The inspiring contributions of UTS staff and students towards making the world a better place were celebrated yesterday with the 2016 UTS Human Rights Awards.
Established in 1999, the awards are a highlight on the UTS calendar and reflect the University’s commitment to social justice, equality and human rights, and to the idea that as a university we have broader social responsibilities beyond our campus.
National Mental Health Commissioner and keynote speaker Professor Pat Dudgeon is project leader of the National Empowerment Project, an Indigenous suicide prevention project working with eleven Aboriginal communities across the country.
Professor Dudgeon reflected on the common themes that have arisen out of their research. Among them, the need for strong leadership in communities, control over the design and delivery of culturally appropriate programs and services including parenting training – particularly for Stolen Generations survivors, and esteem-building opportunities around employment and education.
“You can’t be wrong if you’re right,” she said. “You don’t stop fighting for justice simply because those around you don’t like it. Just keep on fighting.”
A dominant and topical theme throughout the nominations this year was the plight of refugees and those seeking asylum, including legal assistance, resettlement efforts and research to ensure businesses associated with detention camps are upholding human rights.
Other initiatives included work being done around the inclusion of marginalised communities, building social cohesion, awareness raising of gender diversity and people with a disability, Indigenous nation building, and making transitional justice work for women affected by violence.
UTS Shopfront took out the Vice-Chancellor’s Social Justice/ Human Rights Award for Staff for its sustained commitment to developing student citizenship and building capacity in community organisations. Over its 20 years, Shopfront has facilitated changes in public policy, law reform campaigns, and through research have given a voice to marginalised communities.
“UTS’s strength in practice-based education delivery and core social justice values made Shopfront a natural fit from day one, 20 years ago. We’re now the longest running – and arguably most successful – ongoing, transdisciplinary community engagement program in Australia, and that long–term investment says more about UTS’s real commitment to social justice than words,” says Community Engagement Coordinator for Shopfront, Lisa Andersen.
UTS is building on its commitment to social justice with the imminent establishment of a Social Impact Framework. The framework, to be made public shortly, will help measure the University’s social impact and guide future efforts.
The 2016 award winners were:
Vice-Chancellor’s Social Justice/Human Rights Award for Staff
UTS Shopfront is grounded in social responsibility at a grassroots level. Its activities include pairing UTS coursework students with community organisations to deliver sustainable outcomes; developing student citizenship through their SOUL Award and SOULstar programs; and their international peer-reviewed journal of community engagement, Gateways, which has a readership of 9000 across 120 countries. This year Shopfront celebrates its 20th birthday, recognising a sustained commitment to socially-engaged community activity for 4000 students and 800 community organisations.
Commendation: Louise Ryan. For her significant work in using mathematics and statistics to improve public health, and her passionate advocacy for racial, ethnic and gender diversity in higher education. Read more about Louise.
Jo Wilton Memorial Award for Women
Lucy Fiske was an integral part of a research project investigating the efficacy of transitional justice for women after mass violence. A collaboration with ActionAid and University of Sydney, the team travelled to urban and remote communities to listen to the experiences of over 300 women affected by violence. Over 150 key people in local and national justice systems were also interviewed. The results have produced reports, policy briefs, journal articles and a two-day global symposium, amplifying the views of these women most affected. Learn more.
High Commendation: Nina Burridge. For her sustained dedication to promoting and improving opportunities and access to education for women in Afghanistan.
Elizabeth Hastings Memorial Award for Student Contribution
Sayed Rahmatullah Hussainizada is building the capacity of those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to help them reach their full potential. The Afghan Fajar Association Incorporated, established by Sayed and his father, delivers much-needed programs each year. These include a leadership program and camp for migrant youth, a Dari language school, a learn-to-swim program and settlement support services for new arrivals.
High Commendation: Brynn O’Brien. For her significant contribution to the No Business in Abuse campaign, evaluating and promoting the obligation of businesses to uphold human rights. Read more about Brynn.
Commendation: Sarah Yahya. For her commitment to increasing the awareness and inclusion of marginalised people and communities. Read more about Sarah.
UTS Reconciliation Award
Awarded to Craig Longman and Larissa Behrendt. Fred Maynard: Aboriginal Patriot reveals the censored history surrounding the Australian Aboriginal Progressive Association, the first large scale Aboriginal rights movement, established by Fred Maynard in 1925. The biographical film highlights Maynard’s intellectual influences and the connections it had to other significant black rights movements.
Commendation: Alice McAuliffe. For raising awareness of Indigenous culture in the UTS community and building aspiration in Indigenous high school students through the UTS ART Indigenous Engagement Strategy
UTS Social Inclusion Award
With the impending demolition of UTS building 2, Daisy Amanaki liaised with the Cook Island community in Sydney, the Cook Island Department of Education and freight companies to organise fundraising and shipping of three containers of furniture and other educational items otherwise destined for landfill. 694 desks, 956 chairs, 30 white boards and 10 meeting tables were included in the shipping to the remote islands, significantly improving learning opportunities for children. Read more about Daisy.
UTS Creative Media Social Justice Award (joint recipients)
Five design students collaborated with Mums4Refugees, a grassroots community advocacy group, to create Our War on Women, an animation highlighting the distressing life of a mother in the Nauru detention camp. The animation, created by Jonty De Klerk, Lu Wang, Siqi Liu, Kenny Mak and Alysse Curran for Mums4Refugees through UTS Shopfront, is a powerful cry for empathy and humanity.
The digital archive, Sailing into Social Change, is a narration of the history behind Sailors with disABILITIES from 1994 to 2015. The volunteer non-profit organisation uses sailing to build the confidence of its nearly 4000 participants. The website, built by students Thomas Ricciardiello, Tania Andriasian, Sophia Lau, Elle McCalman and Vincent Salinos, includes a documentary created by them about the collaboration.
UTS Ally Award Celebrating And Supporting Sexual And Gender Diversity
Claire Pettigrew’s leadership and commitment have been instrumental in the development of Camp Out, a five-day safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual young people to come together. The organisation is entirely volunteer-run and funded and is guided by principles of self-determination, collaboration, diversity, inclusivity and empowerment.
High Commendation: Eamon Hayward, Andrea Rognstrand, Joel Ludemann and Zyralyn Bacani.
For Paint, an introspective and personal online project presenting drag as a liberating art form.