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Community Awards go to ChilOut and David Vadiveloo

Commission Commission – General

9 December 2005

Community Awards go to ChilOut and David Vadiveloo

A group who fought tooth and nail to get children out of detention has won the Community (Organisation) Award and an internationally acclaimed filmmaker who has been a human rights lawyer, trainer and advisor has won the Community (Individual) Award at the 2005 Human Rights Awards. The Community Award category was sponsored by SBS Radio.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission presented the awards to ChilOut (Children out of Detention) and David Vadiveloo at a ceremony in Sydney today.

The judges credited ChilOut for their relentless campaign and for their contribution in pressuring the federal Government to remove children from immigration detention.

The group of "middle Australia mums and dads" that formed in 2001 after seeing the plight of a six-year-old Iranian boy in immigration detention has demonstrated the remarkable power of committed individuals to achieve change. They showed the faces of children behind razor wire and brought the suffering of those children into Australian living rooms - confronting us all with the reality of children in detention.

ChilOut supported people inside immigration detention through visitors' programs and worked tirelessly to increase public awareness on the plight of refugees, asylum seekers and their children. Their campaign had a clear goal and this award recognises the efforts of the many people involved. ChilOut's reward was getting children out of detention and this award is a celebration and recognition of their efforts.

There were three highly commended entries in the Community Organisation category: Streetwize Communications; The Immigration Advice and Rights Centre, and; NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre Inc.

Streetwize Communications has assumed a conscious presence as a public educator for more than two decades. It has made a huge contribution to educating people - not just a 'human rights' audience, but across the board on issues as diverse as gay rights, health and education, Indigenous issues and domestic violence.

The Immigration Advice and Rights Centre is a non-profit community legal centre that specialises in immigration law and policy. The centre continues to do an excellent job in providing free advice and assistance to socially disadvantaged people and was one of the standout entries in this year's awards.

The NSW Disability Discrimination Legal Centre Inc. has been around for more than a decade, is well known for its field work and has helped large numbers of people to achieve equal rights. Despite averaging two full-time staff, the centre manages to represent individuals and carry out a large amount of lobbying and advocacy work. It has had a real impact on the lives of people with a disability in NSW.

The winner of the Community (Individual) Award, David Vadiveloo, works at the grass roots level assisting Indigenous communities to communicate their issues to the global stage. He created the landmark ABC children's television and interactive series UsMob to encourage cross-cultural communication and help Indigenous communities to find a voice through the internet. His nationally and internationally recognised documentaries and docu-dramas include episodes for the SBS series Tales froma Suitcase, Trespass, Beyond Sorry and Bush Bikes.

The judges were impressed by the commitment to human rights activism Vadiveloo has shown throughout his life, forgoing a career in the legal profession to follow his passion. They said he was motivated by love for his work, the communities and individuals who lived there. The mutual respect was evident.

In his work, he uses peer support to engage with the community and has developed resources for others to use. His videos act as community-building devices and give a good appreciation of the places and people he works with.

There were two highly commended entries in the Community (Individual) category - Kerrianne Cox and Jane Rowe.

Jane Rowe founded the Mirabel Foundation in 1998 to support children who had been orphaned or abandoned due to their parents' illicit drug use. The judges said she had taken on an enormous challenge and made remarkable achievements.

Aboriginal performing artist and Beagle Bay community chairperson Kerrianne Cox impressed the judges with her conscientious efforts to help her community and to promote the rights of Indigenous Australians.

The prestigious Human Rights Medal was also presented at the ceremony, along with awards for Law (sponsored by the Law Council of Australia), Arts Non-Fiction, Print Media, Television and Radio (sponsored by SBS Radio). For full details:

updated 9 December 2005.