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Human Rights Awards

Two young women smiling, one wearing a yellow shirt with her arm around the other, wearing a red shirt. Human Rights Award Logo appears in bottom left, on a blue background.

Nominations for the 2022 Human Rights Awards have now closed - finalists will be announced in November.  

Every year the Commission holds the Human Rights Awards to celebrate human rights achievements. It is a chance to acknowledge, congratulate and share the important work of organisations, businesses, and individuals across the nation.

The Commission is proud to announce that the Human Rights Awards will be proceeding in 2022 as an in-person event for the first time since 2019. This year’s event will include four award categories: 

  • Human Rights Medal  
  • Young People’s Human Rights Medal  
  • Community award  
  • Law award 

Nominations for award categories are now closed. The four finalists in each category will be announced in November.   

Winners will be announced at a function in Sydney on Friday December 9, and also live-streamed for those who can't make it.

Make sure you follow us on follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay in the loop about nominations, the judging process, and the awards event.  


The event is sponsored by LexisNexis and the UTS Centre for Social Justice & Inclusion 

Logo for Lexi Nexis

     Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion, UTS logo

  • About the Awards

    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 33 years later, the Human Rights Awards recognise the work of human rights advocates across Australia, and to champion 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.

    The Human Rights Awards provide Australia with an opportunity to honour the unsung heroes of human rights. They shine a light on and promote the work of champions who often go unrecognised for their efforts in challenging, transforming the realisation of human rights in Australia.

  • Award Categories

    Human Rights Medal  
    Awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the promotion, protection, and advancement of human rights in Australia. 

    Young People’s Human Rights Medal  
    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.  

    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. 

    Law award 
    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. 

  • Nomination criteria

    In choosing the recipients of the Human Rights Awards categories, 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 August 1, 2021 and July 31, 2022:

    • 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.

    Eligibility criteria

    • Nominees must be a lawful resident of Australia
    • Self-nominations are accepted
    • Unsuccessful nominations may be re-nominated in subsequent years

    Category criteria

    • Nominations under the age of 25 (as of July 31, 2022) will be considered for the Young People’s Medal
    • Nominators can put forward nominations across all three categories

    Judging criteria

    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?
  • Key dates

    AUGUST 2022
    The Australian Human Rights Commission calls on individuals, community groups, businesses, and organisations to nominate for a Human Rights Award. 

    Nominations are open for four weeks, whereby the public can submit nominations for individuals or groups that meet the selection criteria.

    Once nominations close, they are categorised and reviewed by a judging panel. An expert selection panel will select the finalists and winner in each award category. 

    All nominators will be notified by email if the nomination they put forward has been selected as a 2021 Human Rights Awards finalist. All finalists will be notified.

    NOVEMBER 2022
    Finalists will be announced across the Commission’s social media platforms. Make sure you are following the Commission on  Twitter Facebook, and  Instagram.

    The winner of the Human Rights Medal, the Young People’s Medal, the Community Human Rights Award, and the Law Award will be announced at an in-person event in Sydney.  

  • Sponsor: LexisNexis

    Lexis Nexis logo

    Our core belief, central premise and purpose is to uphold the Rule of Law which fundamentally states that no one is above the law.

    We provide legal content and technology solutions to the legal profession, LexisNexis supports the Rule of Law and ensures that the administration of justice is maintained.

    The Rule of Law is the unifying purpose behind our work to serve customers and their communities. By upholding the Rule of Law, we support our government and ensure its officials and agents are accountable under the law.

    We ensure laws are clear, publicised, stable and fair and are an indispensable partner to legal and other professionals to ensure they have authoritative, accurate and comprehensive information. We at LexisNexis are committed to promoting the Rule of Law in a variety of ways, including by offering direct financial support and legal and technical advice to organisations that combat human trafficking and support victims of human trafficking. We pride ourselves at LexisNexis Australia at being the next generation Rule of Law.

  • Sponsor: EU delegation

    European Union delegation to Australia

    The European Union is committed to supporting democracy and human rights in its external relations, 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 its policies and programmes, and has different human rights policy instruments for specific actions — including financing specific projects through its financing instruments. The EU regularly includes human rights in political dialogues with third countries or regional organisations. It also holds dialogues and consultations specifically dedicated to human rights with some 40 countries.






  • Sponsor: UTS Centre for Social Justice & Inclusion

    The Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion is the gateway for partners to engage with the University of Technology, Sydney's resources and expertise to maximise social impact. The Centre works with community organisations, not-for-profits, social purpose businesses, and individuals.

    It drives the university's social impact agenda by:

    • Catalysing and rewarding activities with social impact
    • Connecting partners around social justice initiatives
    • Fostering a diverse and inclusive culture
    • Delivering strategic and collaborative programs
    • Leading and evaluating whole-of-university strategies and systems



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