daughter, just over 10 years ago, by a man posing as a teenager online, Sonya has campaigned for stronger laws to protect young people online. She set up the Carly Ryan Foundation, and in June, Federal
Parliament passed Carly’s Law, to help protect children on the internet from online predators. (applause) And finally Ben Quilty, a renowned artist and human rights advocate,
Ben campaigned tirelessly against the death penalty and produced art with Myuran Sukumaran, an Australian who was convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death in Indonesia. Ben’s other works include an installation of hundreds of vests, to
symbolize the refugee crisis. (applause) And the winner of the
2017 Human Rights Medal: Johnathan Thurston. (uptempo pop music)>>Wow, ah, the last time I had an award, I was looking at the
other finalists and saying to my wife: I’ve no chance of winning the Queensland Australian of the Year. So I didn’t go in prepared. Next minute, I win that. So I’m a little bit more prepared, today. (sighing) Excuse me, I’m a little
bit nervous up here. Kicking a football is much easier. (laughing) The Human Rights Medal is
awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of
human rights in Australia. It is truly humbling to
be receiving this award, and I wanna congratulate and thank all of the award finalists
and winners here today for the work that they’re doing
within their own communities to make the country that I
love a better place to live. (applause) I’m also thrilled to be able
to share this opportunity with a special young Australian, Pama, who is here with me today. Pama is 13 years old,
he comes from a remote community of Laura, on the Cape York in far north Queensland. This year was Pama’s first
year at the NRL Cowboys House, which supports some of
the most disadvantaged young Australians to
gain access to a quality secondary school education. Pama has thrived in his
home away from home. Overcoming the challenge
of attending a new school with over 1,200 students. The last school that Pama
was at, the previous school he was at, had 20 students. I got to know Pama and the other students as ambassador of the house,
and hear their stories and come to realize how
resilient and how much progress they are making in the house, which is truly inspiring to me. You may know that I’m
passionate about my sport, my club, my state, and my country. But what I’m most passionate
about is my culture. (applause) Excuse me. And the future generations of my people. I believe that one of the biggest
drivers for social change, any tissues? (laughing) I believe that one of the biggest drivers for social change and in closing the gap is in education, and it
starts with our young people, like Pama, who is standing beside me. I am fortunate enough to be in a position to work with indigenous, ah, thank you. (laughing) With indigenous youth from early childhood through to young adulthood. As an ambassador for
programs like Deadly Kindy’s, which is getting parents
to get their kids, ah, they’re young children to
aboriginal medical service in southeast Queensland and Brisbane. We started with three
medical services last year. These have been rolled out
to the 19 medical services providing support for disadvantaged
young aboriginal people. I’m just one person in
a community of leaders, entrepreneurs and
innovators who are working to create better lives for
indigenous Australians. As a Queensland Reconciliation
Awards Ambassador, I can help raise awareness and recognition for life-changing initiatives that are all making a difference. I’m in this position today
because of my family, the sport that I play,
the club that I represent, and mentors that have believed in me. And now it is up to me to
take this responsibility and help believe in others like Pama. To have access to equal opportunity and are empowered to
live their best lives. Once again, I want to
congratulate and thank all the other award finalists, and it is truly a humbling experience to be standing here to receive this award. While I’ve received a lot
of accolades in my career on the football field, to
be recognized for the work I do in the community
far outweighs the things I’ve achieved on the field, so thank you. (cheering and applause)>>What a wonderful and uplifting way to finish up this
afternoon’s awards ceremony. Thank you and congratulations
to all the finalists, all the winners this afternoon. You are genuinely an
inspiration to all of us. Thank you. (applause) On behalf of the commission, I’d also like to thank the sponsors, and of course, all of you for coming along and making this such a
terrific annual event. The commission is very
keen to hear how they did, how we did, so they’ll
be sending out a survey. It’ll take about five minutes, but they do take it very seriously. And they look out for ways to make it better next time around. You’re very welcome to stay and chat for the next few minutes
before we have to clear out, but enjoy the rest of your afternoon, the rest of your weekend. And congratulations again to all of you. (applause)

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