2023 Australian Human Rights Awards finalists
A diverse array of people and organisations from across Australia were selected as finalists for the 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards. There were 260 nominations across five categories.
The award recipients were announced at a gala ceremony and reception in Sydney on Friday 8 December, just two days before International Human Rights Day and the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You can watch a recording of the livestreamed event.
Read more about all the finalists below, or download the PDF.
2023 Awards finalist videos
About the Awards
It's a big year for human rights
2023 is a landmark year for human rights – it’s the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
This year’s Awards aligns with and will form a key part of Australia’s commemorations.
The Awards are Australia’s premier event for honouring and celebrating all kinds of human rights heroes as well as significant achievements in protecting and promoting human rights in Australia.
Human Rights Medal
- Awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion, protection, and advancement of human rights in Australia.
- Presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Paul Ramsay Foundation
- Awarded to recognise the contribution of a person or organisation within the field of law to the advancement and protection of human rights in Australia.
- Presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission and LexisNexis Australia
Media & Creative Industries Award
- Awarded to recognise the contribution of a person or organisation to the advancement and protection of human rights in Australia within the fields of: journalism; film, TV and radio; literature; music; performing arts; visual arts; fashion; and advertising.
- Presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission and Creative Australia
Community Organisation Award
- Awarded to recognise the contribution of an individual or organisation with a proven track record in promoting and advancing human rights in the Australian community.
- Presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia
Young People’s Award
- Awarded to an individual who is under the age of 25 years (on 31 July 2022) and has made an outstanding contribution to advancing human rights in Australia.
- Presented by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the Delegation of the European Union to Australia
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a new emblem has been commissioned for the Australian Human Rights Awards.
The emblem is an artwork titled Djilba which has been created by First Nations artist Kambarni.
Reflecting the United Nations logo for human rights – which combines the shapes of a hand (representing humanity) and a bird ( representing peace) – the new emblem reinterprets this logo with a uniquely Australian and First Nations sensibility.
Kambarni is a prolific artist, designer, and illustrator, who reflects the natural world with intricate and graphic interpretations of Australian histories:
“This artwork considers the interplay between people and their environment, acknowledging that we are all part of something greater than ourselves - nature and humans are cyclic and connected - and what we put out into this world, we get back.”
Djilba means ‘first spring’ for the Noongar people of the Perth region in Western Australia.
First Nations artist Kambarni
The Human Rights Awards were first established by the Commission (then known as the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission) in 1987, to recognise the contributions of individuals across the nation who made it their life’s mission to champion human rights, social justice, and equality for all.
More than three decades later, the Human Rights Awards recognise the work of human rights advocates across Australia, showcasing the work of hundreds of people across a variety of sectors and endeavours.
This year, the Commission has adapted award categories to better align with Australia’s ever-changing human rights landscape. What originated as an evening to recognise human rights in film, television programs and literature works now spans across a broader field. The esteemed Human Rights Medal remains the only category from the inaugural Awards that is still awarded.
The first Human Rights Medal winner was Indigenous activist Rose Colless OAM, who was acknowledged for her tireless work in drug and alcohol rehabilitation initiatives for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. In the following years, the Human Rights Medal was awarded to other esteemed individuals including Fred Hollows, Peter Greste, Dorothy Hoddinott AO, Ian Thorpe, Jonathan Thurston, The Hon Peter McClellan AM QC and Chrissie Foster AM, Rosemary Kayess, and most recently, Professor Larissa Behrendt AO.
As a nationally significant event, the Awards brings together a range of organisations which support the production and delivery of the event.
We acknowledge the generosity and support of all our partners and thank them for their respective contributions.
Australian Human Rights Commission
Paul Ramsay Foundation
The Paul Ramsay Foundation is proud to be the Principal Partner for the 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards. Paul Ramsay Foundation CEO Professor Kristy Muir says the Foundation is delighted to celebrate the human rights achievements: “The Awards highlight both the value and impact of human rights as well as some of the outstanding Australians who are working hard every day to improve equity in society and champion justice for all.”
Delegation of the European Union to Australia
The European Union is committed to supporting democracy and human rights in its external relations. This is in accordance with its founding principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. The EU seeks to mainstream human rights concerns into all policies and programmes, with different human rights policy instruments for specific actions—including financing specific projects through its financing instruments. The EU continually includes human rights in political dialogues with third countries and regional organisations. It also holds dialogues and consultations specifically dedicated to human rights with some 40 countries.
Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia
Centre For Social Justice & Inclusion, University of Technology Sydney
Australian Government | Attorney-General's Department
Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
The Disability Trust
Wotton + Kearney
Australian Council of Human Rights Agencies
Human Rights Law Centre
Community Legal Centres Australia
UNHCR (the United Nations Refugee Agency)
Heroes come in all shapes and sizes
The Awards are your opportunity to honour and promote the work of our unsung heroes of human rights as well our more high profile achievers.
Help shine a light on the work of human rights champions who often go unrecognised for their efforts in advancing and defending human rights in Australia.
Thank you to all who submitted a nomination for the 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards.
Information about nominations for the 2024 Australian Human Rights Awards will be available early next year.
How to nominate
Nominating is easy! You can do it right here using the online form on our website. If you need help with other kinds of formats, please get in touch.
- Nominations are FREE.
- You can nominate yourself or the organisation you work for or a person or organisation you admire.
- People and organisations can be nominated in multiple categories.
- Nominators whose nominees are chosen as finalists will receive one (1) complimentary ticket to the Awards ceremony in Sydney. Should there be multiple nominators for a chosen finalist, only the first person to submit a nomination for that finalist will receive the complimentary ticket.
Provide a breadth of information.
Tell us exactly why your nominee should get an award. What has the nominee accomplished? How has their work made an impact? What’s the broader context of achievements a or contributions? What prompted you to submit your nomination? Provide as much information about their achievements and/or service as possible.
Keep it clear and concise
For your nomination to shine, it needn't be long. Aim for quality not quantity. And focus the work that’s specifically related to the reason you’re nominating the person or organisation.
Provide supporting material
Supporting material such as photographs, newspaper clippings, and links to blogs/websites are great. But be sure these are relevant to your nomination.
In choosing the recipients for the Awards, consideration is given to the nominee’s achievements in the year prior to receiving the award, as well as their ongoing contribution to the advancement of human rights.
An individual, organisation or community group need only be nominated once to be considered. The number of nominations received per nominee carries no weight in the judging process.
To be eligible for nomination, entrants must have made an outstanding contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights IN AUSTRALIA in at least one of the following areas, and been active in this area between 1 September 2022 and 31 August 2023:
- Taking action to overcome discrimination or infringements of human rights within Australia;
- Encouraging greater harmony between people of different race, sex, sexuality, age or ethnic origin within Australia;
- Enhancing the rights of Indigenous Australians;
- Promoting equal opportunity for people with a disability in Australia; or
- Increasing awareness of issues of injustice or inequality in Australia.
- Nominees must be an Australian citizen OR have resident status and be living in Australia OR be an organisation or association that is registered in Australia.
- Self-nominations are accepted
- Unsuccessful nominations may be re-nominated in subsequent years
- People and organisations can be nominated in multiple categories.
- Nominations for people aged 25 years or under (as of 31 August 2022) will be considered for the Young People's Award
- Eligibility is dependent on the award category and may be open to businesses, groups, organisations and/or individuals.
Selection panels will consider the following when assessing and comparing nominations against the above criteria:
- Does the nominee contribute to the advancement of human rights issues in Australia?
- Does the entry provide specific examples of their contribution?
- Has the nominee been a leader in this area of work in their community?
- Has the nominee raised community awareness of the issue?
- Has the nominee been able to provide a network of support for the issue?
- What was the outcome of the nominee’s contribution?
- How effective was the outcome?
- Did the nominee overcome any obstacles to achieve their outcome?
Terms & conditions
Nominees cannot be:
- an employee of the Australian Human Rights Commission
- an employee of a direct supplier of commercial products or services to the Australian Human Rights Commission
- a member of the 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards judging panels
- a partner organisation or an employee of a partner organisation of the 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards
Nominations for all awards must be received by 5pm Monday 4 September 2023, unless otherwise extended.
All submitted nominations and supporting material remain the property of the Australian Human Rights Commission and will not be returned.
The judging panel will select up to four (4) finalists and one (1) winner for each category.
The judges' decision is final and no further correspondence will be entered into.
The person who nominates a finalist will receive one (1) complimentary ticket to the 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards. Only one (1) ticket per nomination.
Should there be multiple nominators for one finalist, the first nomination for that finalist will receive the one (1) complimentary ticket to the 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards event.
Nominees must agree to any reasonable local, state or national marketing and media publicity associated with the 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards.
All finalists will be announced by Monday 16 October 2023.
Finalists are required, where possible, to attend the awards presentation ceremony and will each be given two (2) complimentary tickets to the 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards event.
The winner of each category will be announced at the 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards event in Sydney in December 2023.