Liberty Victoria is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2023 Voltaire Human Rights Award is human rights and Raise the Age advocate Sophie Trevitt.
The Voltaire Human Rights Award honours a person who has made an outstanding contribution to human rights, free speech, and/or civil liberties, with particular emphasis on progressing freedom, respect, equality, dignity, and action.
Ms. Trevitt, aged 32 and based in Canberra, has been selected as this year’s award winner for her outstanding advocacy to promote and protect human rights, especially her work to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
Ms. Trevitt has been instrumental in the #RaiseTheAge campaign, with her efforts resulting in commitments from the governments of the ACT, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and Victoria to increase either the minimum age of criminal responsibility or the minimum age for detention.
Last year, Ms Trevitt was diagnosed with brain cancer. Despite battling her own serious health issues, Ms. Trevitt has maintained her powerful advocacy. Ms. Trevitt recently reflected on her advocacy work and her personal circumstances for the Guardian: “Not caging children under 14 is the bare minimum we can do to not torture kids”, and for Riotact: “Banning spit hoods, raising the age of criminal responsibility are first steps to supporting our kids”.
Ms. Trevitt was the Executive Officer of Change the Record, Australia’s only First Nations-led coalition of legal, health, and family violence prevention experts campaigning to end the incarceration of, and family violence against, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Ms. Trevitt was also the ACT Co-Chair of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights.
Ms. Trevitt has held senior advisory roles for Federal and ACT politicians, coordinated dozens of national and local social justice campaigns, and has won profound and widespread admiration and respect for her role as a community lawyer. Ms. Trevitt worked in Alice Springs managing the youth, police, and prison accountability civil practice for the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency and represented children suffering abuse in the Alice Springs Youth Detention Centre and the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre in Darwin.
Liberty Victoria President Michael Stanton congratulated Ms. Trevitt on her incredible contribution towards advancing human rights for every member of our community:
“Sophie is an inspiration to all of us and is a well-deserving winner of this year’s Voltaire Human Rights Award. We are pleased to recognise Sophie’s dynamic advocacy, her ability to build a powerful coalition from across the political spectrum, and her tireless commitment to protecting children from the harm caused by detention,” Mr. Stanton said.
Quotes attributable to Sophie Trevitt:
“I have had the privilege and the pain of working with the grandmothers of tiny children who have been denied decent housing and mental health care due to government neglect and have been criminalised and locked away instead.
“Commitments to raise the age in several jurisdictions are an important step forward, but no one could consider the job done while there are still children suffering behind bars.
“Receiving Liberty Victoria’s Voltaire Human Rights Award is a reflection of the decades of work families, communities, doctors, teachers, and youth workers have invested in these young people and their futures.
“I received the Liberty Victoria Voltaire Human Rights Award in large part because of the extraordinary work of Change the Record, an Aboriginal-led policy and advocacy organisation I was privileged to be a part of.”
The Voltaire Human Rights Awards Dinner will be held at the Sofitel Melbourne on Friday 10 November 2023.
Tickets, with an early bird discount, are available here: https://www.trybooking.com/events/landing/1065664?eid=106566