A national human rights festival which is the brainchild of a first-year Clayton Utz lawyer has kicked off in Melbourne this week.
In its third year, the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival (HRAFF) promises to be bigger and better than ever, and has attracted a huge range of talent in its quest to take issues surrounding human rights to a broader audience.
"The basic aim of the festival is to try to engage people with human rights issues and broaden the awareness of human rights issues amongst people who may not have engaged with those issues before," said HRAFF founder and commercial litigation lawyer Evelyn Tadros.
"We found that the medium of film and art are really powerful tools to communicate stories about human rights, and that is one way to connect with those issues."
Tadros, who developed the idea to stage a festival while still at university, is amazed at how far the festival has come since its inception.
"The festival basically started because I was procrastinating and trying to avoid studying for a law exam," said Tadros.
"I did a bit of [research] and discovered there are human rights festivals pretty much all over the world, except for Australia ... and it motivated me to decide to start one up."
The festival now takes place in Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, Canberra, Adelaide and Brisbane, and counts Justice Michael Kirby, Julian Burnside QC, Myf Warhurst and Margaret Pomeranz amongst its many high-profile supporters.
"It has exceeded all expectations. I certainly didn't expect it to become so big so quickly," said Tadros.
"It comes down to the sheer enthusiasm of all of our volunteers. It has been fantastic to see the festival move from being a student-based organisation to one that is quite professional. It just keeps getting bigger."
And Tadros is hoping the growth and success of the festival will attribute to an increased awareness about human rights in Australia.
"In Australia, there tends to be lots of stereotypes about people who are interested in human rights and [the topic] seems to be quite politicised," she said.
"Human rights tend to be confined to the halls of academia and text books, and are not something that people might think about on a day to day basis. One of the greatest things about the festival is that we have really been able to engage with new audiences and connect with people."
For more information about HRAFF visit http://www.hraff.org.au/