Media Release

FEBRUARY 12, 2003                            


THE powerful work of community groups and their impact on Australia's health and wellbeing will take centre stage along with some world experts in a major conference to be held in April.

The first Communities in Control: Giving Voice - and support - to grass roots community and non-profit groups conference will explore the growing evidence that a community being "in control" is a decisive factor in improving community wellbeing.

The conference, to be held in Melbourne at the Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre on April 7-8, has been organised by and Fr Joe Caddy, Executive Director of Catholic Social Services with the support of the Pratt Foundation, the Federal Department of Family and Community Services and Victorian Department of Human Services.

Dr Rhonda Galbally AO, the chief executive of said the conference was about recognising the value of strong community groups and the enormous benefits they provide for Australia's towns and suburbs and their continued sustainability.

"Australia's 700,000 community groups have an incredible social and financial impact on our lives yet often don't get the respect or recognition their work deserves," Dr Galbally said.

"This conference is about inspiring community groups and also inspiring governments and decision-makers to work together with community groups to find suitable solutions.

Speakers include:    
  • The Hon. AMANDA VANSTONE, Federal Minister, Family and Community Services
  • PROFESSOR FIONA STANLEY, AC, the current Australian of the Year and CEO, Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth.
  • SIR GUSTAV NOSSAL AC, CBE, one of our most eminent community leaders, former Australian of the Year, and leading authority on immunisation and health.
  •  The Hon. BRONWYN PIKE, Victorian Minister for Health
  • PHILLIP ADAMS, AO, Broadcaster and Social Commentator

Two world leaders on the impact of community groups on health and wellbeing will address the conference as the first Pratt community Fellows, thanks to the support of the Pratt Foundation. They are:

  • EMERITUS PROFESSOR LEN SYME, School of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • PROFESSOR LISA BERKMAN, Professor of Public Policy and Epidemiology and Chair, Department of Health and Social Behavior at Harvard School of Public Health.
For more information on the full list of speakers and workshop participants download the full program at

Fr Joe Caddy said the conference would enrich community groups: "I just see this conference as enriching the community sector and providing a bit of inspiration but also instilling a bit of confidence that the community is doing a good job out there - often without reward or recognition."

Fr Caddy said he hoped that those involved in community capacity building across all levels of Government and the grantmaking community would also view the conference as an opportunity to learn from the community groups themselves.

"I would hope this would inform policymakers and people involved in decisions on community capacity building.  I think that some of the experience and learnings of the speakers on the program along with the experience and learnings of the people attending will lead to a terrific cross-pollination of ideas and insights.

"It will be a huge benefit for Government to meet with and listen to the communities and hear the roles they do play and can play. And also to work closer with the community groups who are the great mediating organisations between the Governments and the people.  It's a way of discovering new ways of collaborating for a more inclusive community."

CONFERENCE: Communities in Control: Giving Voice - and support - to grass roots community and non-profit groups

WHERE: Darebin Arts & Entertainment Centre, Cnr Bell St and St Georges Rd, Preston.

WHEN: April 7-8, 2003

HOW MUCH? Only $150 for the two days, includes lunch and refreshments on both days.

HOW TO REGISTER: Brochures and registration forms can be downloaded from or by emailing or calling (03) 9320 6801.

Media inquiries: Brian Walsh (w) (03) 9320 6813