Media Release by Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells

Young People’s Human Rights Medal winner 2013

The Australian Human Rights Commission established the Human Rights Medal in 1987 to be presented annually in recognition of outstanding personal endeavour in the cause of human rights.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Social Services, Senator the Honourable Concetta Fierravanti-Wells announced the winner of the 2013 Young People’s Human Rights Medal at the Human Rights Awards in Sydney on 10 December 2013.

The Young People’s Human Rights Medal category, sponsored by the Department of Social Services, is awarded to an individual who is under the age of 25 years and who has made an outstanding contribution to advancing human rights in Australia.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells said “Five talented and inspirational young Australians were shortlisted for this year’s medal. Between them they have found ways to provide volunteer tutors to West Australian rural and indigenous students, published or spoken about personal stories to encourage others to speak out against human rights abuses and provided people with disabilities from multicultural backgrounds the opportunity for artistic expression.”

“I was very pleased to present the 2013 medal to Mariah Kennedy. As outlined in her nomination Mariah is a Young Ambassador for UNICEF and the author of the children’s book, Reaching Out, Messages of Hope. At just 16 years of age, Mariah approached some of Australia’s best loved children’s authors and illustrators for contributions to the book, which addresses social justice issues such as child labour, refugee rights and global poverty. In June 2013, Mariah’s extraordinary anthology was published by Harper Collins with all proceeds going to UNICEF. Mariah compiled this book with the aim that other young Australians like herself will read the stories and become human rights advocates.”

“In accepting her award last night Mariah was also an inspiration to those who heard her talk about the importance of people working together, no matter their differences.”

“I would also like to congratulate the category finalists – David Sherwood, Yarrie Bangura, Patrick and Lesley Francis.”

“These young people are the future of Australia. While they are just embarking on life’s journey they have already made important contributions to our community and made a difference to improving human rights.”

Senator Fierravanti-Wells concluded: “For advancing and protecting human rights they are to be applauded and I look forward to hearing more of their achievements in the future.”

For information on the awards, see