Tuesday 10 December 2013

Sister Clare Condon, a “woman of integrity, compassion and great fortitude”, has won the 2013 Human Rights Medal.

The Human Rights Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs, presented the Medal to Sister Clare at the Human Rights Awards, held in Sydney tonight.

Sister Clare is the Congregational Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan of the Order of St Benedict.

“Under Sister Clare’s leadership, the Sisters of the Good Samaritan have helped provide emergency housing for women and children experiencing domestic violence and have supported self-determination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

“Sister Clare is a determined and compassionate woman who has made a very significant contribution to human rights over a long period of time.

“She is never afraid to stand up for what she believes in, nor is she afraid to take her message directly to Government, relentlessly lobbying politicians to help those in need.

“Sister Clare he has been with the Sisters of the Good Samaritan for about 40 years. During this time she has made a very significant contribution to human rights, modernising the Sisters of the Good Samaritan and broadening their human rights focus.

“Just one example is the housing support provided by the Sisters to victims of domestic violence.  In the past few years, the Sisters have helped more than 5,000 women and children who have suffered domestic violence,” Professor Triggs said.

Professor Triggs presented ten Human Rights Awards tonight, including the Young People’s Human Rights Medal, won by Mariah Kennedy.

Ms Kennedy is a Young Ambassador for UNICEF and the author of the children’s book, Reaching Out, Messages of Hope.

At just 16 years of age, Ms Kennedy approached some of Australia’s best loved children’s authors and illustrators for contributions to the book, which addresses social justice issues such as child labour, refugee rights and global poverty.

In June 2013, Mariah’s extraordinary anthology was published by Harper Collins with all proceeds going to UNICEF. 

The other 2013 Human Rights Awards winners are:

Law Award: Professor Andrea Durbach.

Professor Andrea Durbach is a member of the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales, and Director of the Human Rights Law Centre. Prior to joining UNSW, she spent 13 years at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). Before coming to Australia, Professor Durbach, represented 25 black defendants in the notorious Upington death penalty case in South Africa.

Business Award: Freedom Housing.

Freedom Housing allows people with disabilities and their families to live under the same roof in homes that are privately-owned or leased. Freedom Housing operates in line with the rights and values espoused in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Community Organisation Award: The National Centre of Indigenous Excellence.

The National Centre for Indigenous Excellence provides a safe and innovative space for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to participate in life-changing programs.

Community Individual Award: Carolyn Frohmader.

Carolyn Frohmader has made a significant contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights for women and girls with disabilities. She is executive director of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA).

Radio Award: Carol Dowling, Noongar Radio Perth, for The State of Our Children’s Hearing (30-part series).

Ms Dowling’s 30-part series highlights the prevalence of ear disease among Noongar communities in Western Australia.

Print and Online Media Award: Debra Jopson, The Global Mail, for Rock Art At Risk.

Ms Jopson’s series investigates the demise of rock art sites across the nation. As a result of the articles, the NSW government took action to protect two rock art sites in the Blue Mountains. 

Television Award: Naomi Chainey, Elvira Alic, Phineas Meere for No Limits.

No Limits is a disability-focussed program that engages with current news and issues by hosting panel discussions, commentary and comedy. It has had a strong positive effect in giving people with disability a voice in the media.

Literature Award: Ranjana Srivastava for Dying for a Chat (Penguin Special).

Thanks to the stunning advances of modern medicine, life for many Australians is prolonged at all costs. But as Dying for a Chat shows, these life-saving measures can cause harm and suffering when used inappropriately.

Photo: Gillian Triggs and Sister Claire Condon.