Friday 13 December, 2019
The Human Rights Awards is the pinnacle of human rights recognition in Australia. Each year, the Australian Human Rights Commission recognises the outstanding contribution of individuals and organisations that promote and protect human rights and freedoms.
This year, the Peer Advocacy Team, advocates against racial profiling by Victoria Police was nominated as a promising finalist for the ‘Racism. It stops with me’ award.
Law student, Sajda Yakub and youth worker, Barry Berih,(Pictured) were delighted to represent the Peer Advocacy Team and attend the auspicious Human Rights Awards ceremony held on Friday, 13th December 2019.
The pair were treated to stunning ‘Welcome to Country’ by Yvonne Weldon, a Wiradjuri woman with proud linkages to her homelands of Cowra and Narrandera. This was followed by a keynote address by Rosalind Croucher, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, who highlighted the importance of celebrating significant strides in advancing human rights in Australia.
The five finalists for each category displayed a short presentation of their achievements. The nine distinguished categories were Human Rights Medal, the Young People’s Human Rights Medal, Law Award, Business Award, ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ Award, Government Award, Community Organisation Award, Tony Fitzgerald Memorial Community Individual Award and the Media Award.
Amongst these short presentations was the Peer Advocacy Team’s which featured our very own Sajda Yakub, who bravely spoke of the importance of tackling prejudice and ensuring that diverse voices are heard.
“I think, fighting institutionalised racism and discrimination is definitely needed in Australia,” implored Sajda.
The short clip galvanised the inspiring theme of the conference and was well-received by the audience.
The pair then met with Race Commissioner Mr Chin Tan to discuss future programs of the Peer Advocacy Team. The energetic room was jam-packed with dignitaries including the media, corporate as well as young and emerging human rights advocates.
The award for ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ was presented to the producers of ‘The Final Quarter’ for highlighting the prevalence of racism in Australia, exemplified by the Indigenous Australia football player, Adam Goodes. The film highlighted the deplorable state of racism which touches even the highest of Australian heroes.
Amongst the winners, the headlining Human Rights Medal category was awarded to the unforgettable Rosemary Kayess. Presenting a heart-rendering speech to the audience, Rosemary successfully led and contributed to the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The terrific selection of high-achievers raised awareness for Australia’s aged care abuse, homelessness, racism and disability support. Indeed, the highlight of the afternoon was the passionate acknowledgement our First Nations people by Vanessa Turnbull-Roberts, a proud Bundjalung woman and the Young Peoples’ Human Rights Medal winner.
The event highlighted what can be accomplished by extraordinary Australians and demonstrates the importance of the Peer Advocacy Team’s work for breaking down barriers for young people and instilling resilience within local communities.
Following the ceremony, the team met with Naz Jacobs from Get Up! and colour code to discuss potential collaborative opportunities that will enhance the Peer Advocacy Team’s future communication strategies via social media platforms to effectively target youth.
Overall, considering the high calibre of finalists at the 2019 Human Right Awards, the Peer Advocacy Team was sublimely showcased for its dynamic provisions and performance in community development. It was a humbling opportunity to exhibit what the organisation has already achieved and the budding potential for improving local communities in the heart of Melbourne.
By Faseeha Hashmi,
Masters in International Relations, journalist
The Peer Advocacy Team have been calling for stop-and-search receipting to be introduced in Victoria to help prevent racially discriminatory policing practices.
The team produced a video called End Racial Profiling Now which can be seen at https://vimeo.com/239227645
The Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre would like to congratulate all of the Peer Advocacy Team who have supported and advocated for young people facing racism and discriminatory policing throughout Victoria. This nomination is well-deserved national recognition for the whole team.
Special thanks to the courageous and generous supporters who keep the work of Peer Advocacy Team alive, and to our partners CoHealth and key supporters the Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation, Pick My Project and the Reichstein Foundation.
For Background see – https://www.policeaccountability.org.au/peer-advocacy-project/
For all the finalists in the 2019 Awards see https://hrawards.humanrights.gov.au/news/stories/more-finalists-are-announced-year-s-human-rights-awards