Ron Castan humanitarian awards presented in Melbourne

October 24, 2015 by J-Wire Staff
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Stand Up’s Ron Castan Humanitarian Award and Young Humanitarian Award have been conferred on Kathy Kaplan and Dean Cohen.

At a ceremony held in Melbourne Kaplan and Cohen were recognised for their outstanding humanitarian work, in their respective areas of domestic violence prevention and disability support.

Kathy Kaplan and Stand Up's CEO Gary Samowitz

Kathy Kaplan and Stand Up’s CEO Gary Samowitz

The Awards honour the memory and significant humanitarian contribution of distinguished barrister and human rights advocate, Ron Castan AM QC, to the Australian public and the Indigenous community. The late Ron Castan played a leading role in some of Australia’s most significant legal cases, including the Franklin Dam case, and the groundbreaking Mabo case that recognised Aboriginal Land Rights in Australian law for the first time.

Humanitarian Award winner Kathy Kaplan is the founder and president of Impact for Women is an outstanding role model for commitment to humanitarian values. Impact for Women is a volunteer-led and driven charity, making a difference to Victorian women and children fleeing extreme violence at home.
She was awarded an OAM in 2011 for her pioneering work in the area of domestic violence prevention and her work in the Jewish community. Kathy is a past president of Temple Beth Israel (TBI), and is now an active participant in the school tour teams at TBI, the Jewish Museum of Australia and with the Jewish Christian Muslim Association.

In her acceptance speech, Kaplan said that “at least 700 Victorian women, to the best of my current knowledge, and their children, are in crisis accommodation every single night as they hide from their violent partner”.

Young Humanitarian Award Winner Dean Cohen was the inspirational force behind the establishment of Camp Sababa Melbourne, in 2014. Camp Sababa provides fun experiences for people across the Jewish community with special needs, respite for their families, and disability care training for young adults. It also educates the community about the values of inclusion, tolerance and acceptance.

Dean Cohen with Gary Samowitz

Dean Cohen with Gary Samowitz

Cohen developed a passion for working with people with special needs after a few life-changing years working in the disability sector. One of his most memorable experiences was accompanying a group of ten people with special needs to Israel in 2010.

He recently founded The Best Bunch, an online flower business that provides employment opportunities, in an inclusive and supportive work environment, for people with special needs. Dean has a degree in marketing and philosophy, and is a recent graduate of the Young Social Pioneers program of the Foundation for Young Australians.

In his acceptance speech, Cohen said: “We are passionate about providing opportunities for people with special needs and I believe our team has laid a solid foundation to be able to have a huge impact in this area”.

Arnold Bloch Leibler partner Peter Seidel is head of the firm’s Native Title Practice, and presented the keynote address at the awards ceremony. Both Peter and the late Ron Castan AM QC, represented the Yorta Yorta peoples, in their landmark native title claim.

Stand Up CEO, Gary Samowitz said, “Stand Up respects the pivotal work of the late Ron Castan AM, QC, and Peter Seidel at ABL, in representing the Yorta Yorta people in their long quest for recognition. Ron and Peter forged close relationships with many of the Elders and members of that community. Stand Up hopes to honour and continue these foundation relationships, through our Yorta Yorta Indigenous youth support programs and our Yorta Yorta ‘Beyachad’ program with Year 9 Mt Scopus College students”.

Stand Up is a not for profit social justice organisation that harnesses the talent and dedication of Jewish volunteers into action to create a more just world. The organisation supports vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in Australia, and conducts motivating social justice education programs for young change-makers, and the broader community.

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