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Finalists announced – Individual Community Award

Commission Commission – General

Five outstanding Australians have been named as finalists for the 2017 Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Community Individual Award.

“There are so many individuals working tirelessly to improve human rights in our communities,” said President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher.

“This Award is a chance for impressive Australians to be recognised for the dedication to human rights and it particularly highlights the profound impact that one person can have on an entire community,” she said.

The Awards will be held on Friday, 8 December 2017 at Sydney’s Westin Hotel. Tickets are now on sale here.

The finalists are:

Saba Vasefi
Saba settled in Australia as a refugee after escaping persecution in Iran for her activism against capital punishment. She is an Iranian-Australia academic, filmmaker, poet and human rights advocate. Saba uses her artistic and cultural activities to campaign against the death penalty, advance the rights of women and children as well as give a voice to refugees and asylum seekers.

Barbara Elizabeth Spriggs
Barbara is an inspiring example of how an individual can achieve systemic change in human rights. Barbara’s husband was a resident at Older Persons Mental Health facility at Oakden in 2015 and 2016. Her persistence to seek answers for the suspected abuse and neglect of her husband while in care at Oakden led to the exposure of a decade-long culture of cover up of the abuse and maltreatment of residents at the facility.

Catia Malaquias
Catia is a disability advocate and founder of Starting with Julius, an organisation which aims to include people with disability in the media and in advertising in order to reshape cultural attitudes and eliminate discriminatory barriers towards disability. In 2016, Catia also co-founded All Means All - The Australian Alliance for Inclusive Education to promote and develop inclusive and accessible strategies to realise equality in education for people with disability.

Alastair Lawrie
Alastair is a passionate campaigner for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community. He has spent a decade building awareness of the anti-discrimination protections that exist for LGBTI Australians. Most recently, he played a key role in the #NoPlebiscite Campaign, conducted the State of Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia Survey and provided submissions to government inquiries across all Australian jurisdictions on better legal and policy protection for the LGBTI community.

Sister Jane Irene Keogh
Sister Jane has devoted more than 15 years to assisting refugees in immigration detention centres and those living in the Australian community. She supports individuals in detention and off shore processing by providing access to basic needs, including clothing, accommodation, employment, legal assistance and access to telecommunications. Sister Jane uses her direct experience to engage politicians, community groups, the media and religious communities to bring about systemic change.