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Human Rights Awards



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. 

However, given the extraordinary circumstances of 2020 we believe a different approach is needed this year to celebrate the many human rights champions who have emerged. So we’ll be showcasing the human rights heroes of 2020 in a new online campaign – and we invite you all to join us.

If you know a person, group, organisation or community that has contributed to human rights in Australia in 2020, we want to hear from you! Fill out our quick submission form here and let us know who they are and what makes them a human rights hero. Submissions close Saturday 31st October. 

We look forward to receiving your submissions!


Human rights awards winners

Human Rights Awards

Human rights medal

Rosemary Kayess

Rosemary Kayess is a leading disability rights activist, academic, and lawyer. She contributed to drafting the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and successfully lobbied for its ratification in Australia. She teaches international human rights law and publishes extensively on international human rights for people with disability. She is currently Vice Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Young people’s human rights medal

Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts

Vanessa Turnbull Roberts is a proud Bundjalung woman, writer and leader. Vanessa is currently in her fifth year of Law and Social work at UNSW undertaking her thesis. Vanessa continues to dedicate her time to fighting against the injustices that disproportionately affect her community through community protest and leading at macro levels. Vanessa draws awareness to forced adoption legalisation and the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in Out Of Home Care and incarceration.

Tony fitzgerald memorial community individual award

Jasmine Cavanagh

Jasmine led a successful class action case against the Northern Territory Government over unjust public housing policies for Aboriginal tenants. She advocates for dignified housing conditions to increase positive outcomes for Indigenous communities in rural areas. Jasmine’s community activism paves the way for other remote communities to replicate her success.

Community organisation award

Just Reinvest NSW

Just Reinvest NSW works to reduce the number of Aboriginal people in prisons by supporting community-led justice reinvestment initiatives and advocating for systemic change to the criminal justice system. Community-led justice reinvestment initiatives support self-determination and capacity building through place-based and data driven solutions to the challenges facing many communities.

Government award

Armidale Regional Council

Armidale Regional Council (ARC) champions the integration and wellbeing of refugees in their community. The Council’s approach is proactive, innovative and culturally sensitive, including initiatives such as volunteering opportunities, the promotion of cultural rights through spaces for traditional cultural practices, and raising awareness about refugees in the wider Armidale community.

Law award

Kate Eastman SC

Kate Eastman SC is a distinguished human rights lawyer and academic. Her work over nearly three decades in discrimination law and human rights has involved a significant amount of pro bono work, taking on cases about slavery, human trafficking, sexual harassment, equal pay, disability rights, the rights of detainees, children and asylum seekers. She has contributed to many human rights organisations, engaged in human rights law reform and education in Australia and overseas.

Racism. it stops with me (RISWM)

The Final Quarter

Produced by Shark Island Productions, The Final Quarter uses archival footage of the last three years of Adam Goodes’ AFL career to highlight the prevalence of racism in Australia. Speaking to the discrimination faced by Indigenous Australians in particular, the film has generated a conversation prompting all Australians to reflect on their understanding of racism.

Media award

ABC Investigation into Aged Care

This series of stories across ABC TV, Radio and Online, including two Four Corners programs, exposed widespread abuse, neglect and inhumane treatment of people living in aged care facilities. These revelations started a conversation about age and disability rights as the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety was announced.

Business award


STREAT is a Melbourne-based social enterprise tackling youth homelessness and disadvantage by providing a supported pathways to employment or further study. STREAT runs 7 cafes, a coffee roastery, a bakery and events company which provide training and work experience for young people in need.  STREAT generates 80% of its own income through its businesses with the remaining 20% via grants, foundations and corporate support.

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