History of Kingston for Human Rights Inc

In 2000 the Kingston Bahá'í community was instrumental in gathering together a committee from within the City of Kingston to raise public awareness of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

As it was, and still is, a small committee of 8 members the committee decided to focus on a public event each year as close to the actual anniversary, December 10th, as practicable. Kingston for Human Rights was was very fortunate to have the support of our local Federal MP, Ann Corcoran, who presented the committee with an Australian flag which we use at each year's event. For the first 3 years St Augustine's Anglican Church provided both the meeting place for the committee meetings and the venue for the annual event, which was very gratefully acknowledged.

The only funding source the committee had to use was a small grant from the Kingston City Council. Then in 2004, thanks to the intervention of Cr. Bill Nixon, we were offered the use of a council function room, because after September 11 2001 insurance was unaffordable for the committee at the Church premises.

Kingston for Human Rights Inc., has been very fortunate in the support they have received from Kingston City Council and staff who liaise with us, do all our photocopying, and assist in the preparation of the meeting room and supply the technical requirements for power point presentations.

Kingston for Human Rights became incorporated in 2007.

In 2009, the committee prepared and forwarded a submission to the National Consultative Committee re Australia having its own National Bill of Human Rights.

Our Annual Function

Each year the committee has had speakers from distinguished background who have had the topic which the committee chose, either from a Human Rights perspective, or from an article of the declaration and/or from the the United Nations designated year.

In conjunction with the evening the committee has held an Art Competition for either secondary students or Grades 5 & 6 from the Kingston schools and colleges. The Art work was designated to fit in with the chosen topic of the year.

About Us Pic

Speakers and Topics





Rev. Professor Gary Bouma, Monash University

Human Rights and Religious Diversity – as victims of, and solutions to terror


Ms. Jane Blaxland, Amnesty International Development Planning

The Role of Human Rights in the Planning Process


Ms. Robyn Kilpatrick, Amnesty International Australia

Where is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights now?


Professor David Chittleborough, Flinders University

Water – A Prerequisite for Life


Assoc. Professor Margarita Frederico, Latrobe University

Human Rights and Abuses of the World’s Children


Ms Marion Lé OAM, Human Rights advocate, a registered Migration Agent and historian

Refugees and Human Rights


  • Dr Mark Zirnsak (Chairman Uniting Church Mission and Social Justice Committee)
  • Mr Gatwech Pal (from Lost Boys of the Sudan)

Forced Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict


Ms Laura Chipp, Kingston Young Citizen of the Year 2008 – volunteer Uganda and Philippines

Slavery and its Abuse of Human Rights


Ms. Jennifer Zeng M.Sc., Author "Witnessing History"

Everyone’s Right to Life, Liberty and Security, No Torture or Inhumane Treatment


Ms. Vera Weber 2009 Winner of the Premier’s "Closing the Gap" Award

Reconciliation of Aboriginal and Western Cultures


Ms. Branka Mladjen Coordinator of Volunteer Tutor Program Oakleigh

Importance of Literacy for Migrants to Australia


Ms. Rosemary Barca Coordinator of Emerge Women’s and Children’s Support Network

Say No to Violence


  • Evelyn Field (psychologist and author)
  • Laura Lindsay (Kingston City Council Social & Youth Worker)
  • Assistant Commissioner Stephen Leane (Divisional Commander for Region 2, Victorian Police Force)

Stop Bullying in the Home, Workplace and School


  • Rosemary McCallum Ph.D. (Behavioural Scientist & Author)
  • Patrick O’Callahan (CEO YGAP 2013)
  • Cameron Mackenzie McHarg (Olympic Rower & Silver Medallist)

Loneliness and Isolation


  • Mr Fayia Lahai (Isaiah) AASW Refugee from Sierra Leone
  • Rev. Tim Costello AO (CEO of World Vision)
  • Speaker from Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

The Contribution of Refugees to Australian Society


William Kelly OAM, Humanist, International Artist & Human Rights Activist

Topic of "Seeking Safe Haven" and Film of "When Mary met Muhammad"


Julian Burnside AO QC, Australian Barrister, Human Rights Activist and Author

Celebrating the International Day of Tolerance

The Kingston for Human Rights Committee

Throughout the history of the group, Mr Dennis Cowden has been the Chairperson of the Committee and had chaired the function each year. However, due to his unexpected illness and death in June 2010, we were without a chairman. Dr. Michael Pearson-Smith, our Vice Chairman stepped in to fill this position until our annual meeting in August 2010, when he was elected Chairperson. When Dr. Michael Pearson-Smith retired as Chairperson, Mrs Barbara Richardson assumed the role. The current Chairperson is Mr Ted Gibbs.

Mrs Florence Gibbs was secretary from inception in the year 2000, until 2014. In recognition for her community work, Mrs Florence Gibbs was awarded Kingston Citizen of the Year for 2009. Since 2015, the position of Secretary was filled by Kathy McWilliams and is currently held by Philippa Rayment. Our Treasurer is Ms. Lynette Atkins-Brandeggen.

The committee has averaged 8 members since its inception and attendance at the annual function has been approximately 80‑100, except for 2017 when there were over 150 present.

Children's Art Competition

To enable Kingston’s schoolchildren to be aware of The International Declaration of Human Rights we have held an Art Competition in conjunction with the event every year. The topic was always related to the theme of the event when prizes were given. To increase their awareness of this important document we placed a poster from England which was a picture version of the declaration specifically for primary school students in every Primary School in Kingston. This was shown to everyone present at the 2004 function by Ms Robyn Kilpatrick, and after prolonged negotiations the committee was able to obtain a copy of this poster and distribute it.

The information contained in the "About" page was prepared and updated by Florence Gibbs on 20/4/2018.