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Refugee advocate wins 2003 Human Rights Medal

Commission Commission – General

Wednesday 10 December 2003
- Human Rights Medal

Refugee advocate wins 2003 Human Rights Medal

Refugee and asylum seeker advocate Marion Lê 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.

updated 21 June 2004.