Media Release

November 25, 2011

Stephen Mayne, Project Respect and Animals Australia announced 2011 winners

One of Australia's best known advocates, Stephen Mayne, has joined sex worker advocacy organisation Project Respect and outspoken animal protection group Animals Australia as the winners of the 2011 Kookaburra Awards.

The three were chosen from a field of 230 entries to receive the 2011 awards, which are designed to honour those people, groups and projects that make a real difference to our community by stretching people's vision of what's possible.

The awards are an initiative of Our Community, a world-leading social enterprise that provides advice and support for community groups, and are supported by Westpac.

Outspoken Crikey founder, award-winning journalist, councillor, media contributor and shareholder activist Stephen Mayne won the individual category Kookaburra Award for his work to further the cause of good governance and women's leadership.

Mr Mayne, who was elected as a director of the not-for-profit Australian Shareholders' Association in May 2011, has been at the forefront of a push to shame more Australian publicly listed companies into getting more women on their boards.

"Stephen is a man who has no tolerance for injustice of any sort. He's a force of nature and a driver of social change," said Our Community Group Managing Director Denis Moriarty.

"As Stephen has pointed out, women constitute only 13% of directors of ASX200 boards - a shocking reality, not to mention a poor business decision for those boards.

"It takes conviction and courage to take on this issue in the way Stephen has. He has attended numerous AGMs so he could publicly and personally question key boards on their plans for improving diversity, published 'shame files' outing companies with no women on their boards, exploded the myth of there being no suitable women for such positions by publishing a file of 'talented and under-worked' female directors, and basically banged the drum in public forums and the media at any opportunity."

Mr Mayne's work to improve transparency, accountability and governance in business, politics and communities was also noted. Project Respect took out the community group category Kookaburra Award in recognition of the organisation's work to fight against trafficking of women, and to stand up for the rights of women sex workers.

Among the varied activities undertaken by the Melbourne-based organisation have been a campaign against sex slavery, research and advocacy around conditions and legislation that prevent exploitation of women in Australia and overseas, and establishment of a social enterprise to train and employ women exiting the sex industry.

"This is an organisation that pushes us to acknowledge some dark truths about our society that most of us would probably prefer never to have to think about," Our Community's Denis Moriarty said.

"Project Respect's mission is to support women in the sex industry and to help prevent the exploitation and enslavement of women. Importantly, the organisation's work is centred around the principles of empowerment, education, advocacy and activism, tackling the often invisible structural inequalities that support discrimination against women.

"This is about true, sustained social change."

Prominent animal protection organisation Animals Australia took out the project category Kookaburra Award for its campaign to end the live export trade.

The organisation sparked public outrage in May this year when it joined with the RSPCA and Four Corners to expose the dark side of Australia's trade in live cattle to Indonesia. The Four Corners exposé featured shocking footage revealing atrocities relating to the way Australian cattle were being treated in Indonesian abattoirs.

"Few grassroots campaigns manage to break through the noise and truly move a nation - but this one did," said Denis Moriarty.

"The campaign resulted in an outpouring of outrage among members of the general public, and a change in the political climate.

"This is the latest salvo fired in a sustained campaign by Animals Australia against inhumane animal export practices."

Mr Moriarty commended all three Kookaburra Award winners for their driven, noisy, passionate and relentless work to create a better Australia.

"These are people and organisations that don't take no for an answer," he said.

"Their work embodies what the Kookaburra Awards are all about - recognising the people who squawk the longest and the loudest, not for their own gain, but to right wrongs and to build a better world."

Westpac Head of Social Sector Banking Julienne Price said the three winners of the 2011 Kookaburra Awards would receive a $3000 cash prize to help them further their work.

"These nominations, as well as the 227 others, provide a stunning illustration of the extraordinary amount of important and selfless work being carried out in the community sector across Australia," she said. "We're proud to be able to support that work."

Ms Price said the three winners would be honoured at a celebration function to be held in Melbourne in February, while all 230 nominees would be recognised in a tribute booklet to be distributed free of charge from the start of next year.

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