1 November 2021

The 2021 Bettison & James Recipient is Bob Brown

The Adelaide Film Festival (AFF) is proud to announce that Dr Bob Brown, environmentalist, human rights campaigner and former political leader, is the recipient of the annual Bettison and James Award.

Find out more about the award, and view information on nominating someone for 2022 here.

Established in 2015, the prestigious $50,000 award recognises high achieving Australians whose exemplary and inspiring life-long work, within their area of expertise, has benefited the wider Australian community. The Bettison & James Award is administered by the Adelaide Film Festival on behalf of the Jim Bettison and Helen James Foundation.

Dr Bob Brown was born and educated in rural NSW and worked as a doctor before becoming the face of the campaign to save the Franklin River in 1982.

He was elected to the Tasmanian state parliament in 1983 and during his tenure most notably advocated for gun law reform, gay law reform and achieved the expansion of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.

In 1996 Bob was elected to the Senate, where he led the national debate for 16 years on issues including climate change, democracy, preventative healthcare, conservation, and human rights.

Bob resigned from the Senate in June 2012 to establish the Bob Brown Foundation, a not for profit organisation dedicated to supporting action campaigns for the environment in Australia and our region. He is a published author and acclaimed photographer. To find out more about his work and donate to the foundation, head to the Bob Brown Foundation Donate page.

Adelaide Film Festival CEO and Creative Director, Mat Kesting, said, “The Adelaide Film Festival is proud to be associated with the Jim Bettison and Helen James Foundation. Each year the Foundation confers an Award to acknowledge the lifetime work of an exemplary Australian.   This year’s Award recognises Bob Brown and his longstanding and critical work across many areas of benefit to the community, especially in regard to the environment and action on climate change.”

Jim Bettison and Helen James Foundation spokesperson, Doreen Mellor said, “Helen and Jim envisioned an annual Award to honour an individual whose lifetime work is of significant value and benefit to the Australian community. We are delighted to recognise the outstanding and inspiring contribution of Bob Brown as an active and passionate advocate over several decades, for conservation and protection of our ecological systems, and for the human rights of diverse groups in varied circumstances across our nation and internationally.”

Dr Brown said, “I am highly delighted to get the 2021 award honouring Jim Bettison and Helen James at the Adelaide Film Festival. The arts and environmental campaigning are inextricably mixed for, as Gaudi put it, ‘all creativity comes from the great book of nature’. Most of the $50,000 will go to our campaign to save Adelaide’s nearest rainforest, the Tarkine, in northwest Tasmania, and I will set aside $5,000 for my old home, now Bush Heritage Australia’s property, ‘Oura Oura’ in the beautiful Liffey Valley, where everyone is welcome.”

The Adelaide Film Festival is also proud to announce that the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund is an investor in the feature documentary film The Giants, a poetic, cinematic portrait of Bob Brown, the Forest, and of our profound connection with trees.  The film, written, directed and produced by Laurence Billiet (General Strike) and executive produced by Helen Panckhurst (Matchbox Pictures), will premiere at the 2022 Adelaide Film Festival (October 19 – 30).
The film has also been made possible with the assistance of Screen Australia, Film Victoria, Madman as well as private philanthropic donations through the Documentary Australia Foundation.


The Jim Bettison and Helen James Foundation was established to realise the vision of Dr Jim Bettison and Ms Helen James, who were committed to supporting a wide range of activity in the community through philanthropy and professional engagement. Jim co-founded Codan, a successful and award-winning Adelaide company, established the Developed Image Photographic Gallery and served as Deputy Chancellor at the University of Adelaide. Helen was an exhibiting studio artist. She served on various key arts committees and was a founding member of the National Library of Australia’s Foundation Board.

 The Adelaide Film Festival administers the Bettison and James Award on the behalf of the Bettison and James Foundation, with Perpetual as Trustee.

Nominations for the 2022 award are now open. Visit this page for more information.

Image: Matthew Newton