Australian Humanist of the Year 2018: Gillian Triggs

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

Emeritus Professor Gillian Triggs, former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission, has been awarded this year’s title of Australian Humanist of the Year (AHOY) by the Council of Australian Humanist Societies (CAHS).

Professor Triggs’ award is 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. Her resolute consistency of purpose is an example to each of us.

As reported by United Nations special rapporteur Michel Forst, Gillian Triggs faced “government intimidation and public questioning of her integrity, impartiality and judgment” after her inquiry reported. She engaged fearlessly in public debate to ensure that the situation of these children not be continually ignored and forgotten. Gillian Triggs declared she would not be able to live with herself if she wasted her remaining opportunities to speak up nationally and internationally.

CAHS President Lyndon Storey said: “We’re delighted to present this award to someone who’s done so much to advance the cause of human rights in Australia.? The opposition Professor Triggs  received shows how many strides Australia still needs to make before we can claim a ‘human rights’ culture with equal respect and dignity for all. The Australian Humanist movement supports the ongoing struggle to improve respect for human rights in Australia. Gillian Triggs’ unflinching support for human rights exemplifies a Humanist approach, putting principle before popularity and relying on reason and calm persuasion to appeal to the best of our humanity.”

Professor Triggs said “It is especially important in this age of ‘post truth’ and ‘false news’ that we all speak up for fundamental common law protections for humanity”.

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