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HREOC media release: Dead Men Working wins Print Media category at the 2007 Human Rights Awards

Commission – General

10 December 2007

Dead Men Working wins Print Media category at the 2007 Human Rights Awards

The 2007 Human Rights Print Media Award has been presented to the series of articles entitled Dead Men Working by Sydney Morning Herald journalists Matthew Moore and Malcolm Knox.

The award was accepted by Mr Knox at the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s Human Rights Medal and Awards ceremony at the Sheraton on the Park Hotel in Sydney today.

Dead Men Working ran in the Sydney Morning Herald on 28 and 29 August 2007. It was a special investigation that exposed blatant breaches of the 457 skilled worker visa scheme which allows employers to sponsor thousands of foreigners to come here to do jobs that Australians cannot or will not do. It delved deeply into the hidden world of exploited guest workers who are too afraid of being sacked or sent home to speak out about abuses to which they were being subjected. The articles focused public attention on the fact that some of the worst of human rights breaches – discrimination, abuse, exploitation and slavery – are actually taking place in our country today.

The judges felt that the Human Rights Print media Award should go to this series because it exemplified the contribution the print media can make to better awareness and protection of human rights in Australia. In writing these articles, the journalists contributed to government action, and an increase in public demand for, the introduction of reforms to the temporary visa system that would better protect the rights of all people coming to Australia.

Two other entries in this category were recognised as highly commended for their impressive editorial commitment to humanising two communities in Australia that are often marginalised and misunderstood – Indigenous Australians and Muslim Australians.

Voices from the Heart of the Nation was a series of articles from the Warlpiri Media Association in partnership with Reconciliation Australia and News Limited that were published in The Australian on 25 and 27 August and 10 and 24 September 2007. In this series, individuals from the Warlpiri People in the Northern Territory told their personal stories about living as Indigenous Australians, demonstrating the experiences of love, loss, work and family that are common to all Australians.

Another series, The Face of Islam, from Commissioning Editor, Peter Kerr, was published in the Sydney Morning Herald between 28 April and 5 May 2007. This series was a comprehensive set of articles that explored the diversity of Islamic life and opinion in Australia. It looked beyond stereotypes in an effort to open a dialogue about what it means to be both Muslim and Australian.

Other awards presented at the ceremony today are for achievements in Law, Arts Non-Fiction, Television, Radio, Community Awards for both organisations and individuals and the prestigious Human Rights Medal. For more information see

Media contact:  Brinsley Marlay (02) 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529