What Makes Healthy Communities? People have the Power!

Communities in Control 2017

What Makes Healthy Communities? People have the Power!

Conference will open 29 May 2017, Melbourne
We dose, diet, meditate and purge to be healthy. That's fine, can't hurt, but it's not going to do that much to your lifespan. Most of the things that affect our health don't originate in our own bodies and aren't under our immediate control.

What helps your health more is to be a citizen of a nation that has working rules against poisoning the water or the air, where inequalities are smoothed out by wealth redistribution, where guns are kept under control, and where you can get access to health care without having to sell a child or a kidney. Politics matter.

Civil society matters even more. Community groups are the immune system of Australian society, breaking down the toxins and preserving the health of the polity. The research shows that active community groups build trust between citizens - trust that supports public health, eases the path of commerce, lowers the crime rate, and makes traditional politics possible.

Trust builds health, anger diminishes it. Inequality corrodes trust, equality supports it. Participation promotes equality, cynicism and apathy undercut it. Every day community groups give a heart and a hand and a face to a society that would otherwise have no connection to the trials and triumphs of our everyday lives.

Australian society is showing the strain as the community sector battles for attention, funds and support. The individuals and communities not-for-profits support are under stress from buffeting and corrosive multilateral forces - globalisation, rapid technological advancement, climate change, cultural shifts.

Join us May 29 - 30, 2017


As everything that is solid melts into air, as old meanings shift and flow, as demagogues stir up waves of grievance, we're thrown back to the basics:

  • Work together.
  • Help people.
  • Have fun.
  • Do something useful, and do it with all your might.
Come to Communities in Control and remind yourself how it's done!

Join us at Moonee Valley Racecourse,
McPherson Street, Moonee Ponds, Melbourne


Register your place today

2017 Conference speakers




Dr Sandhya Ramrakha

International guest speaker, health researcher, academic
Sandhya is Research Manager for the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Unit, where she manages the assessment phases of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study. Led by Professor Richie Poulton, this world-renowned study focuses on the health, development and wellbeing of a sample of more than 1000 New Zealanders, who have been studied at regular intervals since their birth in 1972-73.

Learn more about Dr Ramrakha





Benny Walker

Winner, Best Aboriginal Artist of the Year, 2016 The Age Music Victoria Awards
Indigenous singer/songwriter Benny Walker's love songs and epic tales are mixed with passion for the land, the people, summer vibes and deep grooves. Benny was awarded Victorian Indigenous Performing Arts Award for Best New Talent in 2012 and was crowned "2016 Best Aboriginal Act of the Year" at The Age Music Victoria Awards.

Learn more about Benny Walker






Prof. Amanda Sinclair

Author; visionary; academic; management and leadership guru
Amanda is an author, academic, teacher and consultant in areas of leadership, change, gender and diversity. Currently a Professorial Fellow at Melbourne Business School, much of Amanda's recent work has focused on bringing insights and evidence from meditative traditions, mindfulness and neuro-scientific research to enhancing leadership in corporate, community, medical and hospital, police, school, union, university, legal and government settings.

Learn more about Prof. Sinclair





Dr Rebecca Huntley

Social Researcher extraordinaire, author, social change analyst
Rebecca is one of Australia's foremost researchers on social trends, having spent years travelling the country, getting to know what's in our hearts and minds. Rebecca holds degrees in law and film studies and a PhD in gender studies. For nearly nine years, she was at the global research firm Ipsos, where she oversaw the seminal Mind & Mood Report, Australia's longest-running social trends report.

Learn more about Dr Huntley





Prof. Chris Sarra

Indigenous Advisory Council member; Chairman, Stronger Smarter Institute; Professor, University of Canberra; Director, Australian Rugby League Commission
Chris is an inspiring and passionate Australian educationalist of Italian and Aboriginal heritage and the founder and Chair of the Stronger Smarter Institute. In 1998, Chris became the first Aboriginal Principal of Cherbourg State School in south-east Queensland, where his leadership significantly improved the educational outcomes of its students.In 2004, Chris was named Queenslander of the Year, and in 2010 he was Queensland's nominee for Australian of the Year. In February 2017 he was announced as a member of the Federal Government's revamped Indigenous Advisory Council.

Learn more about Prof. Sarra




Richard Denniss

Intergenerational economic and social challenges leader
Richard is the Chief Economist at The Australia Institute, a progressive think tank that conducts research on a broad range of economic, social and environmental issues in order to inform public debate and bring greater accountability to the democratic process. Richard is known for his ability to translate economics issues into everyday language. He's published extensively in academic journals, has a fortnightly column in The Canberra Times and Australian Financial Review and was the co-author the best-selling Affluenza (with Dr Clive Hamilton).

Learn more about Richard Denniss





Ben Pentingill

Disability activist; role model; motivator
Ben is the blind guy who waterskies, coaches basketball teams without being able to see the ball, and has even driven a car. He is currently the only legally blind person in the world to have competed in a Spartan obstacle course race, untethered. He's not limited by circumstances and his potential is infinite. Ben is also the co-founder of Challenge on Purpose, through which teams participate in a variety of challenges that test them both physically and mentally while raising funds for organisations close to their hearts.

Learn more about Ben Pentingill





Prof. Cordelia Fine

Author; academic' researcher and gender bias expert
A professor in the History and Philosophy of Science program in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at the University of Melbourne, Cordelia is also an internationally acclaimed writer. Together, her three books have established her "reputation for exemplary clarity on complex topics, pleasing wit, feminist principle - and beneath it all, the animating faith that people can be improved through knowledge," as The Guardian (UK) put it.

Learn more about Prof. Fine





Prof. Martin Kyrgier

1997 Boyer Lecturer; academic; world leader in law and social theory
Martin is the Gordon Samuels Professor of Law and Social Theory at the University of New South Wales, co-director of its Network for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law, and Adjunct Professor at the Regulatory Institutions Network at Australian National University. He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences. His writings explore the moral characters and consequences of large institutions, among them law, state and bureaucracy.

Learn more about Prof. Kyrgier





Brett de Hoedt

Public relations expert
Brett is a media trainer and the founder of Hootville Communications, a public relations agency that serves not-for-profit clients. Prior to starting Hootville, Brett worked as a print journalist, talk radio host and publicist with various media organisations including Truth, New Idea, Channel 7, ABC TV, ABC radio and radio 3AK.

Learn more about Brett de Hoedt







Rodney Croome AM

Co-founder, Australian Marriage Equality; equality activist, social change pioneer
Rodney has been an advocate for LGBTI equality for almost 30 years. He led the successful campaign to decriminalise homosexuality in Tasmania and was the national director of Australian Marriage Equality until last year. He has also worked extensively on anti-discrimination laws, LGBTI issues in education and policing, gay blood donation and many other issues. He was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2003 and was Tasmanian Australian of the Year in 2015.

Learn more about Rodney Croome AM





Dr Sonja Hood

CEO, Community Hubs Australia
Sonja is the CEO of Community Hubs Australia, where she leads a national partnership with schools, government, corporates and philanthropy to engage culturally isolated women and pre-school children through place-based hubs in primary schools across Australia. She has more than 20 years of social policy and program experience in the US, UK and Australia, across the government, health and not for profit sectors.

Learn more about Dr Hood






Luke Hilakari

Secretary, Victorian Trades Hall Council
Luke is the Secretary of Victorian Trades Hall Council. Under his leadership, Victorian workers are taking grassroots action in unprecedented numbers to improve our working lives. Luke's experience organising some of Victoria's lowest paid workers drives him to fight for wage justice in Victoria. Under the banner of We Are Union, Victorian workers are leading the fight for progressive social change.

Learn more about Luke Hilakari






Meg Argyiou

Head of Engagement, ClimateWorks
Meg joined ClimateWorks in January 2010, working to lead the organisation's efforts to 'mainstream' Australia's zero net emissions opportunity, and to help spread this agenda into the Asia-Pacific region. Meg has co-authored the reports 'Improving Australia's Light Vehicle Fuel Efficiency', 'How to Make the Most of Demand Management' and the 'Impact of the Carbon Price Package'.

Learn more about Meg Argyiou






Matthew Phillips

Human Rights Co-Director, GetUp!
Matt is a seasoned campaign manager with extensive experience at Oxfam Australia and Oxfam Great Britain. He's currently the human rights co-director at GetUp! where he leads the No Business in Abuse campaign, which targets corporate involvement in mandatory detention of asylum seekers, and #LetThemStay, which aims to prevent the deportation to Nauru of hundreds of asylum seekers currently in Australia.

Learn more about Matthew Phillips



Get the Communities in Control podcast

Get the Communities in Control event app