Community organisations dedicated to supporting the most vulnerable members of the LGBTI community were among a diverse mix of community members and groups honoured for their work in support of LGBTI communities at the Honour Awards in Sydney last night.
Hundreds of people and organisations from across NSW and Australia came together to celebrate the achievements of equality champions and unsung heroes, as well as the strength and resilience of the LGBTI community.
Now in their 11th year, the Honour Awards recognises outstanding achievements within, or contributions to, NSW’s LGBTI community. Attended by 350 community members, the awards also serve as a gala fundraising event for LGBTI charity Aurora and for ACON, NSW’s leading HIV support, HIV prevention and LGBTI health organisation.
The winners were selected from a diverse field of over 230 nominations and 28 finalists, and their awards were presented at a ceremony at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney. The event also raised thousands of dollars for LGBTI health initiatives supported by ACON and Aurora.
At a stressful time for LGBTI communities around the country, organisations dedicated to supporting, defending and fostering our diverse communities received the majority of the accolades.
Twenty10 incorporating GLCS NSW picked up the Health & Wellbeing Award for years of supporting and caring for young LGBTI people and their families, through the range of specialised services including counselling, mental health support, medical clinics, social groups, transitional housing and accommodation.
It’s second time lucky for Dowson Turco Lawyers who picked up the Business Award for being one of NSW’s leading LGBTI law practices; providing substantial pro bono work, community partnerships and support for key community organisations, and for their commitment to provide legal services that specialises in the needs of LGBTI people and their families.
Cultural icon of Sydney’s Inner-West, the community-owned and operated Red Rattler took out the Arts and Entertainment Award for creating a queer-based venue to showcase a truly diverse range of alternative Sydney arts, performance and grassroots activism for over nine years.
The Community Group Award went to Rainbow Families Inc., for being a strong voice for LGBTI parents and their children in NSW, providing strong advocacy, support and opportunities to celebrate all families within our communities.
Elaine Czulkowski was presented with the Community Hero Award for her over 20 years of LGBTI rights advocacy, including most recently her tireless efforts as a key campaigner, in both a volunteering and professional capacity, for Australian Marriage Equality.
Ms Czulkowski has also used her professional contacts and expertise to create networking and professional opportunities for emerging LGBTIQ professionals as a Board Member for Out for Australia. She has also volunteered as a Board Associate on Queer Screen's committee in 2014, making sure that this important LGBTIQ film festival has the support it needs to continue.
Advocate for LGBTI people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Mikhara Ramsing was the recipient of the Young Achiever Award for establishing a comprehensive range of social enterprises and community projects aimed towards improving the lives of ethnically, culturally and religiously diverse LGBTI people.
The ACON President’s Award went to The Kirby Institute and its founding director, Professor David Cooper AO, for over 30 years of life-changing research and work; establishing the evidence base for much of Australia’s HIV response.
For the first time there were joint winners in the Media category. Reporter for the ABC’s 7:30 Monique Shafter was recognised for her powerful and influential piece on the ABC's The Link on Peter ‘Bon’ Bonsall-Boone and his fight to expunge a second historical homosexual conviction dating back to the 1950s. Media outlet NT News was also recognised for its front page imploring the Federal Government to abandon its plan to force Australians to take part in a same-sex marriage postal survey.
Finally, Sydney artist Guy James Whitworth received the Cayte Latta Memorial Award for Visual Arts for various works exploring LGBTI culture and content including sexuality and identity.
ACON President Justin Koonin congratulated the winners and all the finalists on their achievements and community service.
“Last night’s event was a truly inspirational and thoroughly entertaining evening and a great celebration of the dynamic spirit of our community. I’d like to thank all the people who submitted nominations, our independent judging panel, as well as all our guests for coming along and supporting ACON and Aurora,” Mr Koonin said.
Aurora Chair Alison King extended her thanks to the event’s partners and supporters: “We thank our community and event partners Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, SBS, Merivale, Glyde Health, Stonewall Hotel, AIX wines, Biology skin care and Crowd Comms, as well as all the people, businesses and organisations that donated items for the silent auction.”
2017 HONOUR AWARDS – RECIPIENTS
COMMUNITY HERO (Presented by ACON)
Elaine Czulkowski: For her unwavering commitment to the LGBTI community spanning more than 20 years, which includes various positions at Australian Marriage Equality. In these roles, she has been instrumental in the ongoing campaign for equal rights by building awareness, fostering relationships, establishing corporate links, educating communities, organising events, selling merchandise and fundraising.
Professor David Cooper AO/The Kirby Institute: Established in 1986 in response to the emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic, The Kirby Institute’s world-leading research has played an instrumental role in how NSW – and Australia – became renowned for world’s best HIV/AIDS policy and health practice. Later it broadened its work to contribute to knowledge on a broad range of diseases, including viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections.
Since its establishment, The Kirby Institute has been led by Professor Cooper who, as director, has overseen and guided crucial research into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with the ultimate aim of reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS for affected communities. Through Professor Cooper’s leadership, The Kirby Institute has led national epidemiology and surveillance of HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and STIs, including the co-ordination and conduct of clinical trials of innovative therapies and vaccines for HIV, as well as other related clinical research.
Professor Cooper is also a consultant physician to the HIV/immunology infectious diseases clinical services unit at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, and is internationally renowned as being a leading HIV clinician and clinical investigator. Throughout his career, Professor Cooper has also been the President of the International AIDS Society and past Chairman of the World Health Organisation-UNAIDS HIV Vaccine Advisory Committee.
HEALTH & WELLBEING (Presented by GLYDE Health)
Twenty10 incorporating GLCS NSW: For supporting and caring for young LGBTI people and their families through the provision of a broad range of specialised services including counselling, mental health support, medical clinics, social groups, transitional housing and accommodation.
YOUNG ACHIEVER AWARD (Presented by SBS)
Mikhara Ramsing: For important advocacy for LGBTI people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds through the establishment of various social enterprises and community projects.
BUSINESS AWARD (Presented by Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association)
Dowson Turco Lawyers: For being one of NSW’s most LGBTI-engaged law practices through substantial pro bono work, community partnerships and direct donations to key organisations. The Newtown-based firm are steadfast in their commitment to provide legal services that specialises in the needs of LGBTI people and their families.
CAYTE LATTA MEMORIAL AWARD FOR VISUAL ARTS (Presented by Friends of Cayte)
Guy James Whitworth: Guy is a prolific artist whose work focuses on the queer community and identity. He has exhibited several exhibitions that explores gay culture over the years. Judges of the Cayte Latta Memorial Award for Visual Arts have selected Guy for his solo exhibition What Maketh A Man, which was shown at The Shop Gallery in Glebe in October last year.
ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT (Presented by Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras)
Red Rattler: For nine years of providing an inclusive and affordable performance and events space for the LGBTI community, and for supporting established and emerging LGBTI talent through diverse, creative and inspiring programming.
COMMUNITY ORGANISATION (Presented by Aurora Group)
Rainbow Families Inc.: For establishing NSW’s first peak advocacy group for children and families within the LGBTI community, and providing practical support, information and events for rainbow families.
MEDIA AWARD – JOINT WINNERS
Monique Schafter: For her powerful profile on Peter ‘Bon’ Bonsall-Boone and his fight to expunge a second historical homosexual conviction dating back to the 1950s, which later helped to clear Bon’s name just days before he passed away in May earlier this year. The story aired on the ABC's The Link and was just one of Monique’s many outstanding reports that brought LGBTI issues and stories to the fore on the national broadcaster.
NT News: For actively campaigning for the Federal Government to abandon a postal survey and legislate for marriage equality in a full front page – the first major state/territory newspaper to do so. It was seen by an estimated 2 million viewers on social media in 24 hours and became the most retweeted front page in Australia’s history. The print edition, distributed across vast swathes in the Northern Territory and its neighbouring islands, delivered the message of equality to some of the country’s most remote communities.
Media enquiries: David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications
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