In its 31-year history, Australia’s Human Rights Awards have never had a government category until this year. This week the finalists of the new category were revealed.
The inaugural finalists, recognised by the Australian Human Rights Commission for contributing to human rights aims, cover the work of three state government programs and one local government program.
City of Ballarat
“Ballarat introduced a Cultural Diversity Strategy in 2009 to help overcome racism and demonstrate the benefits of having a diverse community. The Strategy includes the development of education and employment pathways as well as a multicultural ambassador. Ballarat is a Refugee Welcome Zone and actively combats racism though valuing and celebrating diversity.”
Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games Corporation
“The Commonwealth Games Corporation introduced a human rights policy for the Games held on the Gold Coast this year. The 2018 Games were the first major sporting event in Australia to include a Reconciliation Action Plan. Also making history this year, the Games were the largest integrated para-athlete program in the history of the Commonwealth Games.”
Charter Education Project
“The Charter Education Project (CEP) aims to make human rights a part of the everyday business of the Victorian government. The program has delivered training to nearly 5,000 public sector workers. The CEP is recognised for its significant impact in increasing awareness of human rights in the public sector.”
Professor Peter Shergold
“Professor Shergold has made an outstanding positive impact on the lives of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in his role as the NSW Coordinator-General for Refugee Resettlement. Through the establishment of an employment support program in Western Sydney and the Illawarra, nearly 500 refugees, asylum seekers and migrants have found employment while another 1,400 are receiving vocation training.”
The winners will be announced at a lunchtime ceremony on Friday, December 14 at the Westin Hotel Sydney.
Commission President, Professor Rosalind Croucher told The Mandarin at the announcement of the new category, the commission had recognised through its consultations that government — local government in particular — was very active in this space, such as through multicultural events, disability and inclusion, homelessness, making visible elder abuse.
“There are many government groups and individuals helping others overcome discrimination and isolation and building tolerance and respect in the community and further afield,” said Croucher after receiving the first round of nominations.
This year’s awards have a special significance as they coincide with the 70th anniversary of the UN’s Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
“When thinking of the awards I’m reminded of the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the drafters of the Universal Declaration,” said Croucher.
“She said that universal human rights begin in small places, close to home — so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world — in the world of the individual person; the neighborhood he or she lives in; the school or college they attend; the factory, farm, or office where they work.”