Celebrating the real heroes: Sydney Peace Foundation

Celebrating the real heroes: Sydney Peace Foundation

In this, its 25th year, the Sydney Peace Foundation feels more relevant than ever. The world is in conflict, with tensions on many fronts, and while the Sydney Peace Foundation does not engage in physical combat, it is helping to achieve resolution by supporting warriors of justice. 

A not-for-profit foundation of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney, the Sydney Peace Foundation was created by Emeritus Professor Stuart Rees in 1998. The globally renowned activist felt there was a need to honour outstanding social justice leaders the same way we honour those who excel in sports or entertainment.

To that end, Prof. Rees helped establish the Sydney Peace Prize, Australia’s only international prize for peace. Each year since its inception, the prize has been awarded to an individual (or movement) who has made an appreciable impact on world peace through their activities, communications, leadership or inspirational work. 

The prize comes with a trophy and $50,000 graciously provided by City of Sydney to assist with the winner’s cause. 

Past recipients are among the most celebrated names in the field including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein; and movements that effected change including Black Lives Matter, Me Too, and The Uluru Statement from the Heart. 

“It’s really identifying people who are changing the world, who are very brave in their actions but who are also inspiring people to act on issues of peace and social justice,” explains Melanie Morrison, co-director of Sydney Peace Foundation. 

Nominations for the prize are open to the public with a jury selecting the ultimate recipient. Nominees must demonstrate a significant contribution to: 

The achievement of peace with justice locally, nationally or internationally.

The promotion and attainment of human rights.

The philosophy, language and practice of nonviolence.

“With the Uluru Statement From The Heart last year, it was a time when there was massive support for the Uluru Statement and a great outpouring of goodwill for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to have an advisory, have a voice, and to be recognised in the constitution,” says Morrison. 

Prize recipients must be able to come to Sydney to accept the award, give a keynote lecture and take part in other events. In the case of a movement the duties may be fulfilled by a spokesperson or significant contributor, for instance, the Uluru Statement was represented by its three primary architects, Pat Anderson, Prof Megan Davis, Noel Pearson.

This year’s Sydney Peace Prize has been awarded to Iranian-born British actor and social justice advocate, Nazanin Boniadi. Boniadi has used her high profile and worked with a number of organisations to protest and raise awareness of injustices against young people, women, and those who dare speak against tyranny. 

After the appalling death of 22-year-old Iranian woman, Jina Mahsa Amini last year at the hands of the so-called morality police, Boniadi galvanised the #WomanLifeFreedom campaign, bringing attention to the plight of women in Iran.  

“You have to be very resilient to be a peace activist because there are always knock-backs — and it’s dangerous…with the WomanLifeFreedom movement it’s often fatal,” says Morrison, reflecting on the extraordinary bravery of women who campaign.

Boniadi will give the keynote address at a special ceremony this Thursday at Sydney Town Hall. The event also features a prestigious guest list of speakers including Dr Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who spent 800 days in an Iranian prison on false charges; Iranian-Australian author, Shokoofeh Azar; Gelareh Pour, an Iranian-born singer defying her country of birth where women are not allowed to sing; Sam Klintworth, national director of Amnesty International Australia; Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney; and social justice rap artist, Kween G Kibone.

The evening’s activities will be convened by popular ABC presenter, Jan Fran. 

Uncle Allen Madden will give the welcome to country and will be the only male to take the stage. 

This event, along with the Gala Dinner are the major fundraisers for Sydney Peace Foundation which otherwise relies on donations to keep going. Morrison strongly believes in the importance of the work they do and the need to continue. 

“Just raising the voices of people who speak out for truth and justice has an impact.”

2023 Sydney Peace Prize Award Ceremony and Lecture

Thursday November 2, 6:30pm

Sydney Town Hall, 483 George St, Sydney

Bookings: https://events.humanitix.com/2023-sydney-peace-prize-award-ceremony-and-lecture

You May Also Like

Comments are closed.