Bandler's 1997 human rights award

The Australian Financial Review | 11 December 1997


The cover of The Australian Financial Review Magazine, April 1997

THE THEMES of reconciliation and the stolen generation dominated yesterday's 1997 Human Rights awards, with the top honour going to activist for Aboriginal rights, Dr Faith Bandler.


Dr Bandler, who was at the forefront of the 1967 referendum campaign, was given the human rights medal for her 40 years of consistent work dedicated towards improving conditions and opportunities for indigenous Australians.


When accepting the award from the Governor-General, Sir William Deane, in Sydney Dr Bandler spoke against "the continued plunder of the people's land and the people's culture". She said it was time to arouse the indignation of Australians to the stalling of the reconciliation process.


The awards, by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, also recognised the contribution of activists, artists and the media working for the rights of indigenous people.


The corporate human rights award went to Coles Myer for a program to eliminate harassment in the workplace.


Writer Wilson da Silva shared the print media human rights award for the cover story of The Australian Financial Review Magazine's April 1997 edition. Da Silva's story 'The Politics of the Prize' dealt with Australia's reaction to Jose Ramos Horta's winning of the Nobel Peace Prize.

The judges were impressed by the elegance of the writing, the tenacity the author showed and his sense of proportion.

The judges said that da Silva's story demonstrated that an event as significant as the awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to an Australian resident could receive so little attention or recognition. The judges were impressed by the elegance of the writing, the tenacity the author showed and his sense of proportion.


Wilson da Silva's story 'The Politics of the Prize', in The Australian Financial Review Magazine's April 1997 edition, dealt with Australia's reaction to Jose Ramos Horta's winning of the Nobel Peace Prize

The judges said that da Silva's story demonstrated that an event as significant as the awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to an Australian resident could receive so little attention or recognition. The judges were impressed by the elegance of the writing, the tenacity the author showed and his sense of proportion.


The award was shared with Gary Hughes and Gerard Ryle of The Age, whose story 'Suffer the Children' exposed the use of medical experimentation on people in Victorian institutions in the 1930s and 1940s.


The awards, on the anniversary of the international declaration of human rights, was an opportunity to reflect about the achievements of human rights, Sir William said.


"We must inevitably recognise that to a significant extent the aspirations of that declaration have not been completely fulfilled even in this country as regards the most vulnerable and disadvantaged."


Sir William singled out unemployment, the plight of the homeless and the difference in life expectancy between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians as proof fundamental human rights were not yet enjoyed by all Australians.

This news story originally appeared in The Australian Financial Review on 11 December 1997. You can read the winning entry, "The Politics of the Prize" here.

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