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High honour for human rights advocate

Chris Davis

14 October 2014: Prominent human rights advocate Graeme Innes AM received an honorary doctorate from the University of Canberra on 8 October.

Dr Innes, who was born blind due to congenital issues, has spent most of his life campaigning for people with a disability and advocating for human rights.

Graeme Innes AM

Dr Graeme Innes was awarded an honorary doctorate for his work in campaigning for Australian's rights. Photo: Michelle McAulay.

The 59-year-old, who started raising money for the Royal Blind Society when he was just three-years-old, said he was "surprised and honoured" to receive the award.

"I never imagined receiving anything like this," he said. "It's a real honour and a privilege to be recognised by the University of Canberra for the work that I do."

Dr Innes was Australia's Disability Discrimination Commissioner in 2005 and drafted the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability. He spent two years as Race Discrimination Commissioner, and four years as Human Right's Commissioner.

He led or contributed to the success of a number of initiatives including the Same Sex: Same Entitlementsinquiry, which resulted in removal of discrimination across federal law; the drafting of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and its ratification by Australia and was crucial to the development of the National Disability Strategy and the Disability Standards 2010, as well as the establishment of Liveable Housing Australia.

In 1995 he was made a Member of the Order of Australia, and in 2003 was a finalist for Australian of the Year.

Dr Innes said he hopes to use the award as a platform to continue his work in fighting for the rights of all Australians, particularly those with a disability.

"I think it's really important for us all to contribute to a better society. This includes changing attitudes towards people with disability, strengthening our culture and looking to support refugees and asylum seekers."

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