The National Indigenous Human Rights Awards (NIHRA), in its second year, was held again at NSW Parliament Wednesday evening in October. These truly national awards recognise and acknowledge the most important social justice struggle in Australia – that of the Aboriginal rights struggle.
The NIHRA are Australia’s only all dedicated Aboriginal and Torres Strait human rights awards. The NIHRA constitute three awards:
- The Dr Yunupingu Award for Human Rights
- The Eddie Mabo Social Justice Award
- The Anthony Mundine Courage Award
Last year, the presenters of the awards were Yalmay Yunupingu, Gail Mabo and Anthony Mundine. The inaugural recipient of the Dr Yunupingu Award for Human Rights was Arrernte Elder, Rosalie Kunoth-Monks. Ms Monks went on to become Northern Territorian Australian of the Year and this year’s NAIDOC Female Person of the Year.
This year’s keynote speech was presented by South Australia’s Narungga Elder and 2015 NAIDOC Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Tauto Sansbury. The MC was SBS journalist, Arrernte woman Karla Grant.
Mr Sansbury said, “I was born into a mission, we lived by the bell, we were brought up in injustices, denied our languages and identities. I was brutalised in a boys’ home and the effects are lifelong. Ever since I have been working for the rights of my people, which to this day have not arrived and the fight continues on.”
The two Gold sponsors of this year’s awards are the National Rugby League (NRL) and The founder of the NIHRA is NSW parliamentarian, the Hon. Shaoquett Moselmane who in 2012 also launched the Multicultural and Indigenous Media Awards.
“There is no more significant and important struggle in this nation’s more recent history than the Aboriginal rights struggle. It defines who we are because it is the struggle of right verses wrong, the overcoming of adversity and injustice and in turn not only speaks to the nation but defines the nation – and who we all are and should be,” said Mr Moselmane.
“These awards recognise the history and ongoing nature of the Aboriginal rights struggle – they are judged by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, presented by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, awarded to the champions of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights struggle – to those who are showing us the way.”
This year’s recipients:
- Dr Yunupingu Human Rights Award – Tauto Sansbury
- Eddie Mabo Social Justice Award – Jenny Munro
- Anthony Mundine Courage Award – Adam Goodes
Federal Shadow Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Shayne Neumann congratulated the award recipients, who are personally invested in improving social justice, fighting racism and closing the inequality gap for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
“They are role models for younger generations of Indigenous people and their work is making a difference in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people throughout Australia,” said Mr Neumann.
Karla Grant said, “It was a great honour hosting the 2nd National Indigenous Human Rights Awards as I believe these awards go a long way in recognising the significant contributions made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within human rights and social justice for our people. All of the awards presented last night went to very deserving recipients and it is fitting that Adam Goodes, Tauto Sansbury and Jenny Munro are all recognised for the difference they are making to the lives of Indigenous Deputy Opposition Leader Linda Burney said that the Awards are a wonderful opportunity to pay tribute to just a few of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who make such a valuable contribution to the community.
“Indigenous people make such a valuable contribution to our community, it is so important to have an event to recognise this. I want to extend my thanks to the organisers, attendees and of course the winners of these awards,” Ms Burney said.