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Australia’s human rights champions put social justice and equality centre stage

Commission – General
five people sitting and four people standing on a stage, smiling
Content type: Media Release
Topic(s): Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice / Indigenous Social Justice, Age Discrimination, Asylum Seekers and Refugees, Children, Commission – General, Disability Discrimination, LGBTIQ, Legal, Race Discrimination, Sex Discrimination

Women’s equity and racial equality advocate Juliana Nkrumah AM has been awarded the prestigious Human Rights Medal at the 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards in Sydney tonight.

Other awards went to Gabriel Osborne (Young People’s Award), Northern Pictures (Media and Creative Industries Award), Advocacy Tasmania (Community Award) and the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia (Law Award).

Commission President, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM said, “Every year I’m  inspired and deeply moved by the bravery, compassion and dedication of the people and organisations we honour through this event. I also pay tribute to all our finalists and the everyday human rights heroes who are quietly making their own unique contributions to making our community more equitable, inclusive and respectful.”

The Commonwealth Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus KC MP delivered this year’s Human Rights Day Oration to mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

Human Rights Medal recipient Ms Nkrumah said, “My life’s work has been shaped by the UDHR’s promise of freedom, justice and equality for all.”

For 30 years, Ms Nkrumah has worked to empower women, migrants and refugees, and advance their human rights. She also works with decision makers to increase their ability to fulfil and respect human rights. “My desire is for government policies and services to recognise that human rights are non-negotiable and a foundation on which we can find solutions,” Juliana said.

The Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia (ALSWA) received the Law Award for providing legal expertise, advocating for systemic change and empowering community. ALSWA has been successful in litigation on the conditions of young people in the notorious Banksia Hill Detention Centre and Unit 18 at Casuarina Prison.

Advocacy Tasmania (Community Award) was recognised for its work through advocacy and representation to restore human rights for individuals such as older people, people living with disability or mental health issues, and people who use alcohol and drugs. The organisation draws on personal stories to advocate for systemic change.

Northern Pictures (Media and Creative Industries Award), creator of TV shows and documentaries such as Love on the Spectrum and See What You Made Me Do, was recognised for its powerful and inclusive storytelling. The production company provides a platform for voices that are rarely heard in mainstream media.

Gabriel Osborne, recipient of the Young People’s Award, has used their lived experience to advocate for survivors of institutional abuse and LGBTQIA+ conversion practices. They recently set up Flying Free, a not-for-profit organisation working towards systemic reform nationally.

Since 1987, the Commission’s Australian Human Rights Awards have celebrated the important work of people, businesses and organisations who have advanced human rights in Australia.

The 2023 Awards received 265 nominations, and 21 finalists were chosen across five award categories. The Awards were sponsored by event partners: Paul Ramsay Foundation, LexisNexis, FECCA, the European Union Delegation to Australia, the Attorney-General’s Department and Creative Australia.

Learn more about the finalists, including videos showcasing their work. 

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