Activating community leadership to combat inequality

Communities in Control 2018

Activating community leadership to combat inequality

Conference will open 28 May 2018, Melbourne

Don't believe those who tell you otherwise:
Inequality is on the rise. And that needs to stop.


Inequality is bad for individuals. In more equal societies, people are happier and live longer.

It's bad for regions. Local governments know this, and have made it a focus.

Inequality is bad for the nation's health: more equal societies do better.

Inequality is bad for our economic development: more equal societies grow faster.

And it's bad for our political system. When special interests are allowed undue influence, we all lose out.

It's not easy to change the system, but it's a fight worth having.

While we're rolling up our sleeves, though, let's just agree on a few guidelines.

Being concerned about inequality doesn't just mean that we want to tax rich people more and ordinary people less. We need to continue the battle for redistribution of wealth - we need to ensure the government has enough money to spend on the people we're trying to help - but we have to go further.

The opposite of inequality isn't equality. We don't want a population of well-off citizens each living in a hermetically sealed bubble behind a white picket fence. The opposite of inequality is community. Local, global, and virtual.

We can't focus only on our own front yard, either. The challenges we face - climate change, mass migration, technological upheaval - are global. We have to address what's in front of us, certainly, but we need to lift our gaze as well. We have to recognise our responsibility for each other. We have to recognise our responsibility for what governments do in our name. We have to work together, as a community.

The late, great community campaigner Joan Kirner taught us to look towards children to learn what equality looks like. "That's not fair!" children exclaim when they see something that doesn't make sense, she told us. "Well, what are you going to do about it?" was always her reply. "Get together, get angry and get organised."

That's what we're going to be doing at Communities in Control 2018. Come and join us.


Tickets now available


You can now secure tickets to the 2018 conference with an online registration. Follow the link below for pricing and discount details.

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2018 Conference speakers


We can reveal that indomitable former Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs, Aboriginal truthseeker Stan Grant, millennial-on-a-mission Jamila Rizvi, and "venture capitalist for good causes" Philip Wollen OAM will be among the prominent Australians headlining the conference.

These four are among around a dozen speakers confirmed to grapple with the thorny topic of inequality at Australia's premier community sector conference, to be held in Melbourne on May 28-29, 2018. Stay tuned for a full program launch in late 2017.


Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration 2018

Professor Gillian Triggs

Former President Australian Human Rights Commission
Professor Triggs will give the Joan Kirner Social Oration, a landmark lecture previously delivered by luminaries including journalist and euthanasia campaigner Andrew Denton, TV personality Waleed Aly, and former Prime Minister The Hon Julia Gillard. Prof. Triggs was President of the Australian Human Rights Commission from 2012 to 2017. A prominent academic and international lawyer, Prof Triggs' stint at the helm of Australia's human rights watchdog was marked by her relentless pursuit of justice, particularly in relation to children in detention, and her refusal to yield to mounting political pressure to fall back.

Prof. Trigg's biography

Another Sorry Day: and no closer to equality

Stan Grant

Journalist, presenter
Stan Grant is the Indigenous Affairs Editor for the ABC and special advisor to the prime minister on Indigenous constitutional recognition. Following decades of work as a TV presenter both in Australia and overseas, Mr Grant rose to further prominence in 2015 when he delivered a speech on racism in Australia that shook many Australians' view of their country as an egalitarian nation. His 2016 book Talking to My Country has been similarly influential.

Stan's biography

In the house: The wit and wisdom of Annabel Crabb

Annabel Crabb

Writer, TV personality, ABC political journalist
Annabel Crabb is one of Australia's most beloved journalists and the writer and presenter of the groundbreaking documentary series set inside Parliament House, The House, with Annabel Crabb. At this year's conference, Annabel turns her eye to what it means to put communities in control.

Annabel's biography

Not just lucky: why women do the work but don't take the credit

Jamila Rizvi

Author, presenter, political commentator
Jamila Rizvi has been described as one of the pre-eminent voices of young Australian women online. A former editor-in-chief of Mamamia, she's now a regular fixture on talk shows including The Project, The Drum and ABC News Breakfast. Ms Rizvi's first book, Not Just Lucky, acts as a "career manifesto for millennial women," while her particular blend of irreverence and practicality has seen her touted as a serious political contender.

Jamila's biography

Not just people. Think of the animals.

Philip Wollen

Philanthropist, animal rights advocate
Philip Wollen is no accidental philanthropist. The former Vice-President of Citibank is known as a man of action, and he uses that to good effect in his work to promote kindness towards all other living beings, and to make that a "recognisable trait in the Australian character and culture". Mr Wollen's main project, Winsome Constance Kindness (named after his mother and grandmother), is a global initiative that emphasises ethics, compassion and cooperation.

Philip's biography

The state of the nation starts in your street

Hugh Mackay

Psychologist, social researcher, award winning author
Hugh Mackay is a psychologist, social researcher and the multi-award-winning author of 18 books. At this conference he will call for a renewed commitment to equality in all its forms. He believes the health of the nation depends on the health of our local neighbourhoods and communities, and he suggests we need to add a missing ingredient - compassion - to the national conversation about Australia's future.

Hugh's biography

Rebuilding our political system to nurture equality

Nicholas Gruen

CEO, Lateral Economics
Nicholas Gruen is a widely published policy economist, entrepreneur, and commentator on the economy, society and innovation. As the author of the Fairfax-Lateral Economics Index of Australia's Wellbeing, he regularly measures Australia's levels of wellbeing adjusting the national accounts numbers from which GDP is generated to take into account the environment, health, education,inequality and job satisfaction. Nicholas will explore the ways in which a new political system might be more hospitable to solving our social problems.

Nicholas's biography

How to change your community, your society and your thinking

Kathy Kelly

Motovational Speaker
Our first instinct is to switch off to stories of unimaginable tragedy, particularly when you're a parent. It's much easier to pretend that nothing bad will ever happen. But it does. And it happened to Kathy Kelly, twice. The Kelly's story isn't just about loss and immense grief. It's about resilience and courage and the determination to stand up and change a broken system.

Kathy's biography

Why society needs to change: a creative interlude with Jax the Artist

Jax Jacki Brown

Disability and LGBTIQ rights activist, writer, public speaker
Jax Jacki Brown is a disability and LGBTIQ rights activist, writer, public speaker, spoken-word performer and disability sexuality educator. She is a member of the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission's Disability Reference Group and a member of the Victorian Ministerial Council on Women's Equality. Jax will explore the intersection between LGBTIQ issues and disability rights, and highlight the inequalities that hold people back from reaching their full and effective participation on an equal basis with others.

Jax's biography

Everyday ethics: how to live better

Simon Longstaff

Executive Director, The Ethics Centre, author
Simon Longstaff's distinguished career includes being named one of AFR Boss magazine's True Leaders for the 21st century, with Carol Schwartz noting, "I don't know one CEO or chairman in corporate Australia who has not worked with Simon Longstaff." Longstaff is a Fellow of CPA Australia and an Honorary Professor at the Australian National University, where he is based at the National Centre for Indigenous Studies. He has served on a number of boards and committees across a broad spectrum of activities, including Our Community, was the inaugural president of the Australian Association for Professional & Applied Ethics, and is a former Fellow of the World Economic Forum.

Simon's biography

The future is now for our communities: it's time to act

Paul Higgins

Futurist
Paul Higgins combines his long experience in business, politics, and representative organisations with his training as a futurist to provide strategic advice to organisations and individuals. Paul has served on a number of boards, both commercial and not-for-profit, and is currently a member of the advisory board of the Future Business Council. He is also a partner at Social Venture Partners Melbourne, a chapter of a global venture philanthropy group that invests in innovative social startups.

Paul's biography

A Musical Performance

Kutcha Edwards

Musician, NAIDOC Indigenous Person of the Year 2001
Kutcha Edwards' music serves as a collection of stories told through song, coming from experiences in his own life and that of his friends and family. Through his music, Kutcha explores a range of issues, including the stolen generation, family, love, racism and beating alcoholism. His most recent album, BLAK & BLU, is a fusion of Kutcha's beautiful voice and soulful blues arrangements in a compilation of Kutcha's own songs and songs that have had an impact on him.

Kutcha's biography

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