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7 December 2006
2006 Australian Human Rights Medal awarded to Father Chris Riley and Phillip Adams.
Two individuals with very different, yet complimentary styles of advocating change have been named joint-winners of the prestigious Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s annual Human Rights Medal - Father Chris Riley AM and Phillip Adams AO.
The judges felt that Father Riley and Mr Adams had both made outstanding contributions to the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia and were very deserved winners of this year’s award.
Father Riley has established a variety of programs to assist in breaking the cycle of poverty, disadvantage and marginalisation of young people. His Youth off the Street (YOTS) programs and services have helped over 60,000 young people since they were first established in 1991.
In 1997 he opened Key College, where he pioneered a flexible education delivery model to help young people living on the streets to return to mainstream school. He also set up an outreach program in Macquarie Fields in Sydney following the riots there.
Since 2003, Father Riley has run a camp for children with disabilities and initiated the Brumbies Wild Horse program, which is part of the Service Learning Model for the students of Matthew Hogan High.
The judges felt that Father Riley exemplified human rights in action. By his energy, vision and compassion he has not only helped an overwhelming number of individual young people out of a cycle of extreme disadvantage but has set in place networks and programs to educate the community about the need to make changes to help future generations of kids to have a better chance in life.
The judges said Mr Adams “has made a long and unrelenting contribution to discussing important human rights issues despite often being in the critical ‘firing line’… He has an inexhaustible passion for humanitarian issues…”
Mr Adams co-founded the sub-titling service that made television accessible to the hearing impaired, and has won international awards for his ‘Break Down the Barriers’ campaign for the International Year of Disabled Persons and for the International Year of the Child with the ‘Care of the Kids’ campaign.
More recently he helped establish Australians for Just Refugee Programs, funding the venture with support from the readers of his newspaper columns. This organisation evolved into A Just Australia and Mr Adams is now Chair of Rights Australia - an organisation intended to tackle a wide range of human rights issues. For decades he has also focused on national and international human rights issues in his radio program Late Night Live. http://www.abc.net.au/rn/latenightlive/
The judges also highly commended Dr Caroline Taylor for the 2006 Human Rights Medal for her advocacy work for the rights of women and children.
Dr Taylor has established her own foundation, Children of Phoenix, which is part of the Carolyn Taylor Trust, to raise funds to support the educational expenses of survivors of childhood abuse and works voluntarily with victims of abuse.
Father Riley and Mr Adams join a distinguished list of past Human Rights Medal winners including: The Hon. Justice Michael Kirby (1991), Dr Faith Bandler (1997), Rt Hon. Malcolm Fraser (2000), Michael Raper (2002) and Kevin Cocks (2005).
10 December 2003
Refugee and asylum seeker advocate Marion Le was awarded the 2003 Human Rights Medal at a ceremony in Sydney today for her consistent and effective work in promoting human rights over the last three decades.
Since 1987, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has presented the Human Rights Medal to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights in Australia.
Ms Lê joins a prestigious list of winners, including former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, Helen Bayes, founder and National Coordinator of Defence for Children International and Indigenous leader Dr Faith Bandler. Last year’s Human Rights Medal was awarded to welfare rights advocate Michael Raper.
President of the Indo-China Refugees Association for over 10 years, Ms Lê visits the refugee camps of Thailand and Malaysia and Australian detention centres, working as a tireless advocate for long-term durable solutions to the problems of the dispossessed of famine and war.
She has raised awareness of human rights and social justice in the media and in the community, with a particular focus on women at risk, gender issues and the rights of children. Her work has resulted in the successful settlement of hundreds of refugees and migrants into the Australian community.
As a teacher of 30 years experience Ms Lê was responsible for introducing programs into schools that raise issues of multiculturalism, human rights and social justice.
The judges were impressed by her outstanding contribution to the advancement of human rights in Australia. They said ‘She has given so much of herself in a voluntary capacity to individuals and families, and has applied the lessons of those experiences to seek broader systemic solutions in policy and legislation. She has provided help to many and acted as an example to many more; she has not only spoken out but she has acted, consistently and courageously, to make human rights a reality in the lives of so many.’
The judges said they were encouraged by the energy, drive and commitment to human rights that was shown by all the nominees, but wanted to particularly acknowledge Margaret Reynolds for her tireless work in campaigning for human rights issues at a domestic and international level over many years, and Jeremy Jones, who has played a leading role in developing interfaith and inter-ethnic collaboration against racism.
by Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

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