Bright sparks to light up Communities in Control conference
By Matthew Schulz, journalist, Our Community
The talent that will illuminate Australia's most important community conference has been locked in, with final speakers confirmed for the event that all community leaders must have in their calendar.
Seventeen of the country's brightest sparks will be speaking at the conference, which takes place on May 18-19 in Melbourne under the banner "Connection, creativity, community: Finding hope in a climate of crisis."
We can now reveal that this year's annual Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration will be delivered by social justice advocate and veteran political commentator Paul Bongiorno.
Bongiorno, a political journalist and household name whose voice rumbled forth from television sets for generations, has been let off the leash as an independent commentator and now employs his unparalleled insider knowledge and investigative skills to root out the truth behind the headlines.
This year, he'll take aim at a political climate in which dissent is quelled, and share his insights into what can be done to ensure that social justice prevails.
Others joining the fray are a who's who of outspoken artists, intellectuals, experts, troublemakers, and the simply inspirational.
They are expected to provide a welcome antidote of hope and solutions to counter growing anxiety over the future of our environment, economy and government in the wake of terrible bushfires, the contagious coronavirus and the political morass.
Highlights of the event will include:
- Professor Hilary Bambick, renowned for her work on the health effects of climate change for the groundbreaking Garnaut Review, which predicted the 2020 bushfires
- Katie Noonan, acclaimed singer-songwriter, with an unforgettable musical performance
- Jo Dodds, president of Bushfire Survivors for Climate Action, welcomed by former Black Saturday bushfires royal commissioner Susan Pascoe
- Danielle Wood, the incoming chief of Australia's top public policy think tank the Grattan Institute, on the economics of equality
- Dr Fiona Kerr of the NeuroTech Institute, applying science to the power of human connection
- Georgina Dent, gender equity and mental health advocate, on bouncing back from crippling anxiety
- Tom Nash, a problem-solving DJ who survived a life-threatening illness but lost his arms and legs in the process
- Professory Kristy Muir, social impact expert, who spells out some new measures of progress
- Peter Colacino of Infrastructure Australia on why building community means more than roads, railways and bridges
- Dr Ranjan Srivastava, a leading oncologist, who reveals what she's learned from the terminally ill about the the importance of convictions
- Nicholas Gruen, top economist, who explains why "business as usual" won't do
- Peter Drew, the street artist known for his eye-catching "Aussie" posters depicting the country's diverse culture, in conversation with ex-ABC host and Victorian Law Foundation head Lynne Haultain
- Jessica Chistiansen-Franks and Lucinda Hartley, the urban-tech data crunchers from Neighbourlytics, on the communities they've found at the heart of their work.
The event is the favourite project of Our Community managing director Denis Moriarty.
Mr Moriarty handpicked speakers for the event, seeking a high proportion of younger thinkers and women who are "mavericks prepared to challenge the status quo".
"All of the talented people at this event are influencers in the true sense of the word. Whether inside institutions or troubling those in power, our guests have their hands on the levers of change," Mr Moriarty said.
He said the conference brochure's cover image of the famous "fearless girl" facing down the Wall St bull calls to mind 16-year-old Greta Thunberg.
"I see her as representing community groups, taking on the powerful when they hoped that she would just go away."
"But Australia's 600,000 community organisations are not going away, and more than ever we need new voices to speak up. There's never been a more important time to quit complaining, to step up, and to engage."
"Community groups have to find their voice like they've never found it before. And at this event, you'll be motivated to fight for your cause, alongside 1000 other delegates."
Expect also to be entertained, to develop new ways of thinking about communities, and to rub shoulders with the most influential and progressive people in the not-for-profit world.
Register now: communitiesincontrol.com.au