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Rosemary Kayess, Senior Research Fellow at UNSW Social Policy Research Centre (SPRC) and Visiting Fellow at UNSW Law, has been awarded the 2019 Human Rights Medal by the Australian Human Rights Commission.

“This is recognition of all the dedicated work of disability activists which is pivotal to human rights,” Ms Kayess says. “It’s an honour to be recognised among such dedicated and distinguished nominees.”

Ms Kayess graduated from UNSW Law in 2004. She is also Academic Lead Engagement of UNSW’s Disability Innovation Institute and is one of the driving forces behind the ground-breaking initiative to help transform the lives of people with disability by harnessing research and innovation across all faculties and disciplines.

She was elected to the United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in 2018 and was appointed vice-chair in March 2019.

Professor Karen Fisher, who leads the SPRC Disability Research Program, said Ms Kayess’s rapid appointment to the position of vice-chair recognised her unique expertise from her academic and community positions in Australia and internationally.

“It is unusual to find someone with such in-depth knowledge of the human rights of people with disability, from her profile on the international stage and her grassroots connections in Australia through to her theorisation of these human rights in her significant international writing.”