Community organisations dedicated to supporting the most vulnerable members of the LGBTI community were among a diverse mix of community members and groups honoured for their work in support of LGBTI communities at the Honour Awards in Sydney last night.

Hundreds of people and organisations from across NSW and Australia came together to celebrate the achievements of equality champions and unsung heroes, as well as the strength and resilience of the LGBTI community.

Now in their 11th year, the Honour Awards recognises outstanding achievements within, or contributions to, NSW’s LGBTI community. Attended by 350 community members, the awards also serve as a gala fundraising event for LGBTI charity Aurora and for ACON, NSW’s leading HIV support, HIV prevention and LGBTI health organisation.

The winners were selected from a diverse field of over 230 nominations and 28 finalists, and their awards were presented at a ceremony at the Ivy Ballroom in Sydney. The event also raised thousands of dollars for LGBTI health initiatives supported by ACON and Aurora.



  • COMMUNITY HERO: Elaine Czulkowski
  • YOUNG ACHIEVER: Mikhara Ramsing
  • HEALTH & WELLBEING: Twenty 10 incorporating GLCS NSW
  • ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT: The Red Rattler
  • BUSINESS AWARD: Dowson Turco Lawyers
  • MEDIA AWARD (JOINT WINNERS): Monique Schafter and NT News
  • PRESIDENT’S AWARD: David Cooper and The Kirby Institute


At a stressful time for LGBTI communities around the country, organisations dedicated to supporting, defending and fostering our diverse communities received the majority of the accolades.

Twenty10 incorporating GLCS NSW picked up the Health & Wellbeing Award for years of supporting and caring for young LGBTI people and their families, through the range of specialised services including counselling, mental health support, medical clinics, social groups, transitional housing and accommodation.

It’s second time lucky for Dowson Turco Lawyers who picked up the Business Award  for being one of NSW’s leading LGBTI law practices; providing substantial pro bono work, community partnerships and support for key community organisations, and for their commitment to provide legal services that specialises in the needs of LGBTI people and their families.

Cultural icon of Sydney’s Inner-West, the community-owned and operated Red Rattler took out the Arts and Entertainment Award for creating a queer-based venue to showcase a truly diverse range of alternative Sydney arts, performance and grassroots activism for over nine years.

The Community Group Award went to Rainbow Families Inc., for being a strong voice for LGBTI parents and their children in NSW, providing strong advocacy, support and opportunities to celebrate all families within our communities.

Elaine Czulkowski was presented with the Community Hero Award for her over 20 years of LGBTI rights advocacy, including most recently her tireless efforts as a key campaigner, in both a volunteering and professional capacity, for Australian Marriage Equality.

Ms Czulkowski has also used her professional contacts and expertise to create networking and professional opportunities for emerging LGBTIQ professionals as a Board Member for Out for Australia. She has also volunteered as a Board Associate on Queer Screen’s committee in 2014, making sure that this important LGBTIQ film festival has the support it needs to continue.

Advocate for LGBTI people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, Mikhara Ramsing was the recipient of the Young Achiever Award for establishing a comprehensive range of social enterprises and community projects aimed towards improving the lives of ethnically, culturally and religiously diverse LGBTI people.

The ACON President’s Award went to The Kirby Institute and its founding director, Professor David Cooper AO, for over 30 years of life-changing research and work; establishing the evidence base for much of Australia’s HIV response.

For the first time there were joint winners in the Media category. Reporter for the ABC’s 7:30 Monique Shafter was recognised for her powerful and influential piece on the ABC’s The Link on Peter ‘Bon’ Bonsall-Boone and his fight to expunge a second historical homosexual conviction dating back to the 1950s. Media outlet NT News was also recognised for its front page imploring the Federal Government to abandon its plan to force Australians to take part in a same-sex marriage postal survey.

Finally, Sydney artist Guy James Whitworth received the Cayte Latta Memorial Award for Visual Arts for various works exploring LGBTI culture and content including sexuality and identity.

ACON President Justin Koonin congratulated the winners and all the finalists on their achievements and community service.

“Last night’s event was a truly inspirational and thoroughly entertaining evening and a great celebration of the dynamic spirit of our community. I’d like to thank all the people who submitted nominations, our independent judging panel, as well as all our guests for coming along and supporting ACON and Aurora,” Mr Koonin said.

Aurora Chair Alison King extended her thanks to the event’s partners and supporters: “We thank our community and event partners Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association, Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, SBS, Merivale, Glyde Health, Stonewall Hotel, AIX wines, Biology skin care and Crowd Comms, as well as all the people, businesses and organisations that donated items for the silent auction.”


COMMUNITY HERO: Elaine Czulkowski

For over two decades, Elaine Czulkowski has worked tirelessly in service of the LGBTI community in NSW. In that time, she has held a variety of roles in a number of NGOs and community groups, including Director at Out for Australia, Board Associate at Queer Screen, volunteer at Bingham Cup Sydney and an ACON Rover. In recent years, Elaine has been heavily involved with Australians for Equality, currently serving as its Fundraising Manager. As an accomplished professional, Elaine has utilised her many years of corporate experience to benefit The Equality Campaign by forging corporate links, educating communities, fostering relationships and strengthening partnerships. A passionate supporter of equality, diversity and inclusion, Elaine has been integral in our community’s ongoing fight for equal marriage rights. In 2017, Elaine was named Local Woman of the Year at the NSW Women of the Year Awards.

YOUNG ACHIEVER: Mikhara Ramsing

Mikhara Ramsing is a young gay Indian woman whose experiences of being at the intersection of four minority groups has empowered her to connect not just the mainstream, but the margins of Australian society. Mikhara left her secure job as an economist at Deloitte Access Economics with the resolve to increase her impact on the lives of young Australians through her two social enterprises. One of these is Ethnic LGBT+, the first of its kind in Australia, provides a supportive online platform for individuals identifying at the intersection of cultural and linguistic diversity, and sexual and gender diversity. Through Ethnic LGBT+ Mikhara has connected with 200 users monthly to provide resources, education, mentoring and the support to share their stories.


Rainbow Families is a 100% volunteer organisation that provides a network of support to children and families within the NSW LGBTIQ community. Lesbian mums, gay dads, trans parents, adoptive parents, foster parents and all types of rainbow families come together through events, socials and playgroups, parent education sessions and other activities to learn, meet other LGBTIQ families, make new friends and build resilient families. Rainbow Families also works to address discrimination and other social disadvantages faced by LGBTIQ families and to promote acceptance of rainbow families by working with LGBTIQ parents, their children, government, business, schools, the broader community and other not-for-profit organisations.

HEALTH & WELLBEING: Twenty 10 incorporating GLCS NSW

For over 30 years, Twenty10 has provided vital support programs for LGBTI young people and their families, and more recently, mental health services for LGBTI people more broadly following its incorporation of the Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service NSW. Together they provide a broad range of specialised services for people of diverse genders, sexualities and intersex status including housing, mental health, counselling and social support services. Every year, Twenty10 supports hundreds of young people to remain engaged = in housing, education, employment, family or community and provided phone or online counselling to over 3000 people. Over the last three decades, that numbers increases into many thousands.


The Red Rattler Theatre was founded as a community initiative in 2008 by five queer women and it continues to be not-for-profit, volunteer-driven and community owned. It is a queer-run creative playground for performers, musicians, artists, designers, multi-media makers, experimentalists, film-makers, theorists, activists, collective organisers and punters. The Rat has been recognised for providing an inclusive and affordable performance and events space for a range of communities, and for supporting established and emerging queer talent through diverse, creative and inspiring programming.

BUSINESS AWARD: Dowson Turco Lawyers

Dowson Turco Lawyers is Australia’s only out loud and proud LGBTI law firm of its kind. With a large team of family, criminal, estate, commercial and property lawyers, the firm acts across the spectrum of law and takes on prominent LGBTI pro bono cases. Outside of the practice, the firm’s lawyers are engaged on boards and committees of various LGBTI not for profit organisations. Dowson Turco is a pillar of the LGBTI community, passionate about the human face of law and a generous benefactor to progressive causes.


Originally from the UK and now based in Sydney, Guy James Whitworth is a prolific artist whose work focuses on the queer community and identity. He has exhibited several exhibitions that explores gay culture over the years.  The submissions for this award included works from Whitworth’s 2016 exhibition, What Maketh A Man, which explored the concept of masculinity and challenging gender norms and sexual politics. That exhibition builds on a growing body of work, which demonstrates a clear evolution and growth in Whitworth’s philosophy, vision, craft and style.

MEDIA AWARD (JOINT WINNERS): Monique Schafter and NT News

Monique Schafter is a Walkley Award winning journalist and documentary filmmaker. She has interviewed icons such as Academy Award winner Jodie Foster, Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot and rock legend Iggy Pop, and has sought out the voices of young asylum seekers, LGBTQI warriors, indigenous trailblazers, and an assortment of everyday heroes with fascinating stories. Monique received the Honour Award for her powerful profile on Peter ‘Bon’ Bonsall-Boone and his fight to expunge a second historical homosexual conviction dating back to the 1950s, which later helped to clear Bon’s name just days before he passed away in May earlier this year. The story, which aired on The Link on the ABC is just one of Monique’s many outstanding reports that brought LGBTI issues to the fore on the national broadcaster.

Serving the people of the Northern Territory for more than 60 years, the NT News allows Territorians to escape the daily grind by being informed and also enjoy the lighter side of life. The NT News has been recognised for actively campaigning the Federal Government to abandon the postal survey and legislate for marriage equality in a full front page – the first major state/territory newspaper to do so. It was seen by an estimated 2 million viewers on social media in 24 hours and became the most retweeted front page in Australia’s history. The print edition, distributed across vast swathes in the Northern Territory and its neighbouring islands, delivered the message of equality to some of the country’s most remote communities.

PRESIDENT’S AWARD: David Cooper and The Kirby Institute

Established in 1986 in response to the emerging HIV/AIDS epidemic, The Kirby Institute’s world-leading research has played an instrumental role in how NSW – and Australia – became renowned for world’s best HIV/AIDS policy and health practice. Later it broadened its work to contribute to knowledge on a broad range of diseases, including viral hepatitis and sexually transmissible infections.

Since its establishment, The Kirby Institute has been led by Professor Cooper who, as director, has overseen and guided crucial research into the HIV/AIDS epidemic, with the ultimate aim of reducing the burden of HIV/AIDS for affected communities. Through Professor Cooper’s leadership, The Kirby Institute has led national epidemiology and surveillance of HIV/AIDS, viral hepatitis and STIs, including the co-ordination and conduct of clinical trials of innovative therapies and vaccines for HIV, as well as other related clinical research.

Professor Cooper is also a consultant physician to the HIV/immunology infectious diseases clinical services unit at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney, and is internationally renowned as being a leading HIV clinician and clinical investigator. Throughout his career, Professor Cooper has also been the President of the International AIDS Society and past Chairman of the World Health Organisation-UNAIDS HIV Vaccine Advisory Committee.



Media enquiries: David Alexander, ACON Media and Communications

E:   T: +61 (02) 9206 2044   M: +61 (0)428 477 042

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