Human rights activist Grace Forrest has been awarded the Freedom from Fear honour this year for her work eradicating slavery. It is just the second time an Australian has received the prestigious Roosevelt Four Freedoms award.
“It is an honour to be nominated for an award with such a rich history of human rights and international law behind it. I am deeply humbled to be the first Australian woman ever to receive this award,” says Forrest, the founder and CEO of Walk Free.
The 30-year-old Perth local founded the non-profit tackling multilateral slavery when she was just 18. She notes that modern slavery intertwines with many geopolitical issues that place people in positions of vulnerability.
“From conflict zones, to supply chains, to global migration – exploitation is happening every day.”
Forrest studied international relations, social justice and political science at the University of Notre Dame in Western Australia and was profiled in a recent edition of Forbes Australia magazine.
“Freedom from fear, in its earliest form, was about mitigating conflict,” says Forrest. “With 43 active conflicts in the world today and an ongoing climate crisis, it is important we ask ourselves what freedom from fear truly means. And in its simplest form, it is about the fundamental access to human rights in all contexts.”
The Four Freedoms Awards are given out in accordance with the ideals set out by former U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.
“In his historic Four Freedoms speech, President Roosevelt proclaimed that everyone, everywhere in the world, is entitled to four basic human rights: freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear. These words are still relevant today,” the Roosevelt Four Freedoms statement reads.
Former recipients of the award include Nelson Mandela, Kofi Annan, Malala Yousafzai, Jimmy Carter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Dr Angela Merkel.
Forrest, the daughter of Australian billionaire magnates Twiggy and Nicola Forrest, is thrilled to be in the company of such changemakers.
“It is mind-blowing to be included in this incredible line up of recipients, whose work I have admired and studied. It is a privilege to represent a team of women who have built Walk Free to what it is today.”