Community Leaders Finalists in Human Rights Awards
16 November 2016 at 12:08 pm
Five community leaders and advocates, addressing issues from homelessness to intellectual disability, have been named as finalists in the Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Community Individual Award as part of the 2016 Human Rights Awards.
“We received 42 nominations from outstanding Australians, dedicated to human rights at the community level,” Human Rights Commission president, Professor Gillian Triggs said.
“All of these finalists are inspiring Australians who live and breathe human rights and work tirelessly to remind us how much one person can do to change the lives of others.”
The finalists are:
- Susan Barton, a leader in the field of youth homelessness. As the founder and director of the Lighthouse Foundation for Homeless Youth, Barton and her team have developed a support model that allows complete rehabilitation into society for disadvantaged young people.
- Yassmen Yahya, who belongs to an ethnic minority called Mandaeanism who have been persecuted for many years, most notably during the Iraq War. Today, the largest Mandaean community is in Sydney. Yahya established a Mandaean Women’s committee to assist and encourage larger participation of ethnic women in the community.
- Shane Duffy, a descendant of the Kalkadoon people of North West Queensland, who has worked in human services for more than 25 years specialising in child protection, youth justice and family support. Duffy has been CEO of the Queensland Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service for the past 11 years.
- Jane Rosengrave, a Yorta Yorta woman with an intellectual disability. She is a passionate advocate for people with disability. Rosengrave grew up in institutions and has experienced segregation as well as sexual and other violence, including domestic violence. She contributes to several organisations and shares her personal experiences publicly to raise awareness of the abuse and discrimination facing people with disability.
- Catia Malaquias, a disability advocate, lawyer and the director of Down Syndrome Australia and the Attitude Foundation. She also founded the Starting with Julius project which aims to transform cultural attitudes towards people with disability, by promoting disability inclusion in mainstream media, advertising and education.
The award is named in honour of Tony Fitzgerald who was a passionate advocate for human rights. He was born in Sydney and moved to Melbourne at 16 years of age where he studied and practiced law before moving to Darwin in 1978 to work at the North Australian Aboriginal Legal Aid Service.
He served as the Northern Territory’s anti-discrimination commissioner from 2002 until his death from cancer in 2009.
He fought for equal opportunity employment that recognised and valued diversity and was passionate about the need to promote a fair and just society that was free from racial discrimination and inequality.
The award is one of eight categories, including the Human Rights Medal, that will be presented at the 30th annual Human Rights Awards on Friday 9 December.
The 2015 Human Rights Medal was won by journalist Peter Greste who was detained in Egypt for almost two years for allegedly spreading false news. Greste has since campaigned tirelessly for the release of his colleagues, and campaigned for freedom of speech as a cornerstone of democratic societies.