There May Be Hope Yet

// Steph H - @lefthandedchimp //

Gillian Triggs is an exceptionally hopeful figure in politics right now. As a privileged Australian, I am continuously inspired by Triggs to utilise that privilege for the good of others. So much so that I nominated her for Australian of the Year.

Triggs represents what being Australian means to me, and she embodies this through her role as president of the Australian Human Rights Commission. Personally for me, she also emphasises how to not allow sexism to prevent me from achieving goals. That is why I nominated Gillian Triggs. Others don’t necessarily have to follow suit (there are many others out there doing wondrous things), but the reasons for which I did so are due to noticing wider trends. Let me explain.

Through putting forward investigations into human rights abuses at a time where Australia is failing the global community as a developed nation, Triggs demonstrates a strength in character that is unusual – and disappointingly so – for our time. Taking a stand against the government is a key element of this, as matters of human rights should not be brushed aside for momentary political gain.

While Gillian Triggs may be a personal hero, to Australia she represents qualities I believe we are close to losing entirely; characteristics such as fairness, looking out for the disadvantaged, and a healthy disrespect for authority. But apparently sometime recently, this rhetoric fell by the wayside in favour of a culture of entitlement, apathy and prejudice. I think it is about time we look towards people who represent our prior qualities.

Triggs has proven many times over that she is the right woman for the job, especially considering the continuous opposition from the current Australian government, of which some members appear to have developed a personal vendetta. And really, anyone who has to regularly rebut this guy to uphold the safety of human beings deserves to be recognised and even admired.

Triggs does her job in the face of some downright awful adversity. Some have been ‘concerned’ with the way that Ms Triggs apparently politicises the Commission. However, it is my understanding that anyone in a position of power should use their position to address wrongdoing – particularly when it is your job to do so. In light of this, claims of partisanship only serve to highlight that the current Australian government seems to think themselves above abiding by the universal understanding of human rights, and therefore beyond criticism.

If there are human rights abuses, the Commission should by all means be addressing them regardless of the perpetrators. If by doing her job it is revealed that politicians and public representatives are NOT doing their jobs, then this is a fantastic thing for the democracy of Australia.

Through our increasingly appalling treatment of refugees and migrants, attitudes towards students and the disadvantaged, we have lost our way. Only the honesty and dedication of individuals such as Triggs will serve to put us back on a path to being a respected nation. In an increasingly globalised world it is absolutely paramount that our government attend to international perceptions, laws, treaties, and protocols; human rights are imperative to showing the world we can lead the way and still be compassionate and just.

Now seems a perfect opportunity to ensure that the youth of Australia are shown individuals who are truly upholding what it means to be a just and fair Australian, but also those who have the confidence to stand up to anyone – even a government – in the name of what is right. If young Australians do not learn this, nobody learns the value of challenging others and ideas, which is a cornerstone of progress that we will ultimately lose. I hold so much hope that young Australians can become motivated to not only show awareness of their privilege, but to actively and positively utilise it. First though, they need to see others do so, so that they may learn how.

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