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Social Justice in the Neoliberal Age

Bold Thinking Social Justice

In the final event of its “Better Australia?” series, La Trobe University’s Ideas and Society Program invites you to join a conversation between two of this country’s most perceptive and respected social justice advocates and activists—Cassandra Goldie CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services and Frank Brennan SJ CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia.

Wednesday 14 November 2018 06:15pm to 08:00 pm

Australians support the quest for social justice or what more commonly they call the idea of the “fair go”. Recently, Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared, “I believe in a fair go for those who have a go”. Shortly after, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten announced Labor’s “fair go action plan”.

In the final event of its “Better Australia?” series, La Trobe University’s Ideas and Society Program invites you to join a conversation between two of this country’s most perceptive and respected social justice advocates and activists—Cassandra Goldie CEO of the Australian Council of Social Services and Frank Brennan SJ CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia.

Cornelia (Conny) Lenneberg, Executive Director, Brotherhood of St Laurence will facilitate this event.The event will also feature a welcome address from La Trobe’s Vice Chancellor, Professor John Dewar.

The questions they will be considering include: How far do we have to go before we can call ourselves a “fair go society”? Regarding the quest for social justice, what are the most important differences between the Coalition and the Labor Party? Do we still live in a neoliberal age, one that believes in small government and the superior wisdom of the market? Does neoliberalism threaten the quest for social justice? Is neoliberalism losing its grip?  How successful have we recently been in tackling poverty and homelessness; income, gender and generational inequality; unemployment, disability, and mental illness? Why have we treated asylum seekers and refugees who arrive by boat so harshly? Why has the perennial problem of indigenous disadvantage proven to be so intractable? And most importantly—how can a better Australia, the fair go Australia of our self-conception, be built?

To avoid disappointment book early. Interest is likely to be high.

Speaker Bios

Frank Brennan

Father Frank Brennan SJ AO is a Jesuit priest and CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia. He is superior of the Jesuit community at Xavier House in Canberra.

He is professor at the P M Glynn Institute at the Australian Catholic University and research professor at the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. He chaired the National Human Rights Consultation for the Rudd Government and more recently has been a member of the Turnbull Government’s expert panel conducting the Religious Freedom Review.

His latest books are No Small Change: The Road to Recognition for Indigenous Australia, Amplifying That Still, Small Voice, The People’s Quest for Leadership in Church and State and The 2015 Gasson Lectures: Maintaining a Convinced and Pondered Trust.

An Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for services to Aboriginal Australians, particularly as an advocate in the areas of law, social justice and reconciliation, he was the recipient of the Migration Institute of Australia’s 2013 Distinguished Service to Immigration Award and of the 2015 Eureka Democracy Award in recognition of his endeavours which have contributed to strengthening democratic traditions in Australia.

When launching Frank’s book Acting on Conscience on the place of religion in Australian politics and law, Kevin Rudd described Frank as ‘an ethical burr in the nation’s saddle’. Earlier during the 1998 Wik debate, Paul Keating labelled him ‘the meddling priest’. The National Trust has classified him as a Living National Treasure.

Frank serves on the board of the National Apology Foundation and on the Advisory Council of the Global Foundation. His research interests include conscience and faith, human rights and the rule of law, and the rights of Indigenous peoples and asylum seekers.

Cassandra Goldie

Dr Cassandra Goldie

Dr Cassandra Goldie has been CEO of ACOSS since July 2010. With public policy expertise in economic and social issues, civil society, social justice and human rights, Cassandra has represented the interests of people who are disadvantaged, and civil society generally, in major national and international processes as well as in grassroots communities. Prior to joining ACOSS, Cassandra held senior roles in both the NFP and public sectors, including as Director of Sex and Age Discrimination with the Australian Human Rights Commission, Director and Principal Solicitor with the Darwin Community Legal Service and Senior Executive with Legal Aid in Western Australia.

Cassandra has a PhD from the University of New South Wales, a Masters of Law from University College London and is an Adjunct Professor with the Faculty of Law, UNSW. A graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Cassandra serves on the Advisory Committee for the Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law, as a member of the UNSW Grand Challenge on Inequality and Law Advisory Committees and the Management Committee of the International Council of Social Welfare.

Cassandra was recognised as one of the Inaugural Westpac/Australian Financial Review 100 Women of Influence in 2012 and selected as an AFR/BOSS True Leader in 2013. In 2014, she was voted one of the Impact 25 Most Influential People in the Social Economy and recognised by the AFR in 2015 on their Annual Overt Power List. In 2018, Cassandra was recognised as one of Australia’s top 50 Outstanding LGBTI Executives by Deloitte.

Conny Lenneberg

Conny Lenneberg

Conny Lenneberg is Executive Director of the Brotherhood of St Laurence, which works towards an Australia free of poverty through its services, research and national advocacy. She is the first woman to lead the organisation since its founding in 1930.

Conny grew up in Melbourne’s west, the daughter or post-war European immigrants, and attended state schools. She benefited from the opportunities Australia offers and is passionate that those opportunities be available to others. She has shown a deep commitment to addressing the root causes of poverty and disadvantage throughout her career, with 25 years’ experience in the development and social justice sector, ranging from service delivery in the field to leading large teams and senior executive and board roles. She led World Vision International’s organisation and programs in the Middle East and Eastern Europe for more than six years and has also served as a senior manager at Australian Volunteers International. Her record of embracing challenges and complex assignments overseas includes leading the Syria crisis and community development in Afghanistan.

In Australia, her achievements include enabling partnerships with indigenous communities, government and business to build program strengths in Central Australia and the Pilbara. Conny has a Master of Arts (Research) from La Trobe University and in 2017 was awarded an honorary doctorate as one of the university’s most distinguished graduates.

John Dewar

Prof John Dewar

Professor Dewar is the Vice-Chancellor and President of La Trobe University, a position he has held since January 2012.

Professor Dewar is a graduate of the University of Oxford, where he was also a Fellow of Hertford College from 1990-1995. He taught at the Universities of Lancaster and Warwick in the UK, and worked for the London law firms Allen & Overy and Farrer & Co.

Professor Dewar came to Australia in 1995, and held senior leadership positions at Griffith University and the University of Melbourne, where he was Provost, before taking up the position of Vice-Chancellor of La Trobe.

Professor Dewar is a Director of Universities Australia and UA Lead Vice-Chancellor on Workforce issues; a member of the AHEIA Executive Committee; a Director of Education Australia Pty Ltd; a Director of the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Research Institute; and a Director of AARNet.

He is an Adjunct Professor in the Melbourne Law School, an Honorary Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford and an Adjunct Professor in the La Trobe Law School.

His previous appointments include member of the Attorney-General’s Family Law Pathways Advisory Group (2000-1), Chair of the Family Law Council (2001-4), Chair of the Queensland College of Teachers (2006-9), member of the Advisory Council of the Australian Institute of Family Studies (2007-11), Chair of the Victorian Vice-Chancellors’ Committee (2014-5), Chair of the Innovative Research Universities (2014-6), and Chair of the Victorian Student Planning Advisory Group for the Victorian Department of Health (2016-7). He was a member of the Advisory Board for the Centre for Ethical Leadership at the Melbourne Business School and Ormond College from 2010-2016. In 2014, he chaired the Legislation and Finance Working Group for the Federal Education Minister.