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ALSWA named as finalist for 2023 Australian Human Rights Awards

Joseph Guenzler -

The Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia has been named a finalist in the 2023 Australian Human Rights Commission Awards.

Nominated in the Law Award category, the Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia (ALSWA) expressed its deep appreciation for the recognition.

"We don't undertake this work for the accolades, we strive for justice for our most marginalised people so that we can make a difference in the lives of First Nations Peoples," said Noongar man and ALSWA CEO, Wayne Nannup.

"Unless you work in this, or other social justice fields, it's difficult to comprehend just how tough people are doing it."

A significant achievement for ALSWA was their successful litigation in the WA Supreme Court concerning the conditions faced by young people in Banksia Hill Detention Centre and Unit 18 at Casuarina Prison.

The victory highlights the dedication of ALSWA's legal team and their unwavering commitment to safeguarding the human rights of the most vulnerable in society.

"We embrace a human rights approach in all that we do, whether that's supporting and representing our people within the justice system, advocating for the age of criminal responsibility to be raised, speaking out at the Disability Royal Commission, or representing young people who are currently held in Banksia Hill or Unit 18 of the maximum-security Casuarina Prison," said Mr Nannup.

The winners of the AHRC Awards will be announced during the Awards Ceremony at UTS Great Hall in Sydney on December 8.

The 21 finalists were chosen from a pool of more than 260 nominations spanning five categories, which include the esteemed Australian Human Rights Medal, a tradition upheld since the award's establishment in 1987.

This occasion falls just two days before International Human Rights Day on December 10 and will serve as a tribute to all the finalists and nominees.

2023 Australian Human Rights Commission Awards

Human Rights Medal | presented by AHRC + Paul Ramsay Foundation

Mechelle Turvey (WA): for working towards long-term, systemic change for victims of crime following the tragic death of her son Cassius in late 2022.

Juliana Nkrumah AM (NSW): for providing more than 30 years of service to advancing human rights in Australia's multicultural communities, especially in relation to gender equity and women's safety.

Dr Daniel Nour (NSW): for founding and leading Side Street Medics, a volunteer-operated mobile medical service specifically created to provide care and support for people experiencing homelessness.

Dr Helen Watchirs OAM (ACT): for more than 40 years of service as one of Australia's strongest advocates for human rights, leading to significant law reform in the areas of anti-terrorism, discrimination, mental health, guardianship, tenancy, and criminal legislation.

Law Award | presented by AHRC + LexisNexis Australia

Economic Justice Australia (National): for defending the social security rights of people across Australia for more than 30 years – including in relation to the recent Robodebt scandal – and advocating for a more effective, equitable and accessible social security system for Australia.

David Barnden (NSW): for leading the approach of his firm Equity Generation Lawyers to combatting climate change through innovative, first-of-their-kind legal actions which develop Australia's common law and create novel paths for addressing climate-related risks and damage.

Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia (WA): for over 50 years of service to First Nations people and communities in WA by providing legal expertise, community empowerment, advocacy for systemic change, and a culturally sensitive approach. ALSWA's recent work in relation to youth justice has been particularly impactful.

Human Rights for All (NSW): for outstanding work in relation to obtaining liberty for asylum seekers, refugees and stateless persons held in onshore Australian detention – especially those from marginalised communities – by promoting and protecting human rights through legal action, advocacy and education.

Media & Creative Industries Award | presented by AHRC + Creative Australia

Insight | SBS TV (National): for consistently delivering sensitive, empathetic and inclusive discussions across a broad range of often challenging topics.

Northern Pictures (NSW): for producing powerful and inspirational stories and screen content (eg: Love On The Spectrum, Employable Me) which spotlight and humanise under-represented people and communities.

Common Ground (VIC): for an outstanding approach and commitment to producing innovative and unique content which centres First Nations storytellers and communities in the digital space.

Anne Connolly (NSW): for her work as an impactful, change making investigative journalist who shines a light on human rights issues that are often unacknowledged or underreported.

Community Award | presented by AHRC + Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia

Square Peg Round Whole (WA): for outstanding volunteer-led work in relation to providing information about and advocating for inclusive education for neurodivergent children.

Advocacy Tasmania (TAS): for more than 30 years of working to improve and restore human rights for Tasmanians and the broader community by providing individual advocacy, pursuing systemic change and providing education.

Equality Australia and Sydney WorldPride (NSW): for supercharging the knowledge, skills and networks of 3200 LGBTIQA+ activists from around the world by delivering the 3-day Sydney WorldPride Human Rights Conference in March 2023, one of largest international LGBTQIA+ human rights conferences ever held.

Sisters Inside (QLD): for outstanding work in relation to advocating for the rights of women and girls who are currently or have previously been in prison in Queensland, as well as supporting them to live safely and violence-free in prison and in the community when they leave prison.

Young People's Award | presented by the EU Delegation to Australia

Gabriel Osborne (WA): for exceptional and courageous advocacy for LGBTIQA+ survivors of institutional abuse and conversion practices.

Sarah Williams (NSW): for outstanding advocacy and support for victims and survivors of sexual assault, especially as the founder of the What Were You Wearing project.

Zahra Al Hilaly (WA): for exceptional advocacy in relation to the human rights and gender equity of young people in Australia and across the Asia Pacific, especially young people from refugee backgrounds.

Maggie Blanden & Keshi Moore (VIC): for their outstanding work through Naarm Law Students on Voice to framing First Nations social justice issues using a human rights perspective and for addressing misinformation and disinformation about the Voice referendum across multiple youth-oriented platforms.

Tickets start at $40 and include all drinks, canapes, and entertainment.

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