Date: 
Tuesday 15 November 2016

Five inspiring Australians have been named finalists for the 2016 Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Community Individual Award.

“We received 42 nominations from outstanding Australians, dedicated to human rights at the community level,” said Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs.

“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,” she said.

The finalists are:

Susan Barton is a revolutionary leader in the field of youth homelessness. As the founder and director of the Lighthouse Foundation for Homeless Youth, Susan and her team have developed a unique support model that allows complete rehabilitation into society for disadvantaged young people.

Yassmen Yahya 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. Yassmen 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, has worked in human services for more than 25 years specialising in child protection, youth justice and family support. Shane has been CEO of the QLD Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Service for the past 11 years

Jane Rosengrave is a proud Yorta Yorta woman with an intellectual disability. She is a passionate advocate for people with disability. Jane 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 is a disability advocate, lawyer, mum of three 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.

This award is kindly sponsored by Maurice Blackburn Lawyers.

Thanks to our sponsors for the Human Rights Awards 2016