7 December 2006

2006 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.

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).

Awards were presented in seven other categories - Law (sponsored by the Law Council of Australia), Community (Individual and Organisation), Arts Non-Fiction, Print Media, Television and Radio. For full details on all the category winners go to www.humanrights.gov.au/hr_awards/


Media contact: Louise McDermott on 02 9284 9851 or 0419 258 597



Last updated March 27, 2009