• Pat Anderson AO (left) with Professor Gillian Triggs, after being presented with the Human Rights Medal from the Human Rights Commission. (Australian Human Rights Commission)
A lifetime committed to advocating for the rights and welfare of Aboriginal and Torres Strait has earned Pat Anderson AO the 2016 Human Rights Medal presented on Friday by the Australian Human Rights Commission.
By
Karina Marlow

12 Dec 2016 - 1:50 PM  UPDATED 12 Dec 2016 - 1:50 PM

The Alyawarre woman is the current Chair of the Lowitja Institute and co-chair of the Prime Minister's Referendum Council. In these roles and through her long-time involvement in Indigenous organisations, she was recognised for making a strong contribution to advancing the rights of Indigenous Australians, particularly with in regard to education, health, early childhood development, and violence against women and children.

The President of the Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs said “Over the years, she has used her skills to drive better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with her sharp strategic mind, a great warmth and sense of humour.

“She is sister, grandmother and aunty to many members of her community. Throughout her career she has been driven by the desire to celebrate success and help nurture the possibility of fulfilment in young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.”

Ms Anderson gratefully received the award and said “I am honoured to receive the Human Rights Medal 2016 particularly in such a strong field of co-finalists. I take this opportunity to celebrate the contribution, large and small, that many people around the country make every day to their communities.”

She also commented on the impact of growing up in Parap camp in Dawin, where she encountered the discrimination and racism experienced by Aboriginal people.

“Growing up closely with the women and families in the camp had a profound impact on me, that’s where my lifelong commitment to establishing the rightful place of Australia’s First Peoples as equal partners in our society was born,” she said.

“That commitment, and the rights of women and children everywhere, have been central to my career and much of my personal life.”

Professor Triggs specifically commended Pat Anderson for her work with the Lowitja Institute, and their innovative methods to build collaborative, evidence-based research partnerships into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.

The Institute is working with partners from government departments and academic institutions across the country to lead a reform agenda in the effort to close the gap in health outcomes between Indigenous and other Australians.

Lowitja Institute CEO, Mr Romlie Mokak told First Nations Telegraph, “As an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander organisation working for the health and wellbeing for Australia’s First Peoples, we are privileged to have Ms Anderson’s wisdom and experience in advocacy, collaboration and governance lead our Board.”

In 2014, Ms Anderson was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for her distinguished service to the Indigenous community as a social justice advocate.