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Human Rights Medal finalists announced

Commission Commission – General

The Australian Human Rights Commission has announced the finalists for the 2016 Human Rights Medal.

They are: mental health educator Ingrid Ozols; human rights advocate Dr John-Paul Sanggaran; the chair of the Lowitja Institute, Patricia Anderson AO; lawyer Deng Adut; and disability advocate Paul Nunnari.

“Each of these Human Rights Medal finalists have substantially contributed to the protection and advancement of human rights in Australia,” said Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs.

“I congratulate Ingrid Ozols, Dr John-Paul Sanggaran, Pat Anderson, Deng Adut and Paul Nunnari for raising awareness of the many human rights challenges faced by individuals and communities across Australia.

“At times it may seem as if these challenges are overwhelming. But as our Human Rights Medal finalists demonstrate, there are many practical things we can do and brave steps we can take to protect and advance the human rights of all Australians,” Professor Triggs said.

Ingrid Ozols is a mental health and suicide prevention advocate and educator. She is the founder and managing director of Mental Health at Work, a consultancy focussed on improving our understanding of mental health and building resilience in the workplace.

Ms Ozols has developed an online e- learning tool, mh @ work®, to help manage mental health issues in the workplace. This interactive program enables people to share experiences of mental illness and recovery, helping to change attitudes and workplace cultures. More than 200,000 employees have used mh @ work’s education tools and programs.

Ms Ozols has contributed to many Australian mental health boards, committees and advisory groups. She was the inaugural Chair of BlueVoices, beyondblue’s consumer arm; and a former board member of the Mental Health Council of Australia. Other memberships and advisory groups include the Royal Australian and New Zealand College Psychiatry and the General Practitioner’s Mental Health Standards Collaboration.

Dr John-Paul Sanggaran is a former Australian immigration detention doctor who risked prosecution under section 42 of the Border Force Act to bring to light human rights abuses within Australian immigration detention.

Dr Sanggaran is the co-author of Christmas Island Doctors of Concern, a 92-page letter signed by 15 doctors who practiced inside immigration detention on Christmas Island. The letter is a comprehensive account of the failings of medical procedure inside detention centres in Australia.

Dr Sanggaran has also campaigned extensively for ratification of OPCAT (the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture). He has worked within the medical and health sectors to forge a broad consensus for ratification of the protocol, and organised a petition nearing 10,000 signatures in support of this objective.

Pat Anderson AO is an Alyawarre woman, whose mother was one of the Stolen Generations. Ms Anderson grew up in Parap camp in Darwin, acutely aware from a very young age of the extreme forms of discrimination and racism experienced by Aboriginal people.

Ms Anderson is the Chair of the Lowitja Institute and co-chair of the Prime Minister’s Referendum Council. She has worked tirelessly to advance the rights and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, particularly in regards to education, health, early childhood development, and preventing violence against Aboriginal women and children.

Ms Anderson is also motivated by the need to create positive pathways for individuals and communities, based on culture, identity, health and wellbeing. She wants to change the narrative so that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples celebrate their successes and have agency and control over their lives.

Deng Adut is a lawyer and advocate for the rights of refugees and other vulnerable citizens.

Mr Adut came to Australia as 14-year-old refugee. He had been conscripted as a child soldier in South Sudan when he was six.  He never had an opportunity to go to school but he taught himself to read, write and speak English, and he won a scholarship to study law at the University of Western Sydney (UWS).

Mr Adut moved won national attention with his 2016 Australia Day address, and won more hearts and minds when a short video telling his life story went viral, attracting over 2.4 million views. He graduated from UWS with a Bachelor of Law in 2010 and went onto establish the AC Law Group in Blacktown with Joseph Correy.

Paul Nunnari is a disability advocate and former Paralympic athlete who chairs the City of Sydney Inclusion (Disability) Advisory Panel and is manager of Event Access and Inclusion with the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Mr Nunnari has worked over many years to increase opportunities for people with disability to participate in major and community events across NSW, and he played a key role in making the Sydney Harbour Bridge wheelchair-accessible (expected completion in 2017).

Mr Nunnari works directly with event organisers and planning agencies to coordinate strategies such as better transport and communication options, better disability awareness training for event staff, accessible viewing areas, captioning and audio description. He has helped ensure accessibility for major events including Sydney New Year’s Eve, Vivid Sydney, ANZAC Day, the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade and the Sydney City to Surf.

The 2016 Australian Human Rights Awards will be presented in Sydney on 9 December. Please join us.

Media contact: Dominic O’Grady 0419 258 597