Why Communities in Control is good for the soul

Posted on 07 Feb 2023

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A selection of this year's Communities in Control speakers (L-R): Craig Foster, Julianne Schultz, Marlikka Perdrisat, Holly Ransom, Antoinette Lattouf, Simon Longstaff, Lachlan McIver, Anjalee de Silva.

Australia’s biggest conference for community leaders, Communities in Control, has set a new challenge to define the soul of our nation.

Each May, nearly 1000 delegates gather in Melbourne and online to seek inspiration and knowledge from the nation’s most progressive thinkers, activists, artists and entertainers at Our Community’s annual conference.

An event unlike any other, this conference looks at the big picture and sets a path for positive social change.

In 2023, the May 29–30 event will celebrate its 21st anniversary, featuring a program that includes:

  • Craig Foster, former Socceroo, broadcaster and human rights activist, presenting the annual Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration, on the power of sport to make the world a better place
  • Marlikka Perdrisat, a First Nations digital storyteller and researcher, explaining how a better understanding of Indigenous languages will protect our future
  • Professor Julianne Schultz AM, media expert and academic, exploring whether the nation is holding onto an egalitarian ethos or retreating into selfishness, and how our country can realise her full potential
  • Antoinette Lattouf, diversity advocate, explaining “how to lose friends and influence white people” when championing change and racial equality
  • Holly Ransom, leadership expert, who spells out what community sector advocates can do to embrace their power
  • Emma Dawson, the executive director of left-wing think tank Per Capita, revealing findings from Per Capita’s new inequality index
  • Dr Lachlan McIver, a global health and environmental advocate, on the real costs of medical care in a world hit by climate change, war and epidemics
  • Professor Cynthia Mitchell, who brings together her knowledge of biotechnology and ethics to explore the power of Indigenous thinking to save our environment
  • Dr Michelle Lim on what she’s learnt about how we can end loneliness
  • Dr Anjalee de Silva, who grapples with the free speech conundrum and what can be done to combat hate and anger on the internet
  • Dr Simon Longstaff AO, leading ethicist, on the role of ethics in curing the “blindness” that leads good people to do bad things
  • Melissa Neighbour and Rebecca Maklad, futurists, who examine the role of optimists in creating a future that we want.

Last year’s event came two days after a federal election that rocked Australian politics. This year’s will witness a renewed determination to make the most of a new political environment.

The theme of “a search for the soul of the nation” is timely early in the year that will determine whether Australia adopts a Voice to Parliament for First Nations people.

The annual networking and professional development event will give delegates the chance to mix with like-minded community leaders, and, like thousands before them, to act with greater conviction and capability, equipped with the tools and the inspiration they need to make a difference.

Denis Moriarty, hosting at the 2022 event. Picture: Penny Stephens

Conference organiser and Our Community group managing director Denis Moriarty said the two-day community leadership conference was his favourite time of year, when delegates sought solutions where other events left audiences bewildered by facts.

“This is the only Australian conference where community leaders can meet the thinkers and doers who have shown how social change can happen.

“This is where social progressives like me can build our agendas to end racism, create equality, address climate change and forge a nation built on social justice.

“Every year, we urge delegates to go and change the world. Past delegates are doing just that, but there’s so much more unfinished business.”

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