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A Just Australian of the Year Award Winners

A Just Australian of the Year Award Winners

>From each State, from all walks of life, outstanding Australians were honoured today for their contribution to building a just Australia for refugees and asylum seekers.

At a gala fundraising dinner at Sydney's Darling Harbour, hosted by Claudia Karvan and Santo Cilauro, ten awards were made, celebrating the achievements of the famous and not so famous supporters of the campaign for a just refugee program. Awards were made in response to public nominations called for in January.

Award winners are:

· Suzanne Tzannes, New South Wales, psychotherapist, for commitment to the healing of asylum seekers from the trauma of detention in Villawood

· Camilla Cowley, Queensland, Coach and Manager of the Tiger 11 Soccer team of young Afghan refugees

· The Launceston Community, Tasmania, for rallying behind the Sawari family, wrongly detained in a bureaucratic intrigue

· Tom Mann, South Australia, for work with the Gawler Refugee Association for over twenty years

· Lowitja O'Donoghue and Stephen Watkins, South Australia, for providing a family support structure for young Afghan refugees in Adelaide

· Tony Kevin, ACT, and Marg Hutton, Victoria, for the continued investigation into the SIEV X disaster

· Coalition for Asylum Seekers, Refugees and Detainees, Western Australia, for welcoming and housing hundreds of refugees released from detention

Awards were also made to Phillip Adams, Julian Burnside and Malcolm Fraser for their continued efforts in calling Australians to action.

"Standing against this treatment of our fellow human beings is not always easy or popular, and we celebrate those who set a great example for us to follow," said Howard Glenn, National Director of A Just Australia.

"Bad politics has created a refugee crisis out of what is normally a manageable challenge. The Government could take three simple steps to take the heat out of the issue quickly, and stop damaging so many people's lives.

"We urge John Howard to make the right choice now with three simple steps:

· provide permanent protection for proven refugees, with assistance to return home on a voluntary basis;

· introduce a process for humanitarian visas or solutions for those stuck in the limbo of long term detention; and

· immediately release children and their families into the community.

"To do otherwise is to choose continuing suffering and community conflict.

"The support for organisations like ours continues to grow, and tonight we celebrate the generosity of thousands of Australians," Mr Glenn said.

© Scoop Media

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