10 December 2007

Northern Land Council wins
2007 Human Rights Community (Organisation) Award

The 2007 Human Rights Community (Organisation) Award has been presented to the Northern Land Council.

The award was accepted by the newly elected Chairman of the Northern Land Council (NLC), Mr Wali Wunungmurra, at the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission’s Human Rights Medal and Awards ceremony at the Sheraton on the Park Hotel in Sydney today.

THE NLC was established as an independent statutory authority in 1973 to advocate for Aboriginal people of the Top End. It assists Aboriginal people in the northern region of the Territory to acquire and manage their traditional lands and seas and provides its services to over 40,000 Aboriginal people (70 per cent of NT Indigenous population), and has been at the forefront of many struggles to protect sacred sites as well as economic and political interests.

Among its other achievements have been the West Arnhem Land Fire Abatement Project which won the Australian Museum’s inaugural Eureka Prize for Innovative Solutions to Climate Change; and the Carpentaria Ghost Net Project, which aims to rid the Gulf of lost or abandoned fishing nets, for which Aboriginal sea rangers, supported by the NLC, won a Banksia Award. Additionally, during 2006-07, NLC placed 80 Aboriginal people in full-time employment with secure career prospects.

The judges felt the Community (Organisation) Award should go to the NLC because of its dedication and hard work to overcoming Indigenous disadvantage and to achieving outcomes that will enhance the human rights of traditional Aboriginal owners.

The achievements of The House of Welcome were recognised by the judges as highly commended. A project of the NSW Ecumenical Council Relief Institute Inc., House of Welcome provides assistance to refugee and asylum seekers who have been displaced from home and country by war, conflict and persecution. It provides assistance to people who have often had their suffering exacerbated by the experience of immigration detention and the settlement issues they subsequently face, and helps them to find accommodation, health care, counselling and free English classes.

Other awards presented at the ceremony today are for achievements in Law, Arts Non-Fiction, Television, Print Media, Radio and Community (Individual) Awards and the prestigious Human Rights Medal. For more information see www.humanrights.gov.au/about/hr_awards

Media contact:  Brinsley Marlay (02) 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529