Past Forums

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Audio available from CES Forum: Getting the democracy we want: government with the people

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Christians for an Ethical Society in association with the Canberra Alliance of Participatory Democracy (CAPaD) held a forum on 20 November 2019 on the topic “Getting the democracy we want: government with the people”. Audio is now available (see below)

Four CAPad members shareed what the group is doing and learning, ideas for democratic renewal in the ACT and actions we can take as individuals and in our groups and associations.

Beth Slatyer has a background in health policy and system reform and is an Honorary Fellow at the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne. Through her work with governments and civil society in Australia and overseas she has developed a deep appreciation of how good governance, public interest institutions and accountability underpin equitable and sustainable social and economic systems.

Peter Tait has been a General Practitioner for 38 years, 30 in Aboriginal health in Central Australia. He was the 2007 Royal Australian College of General Practitioners General Practitioner of the Year, and 2017 Public Health Association Australia Sidney Sax medalist. He attained a Masters of Climate Change at the Australian National University (ANU) in 2010. He is a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Population Health at ANU Medical School. Peter believes a person’s health is grounded in a healthy society, and a healthy society in a well-functioning ecosystem.

Sue Ingram has a deep interest in governance building on a professional career as a senior executive in the Australian Government, as a senior member of post-conflict peacebuilding missions in Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands, as principal governance adviser in AusAID and as an international governance consultant. She holds a PhD in political science based on research into the post-conflict political settlements in Timor-Leste and Bougainville and has joined international election observation missions for the last three national elections in Timor-Leste and Bougainville.

Petra Cram has been a Primary school teacher for 25 years, is committed to excellence in education and also cares deeply for the well-being of Earth and its complex living systems. She is passionate about finding participatory and democratic solutions to the problem of the corporate takeover of our and political lives, and is convinced that a cohesion of our diverse civil society groups, will garner the power needed to create a balance between economic, civic and political forces in our society.

Audio files of the night’s proceedings are now available.

  1. Introduction and welcome from Ann Skamp
  2. Address: Overview by Beth Slatyer
  3. Address: Mini Publics by Petra Cram
  4. Address: The relationship between electred representatives and their constituents by Sue Ingram
  5. Address by Peter Tait: How are we going to make representatives and government work better for us in the ACT?
  6. Reflection by Beth Slatyer on Hopes for engagement with CAPaD
  7. Question 1: What has been the experience in the ACT Citizen Juries that have already taken place?
  8. Question 2: To what extent is democracy in teh ACT able to throw off teh hold of vested interests and foster representation of grass roots interests?
  9. Question 3: How it is possible for electors to hold politicians accountable to their pre-elections committments?
  10. Question 4: How is it possible to encourage more independent candidates in the ACT?
  11. Question 5: Enhancing engagements of the electorate with its political representatives?
  12. Question 6: How do we get more decisions based on evidence?
  13. Concluding remarks and thanks by Ann Skamp.

Forum 20 November 2019: Getting the Democracy we want: government with the people

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“Getting the Democracy we want: government with the people” in partnership with the Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy (CAPaD)

Speakers: Beth Slatyer, Peter Tait, Sue Ingram and Petra Cram.

When: 7.30pm 20 November 2019

Where: Chapel, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture

People everywhere are questioning what is happening to democracy and how governments could better work with “We, the people”. Some have called the current failures of trust and integrity a “democratic recession”.

CAPaD is a community group committed to making democracy work better, through citizen deliberation and action. CAPaD wants a democratic Canberra — where citizens trust their elected representatives, hold them accountable, engage in decision-making, and defend what sustains the public interest. The ACT is an ideal test bed for exploring how to achieve reform.

The group is actively working in three domains:

  • finding ways to create genuine citizen participation in decision making
  • understanding the role of MLAs, the relationship between citizens and their representatives and what a richer notion of accountability might look like
  • exploring community level agenda setting and monitoring, to build system and policy literacy and create the basis for government accountability

Four CAPad members will share what the group is doing and learning, ideas for democratic renewal in the ACT and actions we can take as individuals and in our groups and associations.

Beth Slatyer has a background in health policy and system reform and is an Honorary Fellow at the Nossal Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne. Through her work with governments and civil society in Australia and overseas she has developed a deep appreciation of how good governance, public interest institutions and accountability underpin equitable and sustainable social and economic systems.

Peter Tait has been a General Practitioner for 38 years, 30 in Aboriginal health in Central Australia. He was the 2007 Royal Australian College of General Practitioners General Practitioner of the Year, and 2017 Public Health Association Australia Sidney Sax medalist. He attained a Masters of Climate Change at the Australian National University (ANU) in 2010. He is a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Population Health at ANU Medical School. Peter believes a person’s health is grounded in a healthy society, and a healthy society in a well-functioning ecosystem.

Sue Ingram has a deep interest in governance building on a professional career as a senior executive in the Australian Government, as a senior member of post-conflict peacebuilding missions in Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands, as principal governance adviser in AusAID and as an international governance consultant. She holds a PhD in political science based on research into the post-conflict political settlements in Timor-Leste and Bougainville and has joined international election observation missions for the last three national elections in Timor-Leste and Bougainville.

Petra Cram has been a Primary school teacher for 25 years, is committed to excellence in education and also cares deeply for the well-being of Earth and its complex living systems. She is passionate about finding participatory and democratic solutions to the problem of the corporate takeover of our and political lives, and is convinced that a cohesion of our diverse civil society groups, will garner the power needed to create a balance between economic, civic and political forces in our society.

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Panel Forum 16 October 2019: The impact of information technology and social media

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A Joint Forum with the Catholic Social Justice Commission based on their 2019-20 Social Justice Statement

Speakers: Paul Bongiorno AM, Beth Doherty, Huw Warmenhoven and Toni Hassan

When: 7.30pm 16 October 2019

Where: Chapel, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture

The Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement for 2019 – 2020, Making it Real: Genuine human encounter in our digital world, affirms the positive possibilities for encounter and solidarity offered by new digital media, while warning of those elements of our digital world that may be harmful. These include information overload; social isolation; marginalisation of the vulnerable; consumerism and fake news.

The Statement reminds us that the new digital media cannot be seen as neutral or ‘unaffected by any moral considerations’. While many users do not realise it, the core business of social media platforms is to sell advertising and maximise profits. People’s personal lives may be reduced to data that is traded for profit or power, and it is used to target and influence us in ways previously unthinkable. Pushing users to more extreme positions and promoting fake news and conspiracy theories sells, but this is at odds with human solidarity.

The Statement amplifies Pope Francis’ call to us to ‘boldly become citizens of the digital world’, with the image of the Good Samaritan as our inspiration. We are called not only to love our neighbour, but to bring the love of God to the new global neighbourhood. The Statement points out that we are called not just to be inhabitants of this new digital world, but active citizens shaping it. All of us – whether we are users, communities, industrial or political leaders – have a role to play in rejecting hatred, divisions and falsehoods. We have a duty to foster a neighbourhood that promotes those human attributes and social values that lend themselves to genuine human encounter – love, understanding, beauty, goodness, truth and trustworthiness, joy and hope.

Paul Bongiorno is a veteran political journalist. He writes weekly columns for The Saturday Paper, The New Daily and other publications as well being a regular commentator on ABC Radio. He is also a contributing editor to Network Ten. He has been a journalist for 45 years and in that time has won four national Walkley Awards for journalistic excellence.

Beth Doherty is a journalist and educator who currently works as a religious education teacher at St Clare’s College, Canberra. She is the author of Tweet others as you would wish to be tweeted: A scripture-based guide to social media for the Church, published by David Lovell in 2015 under the auspices of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference.

Huw Warmenhoven is the Youth Coordinator in the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn. He has worked over the past 7 years in developing Youth Ministry in Catholic school across Australia, Europe, Africa and the Pacific. He has a passion for communicating the timeless Gospel in our time, inviting young people into the mission of the Church and responding through faith to contemporary social justice challenges.

Toni Hassan is an adjunct research scholar with The Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University. She is an emerging artist, journalist and author of Families in the Digital Age: Every parent’s guide (Hypbrid, 2019).

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Dinner Forum 27 August 2019: Telling Truth, Building Community

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Tuesday 27 August 2019

Speaker: Bishop Mark and Monica Short
When: 6 for 6:30 Tuesday 27 August 2019
Where: Bella Vista Restaurant, 84 Emu Bank, Belconnen

At our August Dinner forum, Bishop Mark and Monica Short will address the topic “Telling Truth, Building Community: What the Indigenous Church Teaches Us”.

Mark and Monica Short returned to Canberra in 2019. Mark serves as Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn and Monica is a Lecturer and social researcher in Social Work with Charles Sturt University. For the previous seven and a half years they lived in Sydney but were actively engaged with rural and regional Australia. For Mark this came through his role as National Director of The Bush Church Aid Society and for Monica through a series of research projects looking at the interface between the rural Anglican Church and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, people living with a disability and Aboriginal peoples. In both those roles Indigenous Christian leaders have been generous companions and guides and we will draw on their insights in this talk.

Cost: $60 per person for a three-course meal with wine, juice & tea/coffee

To book: Transfer to “Christians for an Ethical Society” BSB 805-022 acc’t 03310199 reference with “your surname Dinner” and also email booking details to admin@ces.org.au

Or

Send cheque made out to “Christians for an Ethical Society” to 15 Blackall St, Barton ACT 2600. Bookings close 6 August 2019.

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CES Annual General Meeting

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An Invitation to all members of CES,

CES Annual General Meeting

6 August 2019

3:00pm in the Boardroom,

George Browning House, Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture,

Blackall St, Barton ACT

 

Best regards,

Ann Skamp,
Secretary
Christians for an Ethical Society

Next forum 4 June 2019: Why a National Integrity Commission?

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Ebony Bennett, Deputy Director, The Australia Institute

Tuesday 4 June 2019

Speaker: Ebony Bennett, Deputy Director, The Australia Institute
Chair: Emeritus Professor John Warhust AO
When: 7:30pm Tuesday 4 June 2019
Where: Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture (Chapel), Corner Blackall St and Kings Av, Barton

In our June forum, Ebony Bennett, Deputy Director of The Australia Institute, will explain the case for a National Integrity Commission (a federal ICAC) with authority and capacity to systematically investigate corruption at the federal level.

In the words of an open letter signed by 34 retired senior judges, “Confidence and trust in government and public institutions is at an all-time low. When this confidence and trust is diminished, pessimism, divisiveness and conflict increase; and social cohesiveness is harmed. As a result, the economy and the welfare of all Australians suffers. Ultimately, as international experience has shown, democracy itself is threatened and may be irreparably damaged. Governments ignore at their peril demands by citizens to combat corruption with vigor.”

Ebony Bennett has worked in federal politics for more than a decade. Ms Bennett has published research on gender and street harassment and regularly appears as a commentator on Sky News and as a contributor for the Guardian and Fairfax publications.

Ebony began her career as a journalist in the federal press gallery before becoming media advisor to Bob Brown and later his Strategy Director. She has worked in federal politics for more than a decade. She has also worked for the Australian Human Rights Commission and a market research company.

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Rusted Off: Why is Country Australia Fed Up?

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Gabrielle Chan

Tuesday 26 March 2019

Speaker: Gabrielle Chan
Chair: Emeritus Professor John Warhust AO
When: 7:30pm Tuesday 26 March 2019
Where: Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture (Chapel), Corner Blackall St and Kings Av, Barton

As Australia prepares for a federal election, the contest for rural and regional seats is likely to be one of the most fascinating aspects of the 2019 poll.  Already, country independents are pushing incumbent MPs against a backdrop of disappointment and disengagement with politicians and the parliament across the country.
Gabrielle Chan will examine why politics is changing in rural areas and how it may impact on the outcome of the next election.
Gabrielle Chan has been a journalist for more than 30 years. She began covering politics in the 1990s for The Australian in NSW parliament and the Canberra press gallery. Since 2013, she has worked for Guardian Australia as a political correspondent and Politics Live blogger. Gabrielle has also worked for ABC radio, the Daily Telegraph, in local newspapers and politics. She has written and edited histories and biographies.
The city-born daughter of a Singaporean migrant, Gabrielle moved to a sheep and wheat farm near Harden, Murrumburrah, in 1996. She noticed the economic and cultural divide between city and country and the yawning gap between parliament and small town life. As a result, she wrote Rusted Off: Why Country Australia is Fed Up, released in 2018 by Penguin Random House.

Further information (forum flyer)

Mediating Democracy: Journalism in the Post Truth Age

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Paul Bongiorno AM

 

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Speaker: Paul Bongiorno AM
Chair: Emeritus Professor John Warhust AO
When: 7:30pm Tuesday 12 February 2019
Where: Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Corner Blackall St and Kings Av, Barton

Australians will go to the polls this year in what is one of the best regulated voting systems in the world. But while the integrity of the vote is assured and compulsory voting a safeguard against extremist minorities it is not enough to restore or maintain faith in democracy.

Truth has become a commodity for media outlets. The business model dictates editorial choice of stories and the slant they receive. The trivialisation of politics and the unwillingness to hold power to account by a banal equivalence of views has reduced news to entertainment or worse an echo chamber of bigotry.

But the truth can still set us free and there are shafts of light.

Further information (flyer)

Dinner Forum 10 October 2018

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Dinner Forum:

Why Neighbours Matter

Hugh Mackay AO
Hugh is a social researcher and the
bestselling author of 19 books. In
recognition of his pioneering work in social
research, he has been awarded honorary
doctorates by five Australian universities,
elected a Fellow of the Australian
Psychological Society and, in 2015, was
appointed an Officer of the Order of
Australia. His presentation will focus on the
role of compassion in lowering anxiety and
building stronger communities.

Chair: Emeritus Professor John Warhurst AO

Corinna 2 Room at the Southern Cross Club, 92-96 Corinna Street, Woden.
6 for 6:30 pm, Wednesday 10 October

Cost: $65 per person for a 3-course meal with wine, juice & tea/coffee.

SORRY – Bookings now closed

To book: Transfer to “Christians for an Ethical Society” BSB 805-022 account 03310199 and reference with “your-surname Dinner” AND also email bookings to admin@ces.org.au
OR
Send cheque made out to “Christians for an Ethical Society” to CES, 15 Blackhall St, BARTON ACT 2600
Please advise by email to admin@ces.org.au of any dietary requirements or if you have a group booking requiring to be seated together.
SORRY – Bookings now closed

Springs of Hope: rethinking the vertical

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Elizabeth FarrellyForum Extras

Download additional forum materials here

Audio recordings

Tuesday 29 May, 2018

Speaker: Elizabeth Farrelly
Chair: Bishop George Browning
When: 7:30pm Tuesday 29 May, 2018
Where: Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Corner Blackall St and Kings Av, Barton

As we spread across the surface of the planet, fighting for rights, squabbling over resources and networking wildly via social media it is tempting to feel that the horizontal is everything. But the cross requires both horizontal and vertical, and therein lies hope.

Elizabeth Farrelly is a writer, columnist, thinker and author, with a background in philosophy and architecture, a love of farming and poetry and a yearning for the vertical.