Jodie and I were proud to be invited and to attend the 2017 Australians of the Year: Inspiring Change in Human Rights event, at the Sydney Town Hall.
The night kicked off with Prof. Gillian Triggs. She delivered, what she said, was her final speech as her term ends as President of the Australian Human Rights Commission. I have listened to her speak many times and I am a little sad as she really had a tree shaking approach to her role and, I for one, believe she established a guide for effective improvement in our human rights agenda, I hope this path will empower the next president.
Kumi Taguchi hosted the evening introducing guest speakers, Australians of the Year from all over Australia, Deng Adut, Andrea Mason, Jason Ball and Yasmin Khan. Many questions were asked however one question posed by Kumi to all the guests challenged the responses and resonated with me. I do paraphrase, ‘Many things have changed in Australia with regards to Human Rights, Safety and Inclusion in the last 40 years, what do we want Australia to look like 40 years in the future with regard to these issues we face today will face into the future.’
The answers were powerful however the overview was a feeling that as much as things change, we are in danger of repeating the past regarding, immigration, racism, domestic and family violence and inequality. Legislation based on fear and exclusion cannot be our future. Australia is the lucky country, we need to be educating not legislating. Our exclusion of anyone from our society should be based on their individual behaviour not general exclusion because of race, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation. If we can grow and not slip backwards Australia in 40 years will be a country where everyone’s voice is listened to and every Australian has value.
That was a simplification of all the wonderful comments but I’d love my family to live in that country in 40 years time. The guests were great but as always you have favourites, for me Jason Ball and Yasmin Khan showed their vision beautifully. Great night, great discussion and a vision for the future of Australian Human Rights.
For more information on the Australian Human Rights Commission and upcoming events visit https://www.humanrights.gov.au
Shi Gong Chris