Thousands of people gathered at Sydney Town Hall on Wednesday 14 June to hear Professor Gillian Triggs give her final speech before stepping down as the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

The event also consisted of panel discussion between four Australians of the Year who shared their inspiring stories and passions around human rights issues.

Panelists included Deng Adut, 2017 NSW Australian of the Year; Jason Ball, 2017 VIC Young Australian of the Year; Yasmin Khan, 2017 QLD Local Hero and Andrea Mason, 2017 NT Australian of the Year.

The event was hosted by ABC TV‘s Kumi Taguchi who is the current host of ABC’s Compass. Kumi is known for her empathy and inquisitive nature, always focussing on the human side of a story.

The panel discussed how to bring Australians together around a range of hotly debated social issues.

Professor Triggs addressed the panelists in her speech and their contribution to human rights: “As our national anthem says, “Advance Australia fair”.  The ideas of social justice and  the rule of law underpin our democracy and national values and as a nation we are prepared to stand up for them. When each year I watch the acceptance speeches by the Australians of the Year, I am struck by the fact that each of them in one way or another speaks up for human rights and fairness. I admire them enormously because they act upon their values and give their lives to achieving social justice.”

Thousands of Sydney Siders packed out the beautiful and historic Town Hall. The event was free of charge to the public.

“Thank you to the Australia Day Council for the chance to speak to you all … for this is my last public speech before stepping down as President of the AHRC and I can think of no better place than the Sydney Town Hall to thank the Australian public for their spirited support for human rights and for the work of the Human Rights Commission.

Ultimately, respect for human rights depends upon you, the people of Sydney and the whole Australian community.

I leave the Commission in the safe hands of my colleagues and staff, including the commissioners for sex, race, children, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, disabilities and general human rights, who are advocating for the rights and freedoms of all Australians.” said Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Australian Human Rights Commission.