In the battle for a fair go, it's time to put Communities in Control

Communities in Control 2018

In the battle for a fair go, it's time to put Communities in Control

Conference opened 28 May 2018, Melbourne

 

By Matthew Schulz, journalist, Our Community

A thousand community delegates from across the country have laughed, cried, been confronted, and been inspired by the only conference in the land with more powerful communities as its goal.

Australia’s progressive leaders, thinkers and doers converged for the two-day event aimed at “activating community leadership to combat inequality”.

Hosted at Melbourne’s Moonee Valley Racing Club, over Monday and Tuesday, May 28-29, observers marveled at the upbeat mood of delegates displaying the open-mindedness, determination and thirst for change that marks out our conference as unlike any other..

Those delegates weren’t left dismayed in their hope for useful "homework", as a baker’s dozen of great thinkers, achievers, activists and artists took to the stage to surprise, delight, and provoke.

We hope you like these pictures from the Communities in Control conference that we hosted last week. If you...

Posted by OurCommunity.com.au on Tuesday 5 June, 2018


MORE TO COME: We will post transcripts, audio and video of the event as they're available. In the meantime, scroll down for highlights about speakers including:

GillianTriggs, former Australian Human Rights Commission President

Stan Grant, ABC Indigenous Affairs Editor and PM’s advisor on aboriginal inequality

Mary Gentile, US education pioneer, on overcoming barriers to acting ethically

Jamila Rizvi, political commentator on why women do the work but don't take the credit

Annabel Crabb, political journalist on how communities in control could look

Philip Wollen, animal rights advocate, and ex-VP of Citibank, on animal suffering

Hugh Mackay, social researcher on why the state of the nation starts in your street

Nicholas Gruen, economist whose political ideals reference ancient Athens            

Kathy Kelly, who lost two sons to tragedy, then strove to change a broken system

Jax Jacki Brown, Disability and LGBTIQ rights activist on what’s holding us all back

Paul Higgins, professional futurist explains the keys to change

Kutcha Edwards, Indigenous musician and storyteller, who’ll open our conference

Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa, a Sikh slam poet with an eye to Aussie identity 

Ron MurrayIndigenous elder Ron Murray's powerful welcome to country sent a buzz through the room. Picture: Ellen Smith/esphotos.com.au

Inspiration you can act on

For community groups trying to do a lot with so little, the affordable event by Our Community remains a chance to take stock of the never-ending battle for resources and social change, to explore ways to do better with what we’ve got.

Our Community managing director Denis Moriarty was unapologetic about the progressive lineup, reflecting the social enterprise and B Corporation’s agenda of a business with a conscience.

He accepted this year’s theme of “activating community leadership to combat inequality” wasn’t something that’s going to come easily, but “it’s a fight worth having”.

And that “fight for good” is a big reason Communities in Control is the Our Community crew’s favourite time of year.

“It’s an incredible line-up of some of the most inquisitive, creative, courageous and forward-thinking Australians, a chance for all the community groups we’re so closely involved with to tap into new ways of doing things, and a once-a-year opportunity to catch up with old friends,” Mr Moriarty said.

Underneath it all though, each speaker added to a compelling case for what must be done for Australia to retain its mantle as the most liveable, welcoming and fair-minded place we’d like it to be.

“We know many of our delegates have walked out of this event changed people, more ready to take a stand, to take action and to do it more effectively,” Mr Moriarty said.

“I’m not a betting man, but since we were at the Moonee Valley Racecourse I’ll take any wager that this conference will change lives for the better.”

For some, the highlight of the event came early, as Wamba Wamba elder Ron Murray, sporting a cockatoo wreath, literally sent a buzz through the room with his didgeridoo then told yarns about his people, to mark the start of an unforgettable welcome to country.

Then, indigenous performer Kutcha Edwards (revisit our Facebook Live video stream) reminded the crowd they were in the middle of Reconciliation Week, before performing slow ballads that stirred the heart strings and reminded everyone of whose land the conference was on.

 

Gillian TriggsGillian Triggs delivered the Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration. Picture: Ellen Smith/esphotos.com.au

Gillian Triggs: Human rights at the heart of social justice oration

Campaigning former Human Rights Commission President Gillian Triggs’ keynote address (revisit some of our live Facebook stream here) at this year’s Communities in Control conference stoked the fire in the bellies of nearly 1000 delegates who converged in Melbourne for the annual event, as she urged each of them to take action to battle inequality wherever they found it.

Delivering the Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration in memory of the pioneering late Victorian Premier, Professor Triggs’ forceful address highlighted Australia’s need to regain its reputation as a land of fairness.

Once Australia was feted around the globe for its leadership in helping forge the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the model for any number of ant-discrimination and rights statements, but Professorr Triggs lamented that since 2001, “we have been in retreat in fundamental freedoms in Australia".

That was the year in which politicians turned the Norwegian freighter, the MV Tampa, into a name synonymous with Australian turning its back on refugees.

Months later, we were fed “the lie, the alternative fact, the false news” of allegedly Muslim refugees throwing their children overboard”.

“From that time on, we’ve seen a diminution of human rights,” she said.

But increasingly it was not-for-profits, charities and community groups that were having an impact on the politics of the time. And they need to take up the reins and advocate for good.

“If this conference is about Communities in Control, I say take that control, take that leadership that’s so lacking at the Federal level, to insist that fundamental human rights are recognised … ultimately through a charter of human rights.

Accepted any push for change “is not going to be easy”, there were signs that many in the community are prepared to act.

“We need the vision and the courage to argue for these principles," she said.

Afterward, reflecting on her speech Prof Triggs said the main message she aimed to deliver was this: “The communities have the power, they’ve just got to learn to use it.”

It was a fitting end to the two-day event that sparked tears and laughter, horror and delight, anger and sympathy, and above all: inspiration to act in the best interests of our communities.

MORE: Read the full speech (PDF) | Listen to the speech (MP3)

Stan GrantStan Grant made a fresh call for the consitutional recognition of indigenous rights. Picture: Ellen Smith/esphotos.com.au

Stan Grant: Sorry Day is not enough

A day earlier, outspoken indigenous leader Stan Grant delivered a stirring address, two days after National Sorry Day, and more than a decade after Kevin Rudd issued his apology to indigenous groups in Federal Parliament.

The accomplished TV journalist, who had seen the best and worst of humanity in his time covering history-shaking events across Europe, Asia and in Australia, told the audience that “the question of indigenous rights fits into a global struggle for justice, recognition, and liberalism”.

He said that recognition of indigenous groups remained as an essential ingredient for a world “awash with conflict”.

As the world is rocked by political turmoil, democracies collapse, or are challenged, Australia won’t escape the effects, he said.

And part of the antidote to that “collapse of trust” was to address the “fundamental spiritual sovereignty” of indigenous Australians, and the “profound and powerful Uluru statement”, which again seeks constitutional recognition for Australia’s first inhabitants.

“If those people who have carried the heaviest weight, and borne the greatest burden can present what Galarrwuy Yunupingu called a “gift to the nation”, The Uluru Statement … if indigenous people can present that to Australia at this time, it’s an extraordinary gift, and one that we should not be overlooked”.

Dr Mary Gentile: Ethics as a karate chop in the face of wrong

Brought to Australia with the support of the US Government, Dr Gentile came with a powerful solution to the ethical failures wracking many organisations across the world.

Striding the stage in a spirited performance, Dr Gentile described her “crisis of faith” having taught the captains of industry at Harvard Business School, yet repeatedly witnessing graduates from leading US universities later facing up to some of the biggest scandals, financial collapses and ethically-questionable behaviours in history.

She trawled through thousands of experiences from business leaders to ask: Why do some do the right thing, but not others?

“We couldn’t say one group of people were “more morally troubled”, or organisationally sophisticated or politically savvy.”

But she found there was a pattern, that often those prepared to act had rehearsed their actions, either through a teacher, a mentor, or a senior.

It was something that made sense to someone who had learnt the reflexes of a martial artist defending themselves by instinct or “muscle memory”.

As she put it: “Rather than asking them to think their way to a different way of action, ask them to act their way to a different way of thinking.”

 

Mary GentileMary Gentile at the CIC conference. Picture: Ellen Smith/esphotos.com.au

“When we get these tests of character, we almost dumb down and freeze. Which is why we need to practice all these skills.”

Dr Gentile has developed that skill into a system dubbed “Giving Voice to Value”.

“Giving voice to value is all about once you know what’s right, how do you get it done effectively? And what will the pushback be?”

Jamila RizviJamila Rizvi says successful women aren't "lucky". Picture: Ellen Smith/esphotos.com.au

Jamila Rizvi: Why women do the work, but don’t take the credit

Author, journalist, commentator and feminist Jamila Rizvi spelt out why Australian women are suffering a crisis of confidence about work, and why even when women do get to the top they explain their success away as “luck”.

She had the audience in stitches as she recounted a fundraising golf tournament, in which she’d been unlucky enough to be paired with “Mr Swagger” and “Mr the best clubs money can buy”, and their unswerving confidence in the face of underachievement. The only other woman on the team, a lawyer, was “paralysed with nerves”, despite being the best player.

It served as an anecdote for the way many other women tackle their careers, and a lesson in wrongheaded thinking.

“Do not mistake your hard-fought achievements as the product of luck. The success that comes from working hard, honing your talent and perfecting your skills is not luck,” Ms Rizvi said.

“Luck is a substitute for women's lack of confidence and our desire to be liked. It is one of the many ways we twist and turn ourselves inside out to please other people. To seem less powerful, less threatening, less likely to take up space that would otherwise be occupied by a man.”

Instead, she said, successful women should be “sharing that experience with others, to give a boost to the next generation by being open and generous with what we've learned”.

Philip Wollen

Animal activist Philip Wollen says it's time to change our ways. Picture: Ellen Smith/esphotos.com.au

Philip Wollen: Why what you eat can change the world

In a no-holds-barred address that wrenched delegates from their comfort zones, Philip Wollen urged people “try not to look away” as he showed gut-wrenching images of the reality of animal suffering in industries spun around their exploitation.

In what Our Community executive director Kathy Richardson rightly described as a “cold shower” for delegates, Mr Wollen steered his shocked audience on a tour-de-force of philosophy, stark statistics and emotion to argue that humans must turn away from meat.

“Animal rights is now the most important rights issue since the abolition of slavery. Because it protects the most important of things: Life.”

The cold, hard truth, he said, was that our current diets would eventual kill us, as well as the animals we are slaughtering.

“If everyone ate a western diet we would need two planet Earths, and that planet is dying,” he said.

“If any state was wreaking such havoc we would eliminate it, but we can’t - because it’s not a nation, … it’s a rogue industry.”

But “the good news is we don’t have to bomb it - we can just stop buying it”.

And the solution was looking us in the face.

“Veganism is the Swiss army knife of the future. It will solve the political, environmental, social and economic challenges we face.”

He urged “men and women of integrity” to speak out, quoting Ghandi to illustrate his point that change would come.

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

Unsurprisingly, many of the ham sandwiches offered at the lunch break soon after were left untouched.

Annabel CrabbAnnabel Crabb says change is possible and in the hands of men and women. Picture: Ellen Smith/esphotos.com.au

Annabel Crabb: Wit and wisdom of a woman in politics

Popular ABC personality and political journalist Annabel Crabb was among the audience favourites — posing for pictures before riffing widely on her dealings with high-profile politicians such as the beleagured Barnaby Joyce, and her recent appearance in Britain commentating about the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meaghan Markle.

But at the heart of her speech was the massive divide between women and men in the home and workplace, a theme she’s spelt out in her book The Wife Drought and its premise, “why women need wives and men need lives”.

As she put it “things won’t change at work, unless they change at home first”.

There were murmurs in the audience as she pointed out that both men and women will benefit from a readjustment of expectations that will raise women’s incomes and improve men’s lives.

“This is the way change happens. One guy takes parental leaves, and he comes back and he’s still alive, and then the next year there’s more.”

And, as with all the conference speakers, she stressed it was the very people in the audience with the power in their hands.

“Everyone in this room is a vital part of this kind of change.

“I’ve changed my views quite a lot —  I’ve made a hundred resolutions, most of which include checking my assumptions. I’ve stopped being angry when women executives are asked how they juggle their responsibilities — I get angry when men aren’t asked.”

Hugh Mackay

Hugh Mackay's message hit home. Picture: Ellen Smith/esphotos.com.au

Hugh Mackay: Why strong community starts in your street

Social researcher Hugh Mackay’s message about the primacy of community in the strength of our nation is a consistent message he’s presented in one form or another over his lengthy career as an insightful observer.

He told Communities in Control it was his fifth appearance, but his intellect, wit and observation remain as sharp as ever. 

This year he spoke passionately about the dangers of social fragmentation, and its antidotes — compassion and community.

The signs of trouble: rising rates of suicide, shrinking families and households, increased workloads with less time for the neighbours, increased mobility, and the disconnection that can come from social media.

“If you look at all those kinds of changes, it’s pretty clear that … local neighbourhoods and communities are going to be less cohesive, people less comfortable, more likely to say “we don’t know our neighbours”.

“When people feel more disconnected from each other, they’re also more likely to feel less trustful. This also fuels “rampant individualism”, a consequence of fragmentation.

Yet, Mr Mackay points out “we are born to belong”, and that strengthening our communities will help each one of us, and our society.

“We ourselves can transform street by street, community by community … because when it comes to character and values of our society, who else is it up to, apart from us? Everyone knows how to act like a neighbour when there’s a crisis, (but) wouldn’t it be a tragedy if we overlooked our neighbours except when there’s a tragedy.”

Nicholas GruenEconomist Nicholas Gruen has proposed an ancient method of citizenship to bring civility back to politics. Picture: Ellen Smith/esphotos.com.au

Nicholas Gruen: Powerful new politics in random selection

Lateral Economics CEO Nicholas Gruen is used to thinking differently when it comes to solving economic problems, and his insightful presentation to this year’s conference proposes a novel solution to our political ills.

A form of citizen juries, or citizen’s house in Parliament, he believed, held the key to real representation in government.

That random selection of citizens that alreaady sits in judgement in the courts, he told the audience, was a tried and true method that could also help us steer us all from bad decisions in government.

He demonstrated both figures, anecdotes and analysis pointed to a shocking rise of both social inequality and political polarisation across the western world, as those political systems failed to adequately represent the interests of their countries.

And while many considered the election of DonaldTrump and Brexit as “the great earthquake”, Australia’s political turning point may have come much earlier.

Australia’s decision to reject a price on carbon, for example, flew in the face of logic and political and public support, in a time in which the nation's politics had been “captured by the entertainment sector”.

“We think of politics as activism, as hostility, but ultimately it has to be about cooperation. We evolved to cooperate in groups, we’re good at that, better than any other species.”

His concept of a “Citizens House” or “Peoples’ Chamber”, sitting alongside a House of Representatives and a Senate would generate a new layer of government with citizen members selected by lot to bring “activism” and “good politics” back into the system.

These could provide a good counter to the problems that are wracking our current system, with powers to delay legislation or impose a secret ballot on other chambers — such as for decisions on carbon trading, for example.

“Imagine if you could not go to a war, except with a strong vote from a citizens’ assembly. We would feel a lot calmer, less “spun” to,” he said.

“That’s what democracy is about, not some kind of entertainment show by a couple of guys who claim they are our leaders.”

Kathy Kelly

Kathy Kelly preached a combination of resilience and kindness to push for change. Picture: Ellen Smith/esphotos.com.au

Kathy Kelly: Rising above tragedy to fix a broken system

Mother, turned activist, Kathy Kelly suffered the unthinkable, twice.

Son Thomas died after being struck in an unprovoked and fatal one-punch attack in Kings Cross.

Then, while still recovering from that loss, her other son Stuart committed suicide in the wake of a hateful social media campaign targeting their family, who had backed the NSW Government’s controversial late night “lock out” laws aimed at cracking down on alcohol-fuelled violence.

At first, many in the audience were numbed by what they heard as Ms Kelly recounted her awful tale.

Yet her ability to turn that grief and anger into a desire to change Australian laws for the better showed everyone the power of truth, determination, resilience … and kindness.

Her efforts had changed judicial laws, liquor licensing, alcohol promotion regulations, violence prevention initiatives and victim advocacy programs, to name just a few.

“We can change the world with kindness. Smiling more, paying it forward. Just try it, there are so many ways,” she said.

 

Jax Jacki Brown: LGBTIQ and disability activist rolls out raunchy lines

If anyone was in doubt about Jax Jacki Brown’s stance, her T-shirt “Piss on Pity” said it all.

In a performance both confronting and hilarious, Jax’s saucy poems poked fun at public ignorance in a playful and naughty fashion.

Video: Watch some of our live Facebook stream of Jax here.

From the sexually-charged safety strips at railway stations she dubbed a "federally funded DIY vibrator", to her love poem to a shopping trolley, Jax had the audience hooked on her ribald take on sexuality and disability.

But behind it all, was a loud and proud message.

“I know love, I know how to give it and receive it, and I deserve it. Queer, political, radical, proud. Love is revolution.” 

Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa: Sikh slam poet skewers Aussie identity 

And Sukhjit’s snappy performance (that's her face on our video at the top) took delegates on a lightning tour of what it means to be a Sikh women in Australia in a witty rap that many felt was a highlight of the event. Here's a taste:

"My people, the Sikhs, came here in 1860 with camels and carts and courageous hearts and look at the maxi Taxi, we’re still driving and steering this country in offices and hospitals and even on stage.

So when people tell me and my family to go home to where we came from, I reply with a smile, tongue-in-cheek, ‘mate, we’ve been right at home for the past 150 years!’

I’m not the one that’s a freak, I’m fully Sikh.” Video: Revisit our Facebook stream of Sukhjit here

 

Jax BrownJax Jacki Brown is not interested in your pity . Picture: Ellen Smith/esphotos.com.au

 

Paul Higgins

Futurist Paul Higgins says just because you can't see the future, doesn't mean you can't plan for it. Picture: Ellen Smith/esphotos.com.au

Paul Higgins: The future is in your hands

The only promise about the future that Paul Higgins could guarantee was this, “If anyone tells you they can say what will happen, I will only guarantee one thing — it will be wrong”.

His point? You can grasp the shape of the future, but the details are being worked out along the way.

“It’s about understanding the evolution of change,” he said.

For instance, “While we haven’t really changed much in the last thousand years in an evolutionary sense, the problems we faced a thousand years ago are very different from those we face today.”

Among those big swings include a once-in-a-century upheaval of our transport system courtesy of ride-sharing, a once-in-200-year change of the energy system as solar power takes hold and the swift rise of artificial intelligence that is changing the capacity of many.

While visitors from 80 years ago might now be stunned by the modern world, someone from the ‘70s might just shrug at what appears to be relatively “subtle changes”, as he illustrated that change can to transform the world in ways that aren't necessarily obvious.

That’s why he said it was  better to "understand the strategic landscape of what might happen and how you can use that”.

And that, he said, is the key to knowing where to properly allocate your resources, particularly for the not-for-profit sector, which may be very good about the “why” or purpose of their existence, but has less of a grasp on the “why of action”.

“I want you to think about one thing: How do I think about the strategic landscape that I’m working in, to better understand it and build better organisations?”

He recommends a map that explains innovation as developing along the lines of “genesis”, “customisation”, “product” and “utility”.

Hard to follow the thread of this or any other of these presentations?

Don’t worry, we’ll post a full transcript of Paul Higgins' speech and most others as soon as we can. You'll be able to view them on this page, or on the Communities in Control website.

Finally: The power to change things

Summing up a huge two days, Our Community’s Denis Moriarty said he hoped delegates would use what they’d learnt.

“It would be terrible if we all took these two days to get fired up about combatting inequality and then just went back to situation-normal once we got home.”

Referring to the late Victorian Premier who inspired the keynote speech, he said, “as Joan Kirner always said – get angry, then get organised.”

“See you next year. Go change the World.”

 



More about why we hosted this conference


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 were doing at Communities in Control 2018. Come and join us next year.



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2018 Conference speakers


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

Ethical Leadership: Giving Voice to Values

Dr Mary C. Gentile

Leadership Education Pioneer
American leadership guru Mary Gentile has pioneered a leadership development approach, Giving Voice to Values, that starts from the assumption that most of us mean well. In this presentation, Mary will help us to learn the practical steps we can take to leap over, around or through the barriers that inevitably arise along the way between our ethical intentions and our actions.


Funding provided by the United States Government

Mary's biography

How to change your community, your society and your thinking

Kathy Kelly

Motivational 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

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

Paul Higgins

Futurist, Chair of the Future Business Council advisory board
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

An Artistic Reflection

Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa

Spoken word artist, educator, performer and human rights reformer
Sukhjit is passionate about diversity and the importance of visibility in the performing arts and inherently merges her advocacy background with the arts. Her work predominantly provokes conversations around Australian identity, feminism, cultural confusions, and the power of uncomfortable conversations.

Sukhjit's biography

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Added 29 May 2018

Dr Mary C. Gentile

Ethical Leadership

Most of us want to act ethically, but it's not always that simple. We start with the best of intentions but then we bang up against the realities of what the boss wants, the clients are shouting at us, the kids need us to get home, and we haven't had a proper holiday in a thousand years. American leadership guru Mary Gentile knows all about it.

Added 29 May 2018

Kathy Kelly

How to change your community, your society, and your thinking

Kathy Kelly lost two sons to tragedy, then strove to change a broken system. Her story reveals how bad things can happen to the best of us. If your life was changed by tragic yet entirely preventable events, what would it take for you to focus on finding solutions so nobody else need suffer the same grief?

Added 29 May 2018

Hugh Mackay

The state of the nation starts in your street

Hugh Mackay calls 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 compassion to the national conversation about Australia's future.

Added 29 May 2018

Jax Jacki Brown

Why society needs to change: a creative performance

Jax's work explores the intersection between LGBTIQ issues and disability rights, and highlights the inequalities that hold people back from reaching their full and effective participation on an equal basis with others.

Added 29 May 2018

Prof. Gillian Triggs

Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration 2018

Sometimes, those who try to change the world for the better are forced to deal with criticism from those who would much rather things stayed the same. Professor Gillian Triggs' five-year stint at the helm of Australia's human rights watchdog exemplifies this. We all need to ignore the critics if we are to lead change.