Woman of the Year Gillian Triggs on feminism: 'I'm from the '60s, when we burned our bras'


Jenny Noyes

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Gillian Triggs: Woman Of The Year

The Daily Life 2015 Woman of the Year winner, Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs, accepts her award.

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If there was any uncertainty about whether Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs considers herself a card-carrying feminist, she clarified it accepting the Daily Life Woman of the Year award last week.

"I am a feminist, I have to say," Triggs declared, following a panel discussion earlier in the evening that touched on why some women still reject the term.  

"But I'm from the '60s, when we burned our bras," she added, much to the delight of the audience. "Although, actually, I didn't burn mine - and 15 years later I had to put it back on again.

Candice Chung with Gillian Triggs and Rosie Batty. Click for more photos

Daily Life Women of the Year Awards 2015

The most inspiring Australian women of 2015 recognised and celebrated at a special event in Sydney. Last year's winner, Rosie Batty, passes the award to 2015 Woman of the Year Gillian Triggs.  

"I think it's wonderful to be a woman, but I think equally it's absolutely vital that we stand up, that we we speak up with complete confidence, having got our facts, our law, our evidence, our stories right."


On her relationship with the law, she said it has been one of her "best friends" in that it has protected her, and also provided her with a language to work with when having to discuss and explain often very difficult, logic-defying situations. 

Speaking entirely off the cuff, Professor Triggs was candid about her trying year and her hope that the new government led by Malcolm Turnbull would prove more cooperative on both matters of law and conscience.

Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Human Rights Commission, in her Sydney office.

Professor Gillian Triggs, President of the Human Rights Commission, in her Sydney office. Photo: Louise Kennerley

"This has, as I've been saying, been a year of living extremely dangerously, but somehow or another we seem to have come through," she said, adding that she hopes Australia now has "a cabinet and a government that is prepared to at least acknowledge the importance of the rule of law."

She said that the media had been "enormously helpful" to the AHRC's causes over the past year - including asylum seekers, violence against women, and Indigenous human rights breaches.

"If we work together, if we work with the media, but get our facts right, our stories right, and - for somebody like me - my law right, then I think we will ultimately win the day."