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The European Union has today presented the Australian Human Rights Commission's "Racism. It stops with me" award to the Cohealth Arts Generator Sisters and Brothers Program from Victoria while also using the occasion to call for greater cooperation between the EU and Australia on human rights issues such as abolishing the death penalty.
The EU Ambassador to Australia, Dr Michael Pulch, was moved by the awards ceremony where so many human rights defenders are lauded, and congratulated the Cohealth Arts Generator Sisters and Brothers Program on their anti-racism work.
"Standing up to racism is a fundamental human right and I sincerely congratulate the Cohealth Arts Generator Sisters and Brothers Program for tackling racism in Victoria with a school leadership and vocational program that encourages bystanders to take action when they witness racism, and that builds confidence and resilience," Ambassador Pulch said. "The European Union views all human rights, including fighting racism, as universal, indivisible and interdependent."
Ambassador Pulch said the campaign against racism and other human rights abuses were priorities for the EU.
"Nobody - no government, no organisation, no person can or should underestimate the existential danger to basic human rights and harmonious living together that racism and xenophobia represents. And no one should think they are immune from this danger," Dr Pulch said during the Human Rights Award ceremony.
"The EU has allocated more than 2 billion Australian dollars to a six-year program promoting and defending human rights," he said. "The funding is provided to the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights which is mainly channelled through civil society organisations to support democracy and enhance respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms."
"We already work with Australia on human rights issues around the world. Is this enough? No - we want to do more, much more. And we can achieve so much by working together," the Ambassador said.
The EU Ambassador also used the occasion to congratulate Australia on its election to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
For more information or to request an interview contact:
Nick Pedley or Alia Papageorgiou
EU Delegation to Australia
Tel: (02) 6271 2777