Get Angry. Then Get Organised.

Communities in Control 2019

Get Angry. Then Get Organised.

Conference opened 20 May 2019, Melbourne
Tracey SpicerTracey Spicer enthralled the conference with tales of her "bogan" early life and battles for recognition. Picture: Ellen Smith

How the 2019 conference is going to keep shaking things up

Two days after the shock federal election result, the Communities in Control conference couldn’t have come at a better time for organisations fearing for the future, with its clarion call to “Get Angry. Then Get Organised.”

As they took in the spine-tingling welcome to country powered by Uncle Ron Murray’s didgeridoo, first-time delegates knew from the start that this would be no ordinary conference.

This event would generate inspiration, hope, and very personal connections.

Without exception, each speaker brought home the message “We’re here to change things for the better.”

One of the major highlights was the "apology to refugees" delivered by Refugee Legal executive director David Manne, fuelled by an unmatched understanding of the issue generated over 20 years in the field. Scroll down for details about how you can make a difference.

And by the time Professor Helen Milroy wound up the event with a stirring Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration about our responsibility to the children on our watch, 1000 delegates had restoked the fire in their bellies.

Our June edition of Our Community Matters is a tribute to every delegate and every speaker who added their spark. We hope alongside our extras online, that it brings great memories, and gives those who couldn’t make it a sense of what drives our organisation on.

You should also scroll down this page, for more information about all the speakers, with transcripts and videos of all of their presentations available as soon as they're ready. 

Mariam V

Mariam Veiszadeh inspired delegates to think differently about privilege and ways to work better together. Picture: Ellen Smith

Early on in the event, many of the delegates converging at Moonee Valley Racecourse in Melbourne were still coming to terms with what it all meant for community advocates, progressives, activists and grassroots groups.

And that’s where the conference kicked in, bringing the direction and hope everyone so craved, as well as an answer: “Get Angry. Then Get Organised.”

Spanning a range of passions and causes – climate change, refugees, gender equity, indigenous rights, social justice – a parade of fearless campaigners, mavericks, advocates and artists sparked tears, fury, applause, and a determination to do better. 

Group managing director Denis Moriarty said his program was unapologetically progressive and provocative with inspirational talks from activist priest Rod Bower, outrageous trailblazer Lee Lin Chin, uncompromising refugee advocate David Manne and #metoo campaigner Tracey Spicer, as well as a showcase of radical ideas by community innovators and much more.

“This is all about making Australia and the world a better place through powerful community organisations taking charge of their own destinies,” Mr Moriarty said.

Of course, the beating heart of the conference were the stirring performances by indigenous performers Ron Murray and Emily Wurramara, as well as Aussie folk legend Shane Howard, who had everyone singing the same tune.

Listen to what activist priest Father Rod Bower had to say about this year's conference

Ending as the conference started – with a call to action – Professor Helen Milroy in the Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration centred on the needs of children – especially Indigenous kids – and urged us all to “remember to fight for the right things”.

For Mr Moriarty, it was another reminder about the real driver of the conference: the delegates: “You make this event. It’s your interaction, your attendance and your infection that you create going out into the communities. Now go change the world!”

We hope what you see here will trigger great memories from the event, and for those who couldn’t make it, we  hope you’ll be inspired to register for Communities in Control, May 18-19, 2020.

Full transcripts, podcasts, video and audio of most Communities in Control presentations will be posted on this site as soon as they become available:

During the Community Innovations showcase at the conference, we highlighted the efforts of four organisations doing things differently to great effect. Here's a taste.

The Apology: To the refugees, we say sorry

If you're looking for highlights from the event, one of them must be David Manne's powerful apology to refugees and asylum seekers, the one we will have to give in the year 2030.

"Prime minister, the names of those who lost their lives must be spoken.

Australia cannot be measured only through its successes, beauty and achievements - Manus and Nauru is part of that history."

(WATCH HERE)  to hear in full why he says we must make redress for the conditions they are forced to endure in offshore detention camps.

Since we have your attention, help us and David's Refugee Legal team do something to address these wrongs.

Take action today!


CIC 2019 crowd Delegates at this year's conference were given plenty of reasons to make things change. Picture: Ellen Smith

What drives us to host this conference each year

When Bob Dylan sang the times they are a'changin' he was well ahead of the curve. Change is occurring in our communities at an unprecedented rate. The white-bread towns and suburbs we grew up in are now selling injera and hokkaido. Women are shouting, "Me too!" and "Time's up!" Gay people are getting hitched. Refugees are fighting back, shining a light on their plight tweet by agonizing tweet. Entire towns are opting out of the black power grid. The downtrodden, the ignored, the maligned and the disenfranchised are shouting, "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore." And finally people are starting to listen. The ground is shifting. For those on the frontlines of the battles for social justice, it can at times feel like a slow grind. They poke and prod at society's constricting structures, sometimes breaking through, many times watching as the holes scab over. For those happy with the status quo, the pace of change can seem inexorable and startlingly rapid. They buy Bandaids in bulk. So how do we proceed? Tear it down and damn the consequences, or slow and steady wins the race? Is there a place in between? We are the government. We are communities. It's up to us to decide. That's what Communities in Control 2019 was all about. 

Our Community Matters special post-conference edition

Download PDF

Explore the 2019 program

Download PDF brochure (4.9mb)  




Stay up-to-date

To keep up with conference news and be a part of the Communities in Control Movement, we encourage you to:


Added 21 May 2019

Dr Phoebe Wynn-Pope

The Apology: A Response

Phoebe Wynn-Pope, the daughter of Australia's 22nd Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, responds to David Manne's apology to refugees.

Added 21 May 2019

Mariam Veiszadeh

Identifying Privilege

People with the most privilege often don't admit or aren't even aware they have it. But the inability to recognise personal privilege has serious consequences, acting as a roadblock to diversity. Is there a solution that will make people recognise their privilege and level the playing field?

Added 21 May 2019

Prof. Helen Milroy

The 2019 Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration

How can we improve as a society if we avoid taboo topics of discussion? How can we improve as a society if our default is denial and disbelief? The wicked issues of our time will never go away until we as a society face them head on and pledge to address them. It's time to make some noise.

Added 21 May 2019

Dr Jason Fox

Change the Game: Craft a culture fit for the future

Sometimes it's a question of momentum: how can an organisation hold onto all the best elements of its culture in the midst of rapid growth? If you want your people to be on board as the champions of your organisational culture, then they need to understand the science behind what drives collective behaviour.

Added 21 May 2019

Lee Lin Chin

Trailblazing: Navigating without a map

How do you achieve your goals if there are no examples for you to follow? How do you get from A to B if there hasn't been anyone before you to create a roadmap? Over her 30-year career as a newsreader on SBS, Lee Lin Chin has inspired many, forging a new path for others to follow.