AUST DAY HONOURS: Kay Danes - A passion for social justice

Kay Danes Photo by Chris McCormack
Kay Danes Photo by Chris McCormack

KAY Danes, of Wellington Point, has been honoured with a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to the community through promoting social justice and human rights.

An author and humanitarian, Kay has been living between Australia and the Middle East for two years, as her husband Kerry, a member of the Australian Defence Force, is on deployment in the Middle East.

She has worked tirelessly for many years in Australia and overseas, raising awareness of human rights and social justice, having experienced the violation of her own human rights 13 years ago when she and her husband Kerry, while working for a security company in Laos, were unlawfully detained over a dispute between the Laotian Government and one of their clients.

They spent almost 12 months in a prison in Laos, where they were tortured and interrogated before diplomatic efforts secured their release, and a pardon was given by the President of Laos.

Among the many projects on which she has worked, Kay, who is completing her master’s in human rights, has helped create greater safety for Australian travellers by helping to educate the community about not expecting to find in other countries the same judicial processes as those found in Australia, and has run campaigns to improve health and education for people who live in poverty and those affected by war zones and conflict.

In Australia, she also campaigns to improve literacy among indigenous Australians and supports the Soldier On charity, which assists Australian soldiers who were wounded in Afghanistan.

She has helped renovate a women’s prison in Afghanistan, and has also been a volunteer consultant to the National Human Rights Commission of Australia, the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties and the Secretary to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Kay is currently starting a project called Blankets and Books, which aims to supply orphans in Jordan with care packages containing books, a blanket, small toys, crayons, pyjamas and more.

She said receiving the OAM didn’t “seem quite real”.

“It’s hard to describe the feeling, but I’m really proud that whoever nominated me and whoever selected me thought me worthy of this award,” she said.

Kay attributed her drive to help others to her parents, who were self-funded missionaries in the Philippines.