Sister Brigid Arthur was today presented with the Australian Lawyers Alliance’s (ALA) 2022 Victoria Civil Justice Award recognising her long-term commitment to social justice.
The annual ALA Civil Justice Award recognises individuals or organisations who have displayed an outstanding commitment to the pursuit of justice.
“Sister Brigid Arthur is a very deserving winner of our Civil Justice Award,” said ALA State President, Mr Lachlan Fitch. “She has been a tenacious fighter for the rights of some of the most vulnerable members of our community for decades.
“Sister Brigid is an inspiration to all of us because she effectively turns her passion for social justice into practical help for people that need it the most. She advocates fiercely but also works daily to provide practical, on the ground support to people in need.”
Sister Brigid is the coordinator of the Brigidine Asylum Seekers Project which provides practical support to asylum seekers and she was a long-term board member of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. Sister Brigid has also been a litigation guardian for many vulnerable people who need a representative in Federal Court matters.
“Sister Brigid has acted as litigation guardian for children in immigration detention, children kept in adult prisons and most recently teenage environmental activists,” said Mr Fitch. “She has made impactful and meaningful change in the lives of so many people.”
In a recent high-profile case Sister Brigid supported eight teenagers running a class action against the federal government for its inaction to protect future generations from the impacts of the climate crisis. Sister Brigid and the teenagers argued that the federal environment minister would be breaching a common law duty of care to protect younger people against future harm if she used her powers to allow an extension to a mine in NSW to go ahead.
Federal Court Justice Bromberg initially ruled Ms Ley indeed had a duty of care to not act in a manner that would hurt future generations.
“This decision was ultimately overturned by the full Federal Court however the case has drawn significant attention to the issue of liability in the context of climate change,” said Mr Fitch.
Previous winners of the Victoria Civil Justice Award include a mix of individuals and organisations such as Victoria Legal Aid, Apryl Day, Lex Lasry AM, Julian McMahon AC SC, The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service and The Law and Advocacy Centre for Women.
Sister Brigid was announced as the recipient of this award today at the ALA Victoria Conference at Cape Schanck.