Media Release

June 11, 2009

Australia's biggest community sector event, the Communities in Control Conference 2009, is on again and is addressing the question: how does community band together in times of crisis?

In the wake of disasters like floods, cyclones and bushfires, the swine flu outbreak and economic downturn, Communities in Control looks at what we can do to recover and how we can get the best out of ourselves in times of crisis.

The conference brings together 1500 people from Australia's not-for-profit and community sector, government and business, and covers community groups in fields as widespread as sport, education, indigenous affairs, social welfare, environment and health care.

Communities in Control brings together a smorgasbord of expert speakers on key issues including such luminaries as 2009 Australian of the Year Professor Mick Dodson and world-leading epidemiologist Professor Len Syme of Berkeley University speaking about why the most expensive public health campaigns can fail.

Also on the bill are National Youth Commission chair Major David Eldridge, to talk about citizens' commissions, futurist Richard Watson with his predictions on what Australia's social scene will look like in years to come, and columnist and comedian Catherine Deveny, searching the community landscape for the good, the bad and the ugly.

"In the past 12 months Australia's had more than its share of disaster," says Rhonda Galbally AO, chief executive of Our Community, "But the darker things get, the more communities seem to work together to get past the worst."

A highlight of the Communities in Control conference is the annual Great Debate chaired by former Victorian premier Joan Kirner. This year's debate features the somewhat controversial contention: "Income tax should be increased to assist with Australia's economic recovery." Debaters addressing it include former NT Chief Minister Clare Martin and disability rights activist Lorna Hallahan.

Now in its fifth year the Westpac Community Idol competition will pit three community groups against each other in front of the live audience for the honour of being named the country's best community group and take home thousands of dollars in cash and prizes. Finalists, selected from 500 nominations, include a group of mums who banded together to form the Cerebral Palsy Support Network, Edmund Rice Camps (SA) where just four employees manage to marshall more than 400 volunteers and the WA Aids Council which has gone far beyond their usual health promotion beat to fight for social justice for their key communities including same sex attracted youth and indigenous Australians. This year's Idol is hosted by comedian Wendy Harmer.

CONFERENCE: Communities in Control 2009; Crisis, Catastrophe, Community: Rebuild Renew, Recharge

VENUE: Moonee Valley Racing Club, McPherson Street, Moonee Ponds, Victoria.

WHEN: Monday and Tuesday June 15 & 16, 2009.


FURTHER INFORMATION: Phone (03) 9320 6800 or email to