Advocate for LGBTI people takes out 2015 Tim McCoy Award

November 12, 2015 |

Anna Brown has won the 2015 Tim McCoy Award for outstanding work to promote and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Victoria, Australia and worldwide.

Anna was one of the State finalists for Australian of the Year for 2016. The Australian of the Year website says it all: ‘An unsung hero in the fight to advance equality, Anna Brown’s fingerprints are on almost every recent legal and political win for Australia’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community’.

‘I am very honoured and delighted to receive this award. We still have a long way to go but it’s been a privilege to have worked with incredible advocates, lawyers and clients on really exciting and rewarding projects to advance LGBTI equality,’ Anna said today.

From the successful bid to erase unjust historical criminal records for homosexual conduct to the fight for legal recognition of gender diversity, Anna has been at the centre of almost every advance in LGBTI rights in recent years.

Anna played a lead role in securing Federal discrimination laws to protect LGBTI people, achieved an historic apology from Victoria Police for the raid on the Tasty nightclub, and led strategic litigation to advance marriage equality and recognise gender diversity. Anna also spearheaded the ‘No to Homophobia’ campaign, working closely with the Australian Football League and other sporting codes to stamp out prejudice.

Over the last three years, Anna has also been active in an international campaign for the UN Human Rights Council to condemn violence and discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. This culminated in the adoption of a landmark resolution by the Council last year.

‘The dinner set up to honour Tim’s memory has become a really important tradition in Victoria and it was great to come together on Friday night and celebrate the community law and legal aid movement with so many like-minded people doing fantastic social justice work,’ Anna said.

Other nominees were:

  • Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, for its commitment, perseverance and impact in the area of refugee rights for over 10 years, building and mobilising a broad-based refugee movement in a politically hostile environment.
  • Human Rights Law Centre, for its effective advocacy work on a range of national and international issues, and in particular in 2015 for promoting safe access to abortion clinics for women, defending the human rights of asylum seekers & refugees, and advocating for Lesbian, Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex equality.
  • The ‘Why didn’t you ask?’ project of Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre, for its response to the needs of women who are at risk of, or experiencing, family violence in Central Victoria. The project resulted in improved the safety, social and health outcomes for women at risk of, or experiencing, family violence across the region.
  • The Federation of Community Legal Centres, for successful advocacy for Victorian community legal centres, in the face of significant threats to the funding of legal centres over the last three years.
  • Consumer Action Law Centre, for its community education and advocacy work to prevent unfair ‘fines’ by private car parks. Their advocacy resulted in the Victorian Government adopting Consumer Action’s proposal to prevent private car park operators from obtaining drivers’ personal details from VicRoads.
  • Job Watch, for its landmark case in the Fair Work Commission, which raised the issue of employer responsibilities when dealing with the complexity of family violence, where a client had been dismissed on the basis that it would not be ‘nice’ for her to work with her former violent partner. Job Watch’s client won her unfair dismissal claim and was awarded six months wages as compensation.
  • Dr Chris Atmore, for her tireless work in the community legal sector for many years on family violence and law reform, which now includes her new role co-leading the Victorian Family Violence Justice Alliance and the Australian Inquest Alliance.
  • The Taxi Driver Legal Service – West Justice (previously Footscray Community Legal Centre), in recognition of significant achievements and real impact in a short time through a range of systemic reforms to better protect the drivers. It is community legal centre integrated casework and law reform advocacy at its best.
  • Health Justice Partnerships for their innovative service delivery approaches for legal assistance services. Partnerships recognise that many legal conflicts manifest as health issues requiring health and legal service providers working together to assist service users. The model’s success has seen significant funding from both State and Federal governments in the last two years.

The Award was presented at the 28th Annual Tim McCoy Dinner, held on Friday 6 November 2015 at Richmond Town Hall.