The heartbroken family of a selfless young human rights lawyer has paid a touching tribute to her after she lost her nine-month battle with brain cancer on Thursday.
Sophie Trevitt, 32, from Canberra, worked relentlessly on the campaign to keep Indigenous children out of detention, even as she fought for her own life.
In June, she won the 2023 Liberty Victoria’s Voltaire Human Rights Award for her work on raising the age of criminal responsibility for children.
But on Friday, in heart-wrenching posts on Twitter, loved ones revealed she had finally succumbed to her incurable cancer.
Along with a series of snapshots from throughout her life, they posted: ‘Be kind, be brave. Fight for justice. Fight to make people safe.
‘Today and all tomorrows, ask yourself: what would Sophie do?’
The heartbroken family of selfless young human rights lawyer Sophie Trevitt (pictured with partner Tom) paid a touching tribute to her after she lost her nine-month battle with brain cancer on Thursday
Ms Trevitt, from Canberra, worked relentlessly on the campaign to keep Indigenous children out of detention, even as she fought for her own life (pictured in hospital earlier this month)
In June, she won the 2023 Liberty Victoria’s Voltaire Human Rights Award for her work on raising the age of criminal responsibility for children
Ms Trevitt turned her back on a promising career in Canberra politics to move to the Northern Territory after seeing the plight of First Nations children in the criminal justice system.
She admitted in 2019: ‘I have never felt fear the way I do for the children locked up in Alice Springs.’
Her tireless fight won commitments from ACT, Northern Territory, Tasmania and Victoria governments to either increase the minimum age for detention or the minimum age of criminal responsibility.
In an interview with the ABC in June, with her voice affected by the cancer, she added: ‘These kids are getting locked up but they’re not getting any help.
‘We’re just putting human beings in cages because we decided they’re too hard, or as a government, we don’t care about them enough to change that.
‘I was just a bit overwhelmed by the heartache of that.
‘We want these kids to be cared for properly so we can all share in that safe and happy future. And that’s that’s what we don’t have right now.’
Announcing her death, her family called her ‘the ‘kindest, the bravest’ and a legend and hero who had inspired countless others.
‘To the uncountable everyone that loved her and were inspired by her: this little legend, this total legend, the kindest, the bravest, the most ridiculous, the best, our hero, our most precious one,’ they posted.
‘Sophie Jessica Trevitt, in the calm morning moments of 27 July, after nine months of battling a horrific brain cancer with the wisdom of a sage, breathed her last breath and passed peacefully into being nowhere but our memories of her.
‘Tenacious and concerned for others even in her hardest times, she would want little fuss – except if it could somehow inspire you to make to a difference to the world and the people within it.’
She had been the executive officer of Change the Record campaign as well as the ACT Co-Chair of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights.
‘Not caging children under 14 is the bare minimum we can do to not torture kids,’ she said.
‘Banning spit hoods [and] raising the age of criminal responsibility are first steps to supporting our kids.’
On Friday, in a heartrending series of posts on Twitter, her family revealed Sophie Trevitt had finally succumbed to her incurable cancer
Ms Trevitt turned her back on a promising career in Canberra politics to move to the Northern Territory after seeing the plight of First Nations children in the criminal justice system
Friends and supporters shared their grief with the family in dozens of online tributes to Sophie
Her work was also recognised in 2020 when she won the Yogies Award from the Youth Coalition of the ACT.
‘She has brought her passion, impressive experience and skills to this campaign and worked mostly behind the scenes to coordinate, inform, advocate,’ said the judges.
‘Her dedication and efforts have impressed all of us who have had the pleasure of working with her.
‘It is her genuine display of integrity, to do what she knows is the right and just thing because it is valuable in-and-of-itself that continues to be inspiring.’
Friends and supporters shared their grief with the family online.
‘Nothing but respect and sadness for this terrible loss,’ said human rights lawyer Professor George Newhouse. ‘We are all diminished by her untimely death.’
‘Sophie was a special person, a fighter, advocate and agent of change,’ posted one.
Another added: ‘The most kind hearted, brave and most compassionate woman, who has left a great imprint on the sands of injustice.’
‘Such a profound loss. Her fighting spirit will live on,’ said one more.
A memorial for her in Canberra will be announced at a later date.