Leader of Good Sams wins 2013 Human Rights Medal

Ian Thorpe presents the 2013 Human Rights Medal to Sister Clare Condon Photo: Matthew Syres

Ian Thorpe presents the 2013 Human Rights Medal to Sister Clare Condon
Photo: Matthew Syres

Sister Clare Condon, Leader of the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, has won the 2013 Human Rights Medal.

Clare was presented with the award during a special event in Sydney last night, December 10, by 2012 Human Rights Medal winner, Ian Thorpe. The three other 2013 Medal finalists were Gurruwun (Yalmay) Yunupingu, Richard Frankland and Pastor Graham Long.

Addressing a very engaged audience of over 300 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Clare acknowledged the strong commitment to human rights of those present, especially the other award winners and finalists, and expressed how “very humbled and inadequate” she felt to receive the award in their midst.

“But on reflection, I do so on behalf of all my Sisters of the Good Samaritan who have served human rights in Australia for 156 years.”

In particular, Clare paid tribute to her sisters throughout Australia who visit asylum seekers and refugees in detention, who befriend and work alongside Indigenous people, who support women who are homeless or escaping domestic violence, and those who educate for justice.

“But most of all I think I receive [the award] on behalf of those sisters – some of them in their 80s – who befriend the stranger in their neighbourhood and, on a daily basis, respect the integrity and dignity of each person and of creation. And for those who live in the more remote areas of Australia, in Kiribati in the Pacific, and in Bacolod in the Philippines.

Human Rights Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs with Good Samaritan Sister Clare Condon Photo: Matthew Syres

Human Rights Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs with Good Samaritan Sister Clare Condon
Photo: Matthew Syres

“We are grassroots people; we’re ordinary people,” said Clare.

“I thank you for honouring the Sisters of the Good Samaritan this evening. May we continue to work for the dignity of every person that comes into our orbit here in Australia or elsewhere.”

Hosted by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the Human Rights Awards are held each year on International Human Rights Day – December 10 – to celebrate individuals, businesses and community organisations across Australia who have advanced human rights during the year.

The Human Rights Commission President, Professor Gillian Triggs, described Clare as a “woman of integrity, compassion and great fortitude”.

“Sister Clare has been with the Sisters of the Good Samaritan for about 40 years. During this time she has made a very significant contribution to human rights, modernising the Sisters of the Good Samaritan and broadening their human rights focus.

“Just one example is the housing support provided by the Sisters to victims of domestic violence. In the past few years, the Sisters have helped more than 5,000 women and children who have suffered domestic violence,” Professor Triggs said.

“She is never afraid to stand up for what she believes in, nor is she afraid to take her message directly to Government, relentlessly lobbying politicians to help those in need.”

Watch video highlights of the 2013 Human Rights Awards event here.

Ten human rights awards were presented during the evening. The 2013 award winners for other categories are:

Young People’s Medal: Mariah Kennedy
Mariah Kennedy 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.

Law Award: Professor Andrea Durbach
Professor Andrea Durbach is a member of the Faculty of Law at the University of New South Wales, and Director of the Human Rights Law Centre. Prior to joining UNSW, she spent 13 years at the Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC). Before coming to Australia, Professor Durbach, represented 25 black defendants in the notorious Upington death penalty case in South Africa.

Business Award: Freedom Housing
Freedom Housing allows people with disabilities and their families to live under the same roof in homes that are privately-owned or leased. Freedom Housing operates in line with the rights and values espoused in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Community Organisation Award: The National Centre of Indigenous Excellence
The National Centre for Indigenous Excellence provides a safe and innovative space for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to participate in life-changing programs.

Community Individual Award: Carolyn Frohmader
Carolyn Frohmader has made a significant contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights for women and girls with disabilities. She is executive director of Women With Disabilities Australia (WWDA).

Radio Award: Carol Dowling, Noongar Radio Perth, for The State of Our Children’s Hearing (30-part series)
Carol Dowling’s 30-part series highlights the prevalence of ear disease among Noongar communities in Western Australia.

Print and Online Media Award: Debra Jopson, The Global Mail, for Rock Art At Risk
Debra Jopson’s series investigates the demise of rock art sites across the nation. As a result of the articles, the NSW government took action to protect two rock art sites in the Blue Mountains.

Television Award: Naomi Chainey, Elvira Alic, Phineas Meere for No Limits
No Limits is a disability-focussed program that engages with current news and issues by hosting panel discussions, commentary and comedy. It has had a strong positive effect in giving people with disability a voice in the media.

Literature Award: Ranjana Srivastava for Dying for a Chat (Penguin Special).
Thanks to the stunning advances of modern medicine, life for many Australians is prolonged at all costs. But as Dying for a Chat shows, these life-saving measures can cause harm and suffering when used inappropriately.

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The Good Oil, December 11, 2013. If you would like to republish this article, please contact the editor.

24 Responses to “Leader of Good Sams wins 2013 Human Rights Medal”

  1. Rose says:

    Congratulations Sr. Clare, The Sisters of The Good Samaritan. Would truely like to see reporting of your significant award in the ‘secular’ press, even an article in a magazine about your wonderful work !

  2. Edwina says:

    Congratulations Sister Clare and all the Good Samaritan Sisters. Wonderful recognition for your outstanding service and care to all.

  3. pam barlow says:

    Congratulations Clare well deserved from Pam Barlow and the Benidictan group on Magnetic Island

  4. Gail Gill says:

    Congratulations Sr Clare and Good Sams! Wonderful that your leadership and the hard work of the Good Sam Sisters is acknowledged.Thank you for the inspiration to reach out to those who are very much strangers in our nation.

  5. elizabeth says:

    Congratulations Clare on being given this award and bringing so many other good news stories to us. Thanks for the care and lobbying and day to day care you give.

  6. Aileen Newton (O'Rourke) says:

    Congratulations Clare! I always new you and the Good Sams were goodies!
    Love and best wishes to all

  7. mschick says:

    Congratulations Clare! Well done. We are very proud of you and of our Congregation.
    Love from Marie Kelly and Maureen

  8. Patrick Mugavin says:

    Congratulations Clare for your leadership, and the work of the Good Samaritan Sisters. We in St Mary’s Parish, Hamilton, Vic, have been privileged and honoured to benefit from the ministry of the Good Sams over these past 92 years. They have left an indelible impression on the lives of so many, and still do. Sincere thanks, Paddy Mugavin.

  9. Pam Faulkner says:

    Congratulations Sister Clare and the Good Samaritan Sisters for your continual work in this demanding field and for living out St. Benedict’s Rule. Well deserved!

  10. Brian Sayner says:

    Congratulations Sister Clare and all Good Samaritans. Well deserved recognition.

  11. Paul Lentern says:

    Congratulations Clare and to all the Good Sams, a wonderful recognition for all the outstanding work. It was a delight to be there on the night and I feel privileged to share in this great endeavour. I pray for the day when humankind has grown sufficiently that awards such as these will no longer be needed.

  12. Congratulations Clare and the God Sam Sisters! This honour is well-deserved and gives courage to all those who continue to struggle for human rights, for justice and love.

  13. Graziella Rochecouste says:

    Congratulations Sr Clare and all the Good Samaritan Sisters.
    What an honour to be amongst such a great cause. Human rights is about befriending
    Our neighbour and equating freedom to standards where we can all feel loved respected and grow
    As an Oblate I thank you for enriching my life.God bless you all for your sacrifices and the people’s lives you touch, with the Ear of your heart.

  14. Susan Stubenrauch says:

    Congratulations Sister Clare and all of the Good Sams – this is a much deserved honour and acknowledges all the wonderful “every day ” work which is done by you all. I felt so proud to be an oblate when I saw the TV coverage as the award acknowledges all that you have done for so many years .

  15. Tom Sobb says:

    Clare, what a wonderful honour in receiving this award – congratulations to you and the other sisters. I have always been amazed with the approach, dedication and commitment of the Good Sams to human rights.

  16. Sarah Fraser O'Brien says:

    On behalf of the staff and volunteers at the Good Sams Foundation we congratulate Sr Clare on this wonderful, well deserved award.

  17. shirley Owen says:

    Congratulations Sister Clare. A timely recognition for your dedication and those of the Order of the Good Samaritan who show us all how to live Christ’s message of love for our neighbours.

  18. Terry Stephens says:

    Congratulations Clare, a wonderful testament to the work of the Good Sams – such an inspiring group of women.

  19. kathleen Baker says:

    Congratulations Sister Clare, I have been following you and the good sisters via email for some years and have personal experience of your, and their, kindness in times past. You always had a great gra for justice.
    Kind regards

  20. Theresa Schumacher says:

    Clare, you and your sisters have truly been leaders and companions on the path of universal human rights. Thanks for all you do and support for your country and for the world! Congratulations

  21. Denise Adams says:

    Congratulations Clare. A person of and for the people.

  22. Marie Mc Alister rsj says:

    Congratulations Clare, a well deserved honour for your great work.

  23. Peter Watson,Obl.OSB says:

    Congratulations,Sister Clare.

  24. Congratulations Clare! We rejoice with you receiving this award and honouring so many Good Sams who have been in the struggle for human rights in so many ways.

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