Australian Humanist of the Year (AHoY) 2000 to current

Awards overview    AHoY recipients 2000-2020    AHoY recipients 1980-1999    OHA recipients

Photo of Professor Gillian Triggs receiving Australian Humanist of the Year 2018 award
Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs receiving Australian Humanist of the Year 2018 award

Beginning in 1983, the humanist movement in Australia selects annually an Australian Humanist of the Year (AHoY). This award is given to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to public life, consistent with humanist principles and values. The award recipient is decided by State humanist societies with final endorsement by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies (CAHS). The annual AHoY Award assists in raising the profile of humanism in Australia by increasing public awareness of humanist values and activities.

To be nominated for the award, the person must display a reasoned and compassionate approach to human affairs, be a well-known public figure at either a state or national level and not be affiliated formally with a religious institution. Recent AHoY recipients include Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs, voluntary assisted dying advocate, Dr Rodney Syme, international human rights defender, Geoffrey Robertson AO and feminist and media commentator, Jane Caro. Below are listed the AHoY recipients from the year 2000 to the current year.

2018 : Professor Gillian TRIGGS, 1945–

Photo of Professor Gillian Triggs

In recognition of her fearless reasoned and compassionate approach to human rights in Australia, particularly her conduct of the National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention, which shone a spotlight on those whose plight is so often forgotten. Undaunted by political or career considerations Professor Triggs has been a steadfast voice for recognition and respect for the human rights of all people.

2017 : Dr Rodney SYME, 1935–

Photo of Dr Rodney Syme

In recognition of his sustained advocacy and well informed support for physician-assisted dying, despite being arrested and having a ban placed upon him by the Medical Board of Australia which was since overturned by a court ruling in December 2016.

2016 : John Anthony BELL, 1940–

Photo of John Bell

In recognition of his career in the performing arts in Australia and internationally as a Shakespearean actor and director; and for bringing the Humanist and secular aspects of Shakespeare’s works to public audiences.

Back to top

2015 : Dr Carmen Mary LAWRENCE, 1948–

Photo of Carmen Lawrence

In recognition of her timely research into fanatical ideas and extreme behaviour, along with her long-standing commitment to equity and social justice. In pursuing these ideals both as a parliamentarian and a researcher, Carmen has been an advocate for Indigenous Australians, women, education, environmental protection and asylum seekers.

2014 : Geoffrey Ronald ROBERTSON, 1946–

Photo of Geoffrey Robertson

In recognition of his outstanding work as a human rights lawyer and advocate, as expressed in his numerous writings and appearances in courts throughout the world. His outspokenness on crimes committed against children by the Catholic Church and other religious organisations has been particularly admired by Humanists.

2013 : Jane CARO, 1957–

Photo of Jane Caro

In recognition of her public advocacy of atheism, secularism and ethics as a product of informed and reasoned discussion. In espousing these core Humanist ideals, Jane has been outspoken on a wide range of issues, particularly equality for women and the need for high quality public education.

Back to top

2012 : Ronald WILLIAMS

Photo of Ronald Williams

In appreciation of Ron’s public stand for the principle of separation of church and state. Ron has initiated a challenge to the constitutional legality of Commonwealth Government funding for overtly religious purposes. In so doing, he has argued for the rights of public school students and their parents to be free from an inappropriate intrusion of religion into the secular space of public schooling.

2011 : Dr Leslie CANNOLD, 1965–

Photo of Dr Leslie Cannold

In recognition of her outstanding contribution to public debate on bio-ethics, especially issues affecting women and family life. She excels at presenting complex and controversial ideas with clarity. She is much appreciated by thinking people as a beacon of the well informed, reasoned argument in the media sea of misinformation.

2010 : Bob BROWN, 1944–

Photo of Bob Brown

In recognition of his years of outspoken advocacy for a secular, liberal democracy. By his passionate campaigning to save native forests and waterways from despoliation, he inspired countless young people to become politically involved. We commend his earnest commitment to the Humanist values of fairness, justice, common sense and compassion, and we welcome the enlightened stance he has taken on many controversial issues like voluntary euthanasia, same-sex rights and chaplaincies in schools.

Back to top

2009 : Kate DURHAM, 1957–

Photo of Kate Durham

In recognition of her dedicated support for human rights, through such practical assistance as the successful Spare Rooms for Refugees project, and by the use of her creative artistry with paint and film to show the often tragic consequences of human rights violations, such as the Tampa incident, which touched the consciences of Australians. This was a joint award with Julian Burnside.

2009 : Julian BURNSIDE, 1949–

Photo of Julian Burnside

In recognition of his active commitment to human rights, particularly his willingness to take on the cases of asylum seekers, pro bono, and his eloquent public advocacy of the rights of refugees. We commend him for his courageous public stand when championing human rights in Australia was at a very low point. This was a joint award with Kate Durham.

2008 : Lynette Fay ALLISON, 1946–

Photo of Lynette Allison

In recognition of her commitment as a vigorous and effective campaigner on public education, the environment, uranium mining and women’s issues. In all these areas Senator Allison has initiated significant legislative reform. Her respect for the democratic process and her constant emphasis on the secular character of our society show her to be an exemplary individual and a true Humanist.

Back to top

2007 : Dr Inga Vivienne CLENDINNEN, 1934–2016

Photo of Inga Clendinnen

In recognition of the humanistic influence of her lectures and writings dealing with the misunderstandings between colliding cultures; with gratitude for her astute observations and profound reflections on the human experience, strikingly expressed. She has drawn poignant lessons from the effects of European colonization on the American Maya and Aztec peoples and the indigenous people of Australia, as well as from the traumas of the Holocaust.

2006 : Peter CUNDALL, 1927–

Photo of Peter Cundall

In recognition of an exemplary Humanist whose personality is ever growing. Finding the horrors of war could be allayed by gardening, he became a landscape gardener, then gardening writer who spearheaded the organic food-growing movement, a champion of self-sufficiency, spreading through the media his encouraging message, ‘anyone can do this’. His boundless enthusiasm has brought many to appreciate nature and he is a persistent fighter both for the environment and for peace.

2005 : Dr Timothy Fridtjof FLANNERY, 1956–

Photo of Timothy Flannery

Scientist, explorer, discoverer of new species and writer of books imbued with his humanistic attitude. His evolutionary expertise has led him to propound bold and compelling views on population carrying capacity, immigration, the doctrine of ‘terra nullius’, indigenous understanding of the environment and the need for white Australians to face up to these issues.

Back to top

2004 : Professor Peter Albert David SINGER, 1946–

Photo of Professor Peter Singer

His work has furthered many Humanist causes by the use of logical argument, clear thinking, uncompromising commitment to consistency of thought, an unswerving reliance on democratic and civil libertarian processes of decision-making and a refusal to seek supernaturalist solutions to human problems.

2003 : Professor Alan Osborne TROUNSON, 1946–

Photo of Professor Alan Trounson

In recognition of his vigorous public advocacy of ethical research into early human development for therapeutic ends, and his stand against doctrinaire opposition to such work, being informed by his eminent achievements in the treatment of infertility and in techniques of stem cell development: a practical humanitarian.

2002 : Professor Donald Richmond HORNE, 1921–2005

Photo of Professor Donald Horne

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to humanism in action as a social critic and commentator on Australian society for more than fifty years. In particular for his strong advocacy of liberal democracy, multiculturalism, tolerance, republicanism and the recognition of indigenes as Australia’s first people.

2001 : Eric BOGLE, 1944–

Photo of Eric Bogle

In recognition of one of Australia’s best known and most decorated songwriters and performers, who has nationally and internationally captured the spirit of the Australian nation and advanced the ethos of Humanism through his perceptive and individual song writing with its exposure of racism, bigotry, war mongering and injustice of all kinds.

2000 : Professor Henry REYNOLDS, 1938–

Photo of Professor Henry Reynolds

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to Australian history, in particular his research which significantly revises our knowledge of British Colonial policy on native land rights. As a valued consultant to governments, media and community groups, both in Australia and overseas, he has contributed to a profound change in the way the history of the relations between indigenous and other Australians are understood.

Back to top

Awards overview    AHoY recipients 2000-2020    AHoY recipients 1980-1999    OHA recipients

Share/Like this page:
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •