Our ability to personally help, collectively advocate, and bring about social change—as one Society with a united voice—will be at the heart of the October congress. This is a source of great excitement and joy, but not without a certain sense that we are venturing into unknown spaces.
We have the right and the duty to be passionate about the fate of the people who face a daily struggle against not just material poverty, but also a degrading sense of loneliness made even harder to bear due to heightened social, political and economic disrespect.
Our privileged vocation of being accompanied on our journey by these People of God, the oppressed and downtrodden, is something that is deeply spiritual, deeply human. As the Society prepares for and seeks to shape the future, we need more than tactics; we need vision. For, as the Book of Proverbs (29:18) puts it so pertinently for us, ‘Where there is no vision the people perish’.
To this end, it is with great pleasure that we are able to announce that two of the keynote speakers who will be helping us to reflect on our vision are Mr Phil Glendenning and Professor Larissa Behrendt.
Keynote speaker on Friday 6 October: ‘Daily acts of solidarity’
Phil Glendenning is Director of the Edmund Rice Centre and the President of The Refugee Council of Australia.
He is primarily involved in human rights advocacy and education, peace and reconciliation work, and raising awareness of the impact of climate change on marginalised peoples.
His search for people the Australian government has forcibly relocated has taken him to Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Rwanda, and Colombo.
He has served on the Boards of the Australian Council for Social Service (ACOSS), various committees of the Australian Council for Overseas Aid, and the Centre for an Ethical Society.
He has been presented with several awards and titles for his work in human rights advocacy and education, including an Honorary Doctorate by the Australian Catholic University, the Sir Ron Wilson Award for Human Rights (by the Australian Council for International Development (ACFID), and most recently, an award for Advocacy from Baptistcare in Western Australia.
Music is one of his escapes. When he is not working, he has played in a rock ‘n’ roll band for many years, and occasionally still does.
Keynote speaker on Saturday 7 October: ‘Sign of the times’
Professor Larissa Behrendt is a Eualeyai/Kamillaroi woman with a passion for telling stories about Indigenous Australians. She is also Professor of Law and Director of Research at the Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning at the University of Technology, Sydney.
She was admitted by the Supreme Court of NSW to practice as a solicitor in 1992. And in 2000 was admitted by the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory to practise as a barrister.
Her screen credentials include writing and directing the Walkley nominated feature length documentary film, Innocence Betrayed, which aired on NITV in 2014. The film looks at the murder of three Aboriginal children in the NSW town of Bowraville.
Her works of fiction include the novel Home, which won the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards, The David Unaipon Award in 2002, and the Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for Best First Novel in the south-east Asian/South Pacific region in 2005. Another novel, Legacy, won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Prize for Indigenous Writing (2010).
In 2009 Larissa was named NAIDOC person of the year.