CES Annual Dinner 2024

By | Blog, Current Forums, Upcoming Forums

TUESDAY 20 AUGUST 2024 at 6:00 pm for 6:30 pm

Hellenic Club
1 Matilda Street Phillip ACT (Google Map location)

Social Welfare and the Church

Lin Hatfield Dodds will reflect on the role of the churches in the alleviation of poverty from the first years of colonisation through the development of the welfare state, the outsourcing of human service delivery to non-government organisations and the entry of profit driven enterprises into the system to today’s increasingly consumer directed care environment.

What is the role of faith-based service provision now and into the future?

What should the church’s role be in shaping the systems that either trap people in poverty or enable them to thrive?

If we are serious about communities in which everyone can connect, contribute, belong and be valued, what’s the role of the church in that, and what’s our role as people of faith ourselves?


Lin Hatfield Dodds

Lin is the CEO of The Benevolent Society, a charitable organisation that has been providing support services to Australians and advocating for positive social change for more than 200 years.

She has extensive experience in social policy, systems leadership, and cross sector social innovation, as well as a wealth of operational expertise.

Lin’s previous roles have included Associate Dean at The Australia and New Zealand School of Government, Deputy Secretary, Social Policy, in the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet from 2016 to 2019, and National Director of UnitingCare Australia.

She has also worked as a counselling psychologist with families and young people at risk. Recognition of Lin’s contributions include, ACT Australian of the Year, a Churchill Fellowship to study anti-poverty strategies, and an ACT Chief Minister’s International Women’s Day Award.

The Voice: Where to from here?

By | Blog, Past Forums

TUESDAY 18 JUNE 2024 at 7:00 PM

Chambers Pavilion
Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture
15 Blackall Street Barton

The Voice

Where to from here?

“There was a resounding ‘No’ from last year’s Referendum. That signalled to First Nations Peoples that many Australians don’t care about them. The toxic views expressed by some politicians, Christians, and minority groups were racist and vile – a slap in the face for First Nations people.

However 6 million Australians voted ‘ Yes’.  This gives us hope . It is the ‘Yes’ voters that First Nations people want to walk with as agents of change. Love transforms and it transforms human hearts. We need to see the image of God in each other.

Aboriginal theology provides hope. It also provides for justice, holding people accountable to each other, country and the whole creation. It requires us to be innovative , and inspires us to be transformative seeing the good in each other. There is no methodology, other than theology that can bring about transformation, justice, reparation and genuine reconciliation.” — Professor Anne Pattel-Gray


Professor Anne Pattel-Gray PhD DDi, Head of the School of Indigenous Studies at the University of Divinity

Professor Anne Pattel-Gray

Professor Anne Pattel-Gray PhD DD is head of the School of Indigenous Studies at the University of Divinity. She is a recognised scholar, theologian, activist, and prolific writer.

Professor Pattel-Gray is a descendant of the Bidjara Nation in Queensland. She has held many significant positions both nationally and internationally including Executive Secretary of the Aboriginal and Islander Commission and on the National Council of Churches. She was recently appointed to the WCC Commission on Mission and Evangelism.

Professor Pattel-Gray is a recognised expert in de-colonising biblical narratives, developing Indigenous theology, and bringing her cultural understanding to biblical hermeneutics. She also brings to the fore women’s perspectives and exposure to the truth about the colonisation of Australia.


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The AI Revolution: Benefits, Harms and the Fate of Human Existence

By | Blog, Past Forums, Uncategorized

TUESDAY 23 APRIL 2024 at 7:00 PM

Chambers Pavilion
Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture
15 Blackall Street Barton

The AI Revolution

Benefits, Harms and the Fate of Human Existence

Recent breakthroughs in AI technology, such as ChatGPT, have prompted furious public discussion about the potential benefits and harms of humanity’s rapid adoption of new AI technologies. There is much speculation, as well as prophesying, that humanity is nearing the dawn of epoch-making artificial general intelligence. Some fear that AI will eventually reach a level of superhuman capability that could pose an existential threat to human existence itself.

With enormous investment and intense competition in the development of AI technologies, the one certainty is that AI will become a greater and greater part of human life, impacting all important dimensions of human existence, from entertainment and work to education and politics.

Will humanity’s AI revolution propel humanity to a higher level of civilisation, as techno-optimists believe? Or will it result in a techno-dystopia that threatens human existence, as pessimists fear?


Dr Jonathan Cole is Interim Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.

Dr Jonathan Cole

Jonathan Cole is Interim Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture. He has a PhD in Christian political theology (Charles Sturt University, 2019), an MA specialising in Middle Eastern politics and Islamic theology (Australian National University, 2007) and a BA Hons in Modern Greek language and history (La Trobe University, 2000).

Prior to embarking on an academic career in 2014, Jonathan worked as an intelligence analyst for the Australian government, first at the Defence Signals Directorate and then at the Office of National Assessments, where he worked on Islamist terrorism.

He is a co-author of the discussion paper “How AI Is Changing Democracy” published by Maxim Institute in August 2023.


(total size 395MB)

The ethics of modern warfare: Some of the challenges for Australia and its allies

By | Past Forums


Chambers Pavilion,
Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture
Blackall Street (corner of Kings Ave) Barton

Some of the challenges for Australia and its allies

The nature of warfare is changing rapidly not only because of rapidly changing technologies and operational concepts but also because many of the West’s current and potential adversaries have markedly different conceptions of what constitutes war and how it should be fought.
Australia faces serious ethical questions about whether a war should be fought, the aims of any war, the strategies that should be employed, how combat should be conducted and, not least, how democracies should prepare for such eventualities. This discussion will highlight some of the dilemmas faced by decision-makers.


Dr Ross Babbage AM

Dr Ross Babbage AM

Ross Babbage has worked on Australian and international defence and security issues for over four decades. He has held senior positions in the Department of Defence, the intelligence community, at ANU and also in the corporate sector.
Ross currently leads two companies that work on the tough security challenges confronting Australia and its allies and is also a Non-resident Senior Fellow at a leading think tank in the United States. His latest book is entitled: The Next Major War: Can the US and its Allies Win Against China?
Ross and all members of his immediate family are active in their respective churches. Ross was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 2011.

video recordings of the forum





‘A Voice Crying in the Wilderness’: The fate of truth in public discourse

By | Past Forums



We are sorry to advise that the forum has been cancelled due to the illness of the speaker, Prof Pickard.

A copy of his paper encompassing his intended talk is at


Download pdf flyer

The Rt Reverend Professor Stephen Pickard

When a society is driven by the desire for power the consequences are disastrous. Lying becomes our stock in trade and loving truth above all else is consigned to the field of dreams. Such is the fate of truth in contemporary public discourse today. 

The Referendum of the Voice to Parliament is an important case in point. The voice that cries for recognition struggles to be heard In a modern wilderness marked by a cacophony of competing voices, sounds, noise and static.

How might we hear a true voice in such times? What must we do to act truthfully? What may we hope for?

The Rt Revd Professor Stephen Pickard

Stephen Pickard was Executive Director of the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture Charles Sturt University, and Assistant Bishop in the Anglican Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn 2013–2022. 

Since retiring in 2022, he continues as an adjunct Professor of Theology at CSU. He has exercised ministry in Australia and the UK in theological education, ministerial formation and pastoral ministry. In 2011 he was installed as a Six Preacher at Canterbury Cathedral.

In March 2022 he received, from the Archbishop of Canterbury, The Cross of St Augustine in recognition of his service to the Anglican Communion as a theologian, teacher and bishop. He is the author of 4 books.

Annual CES Dinner 2023 with speaker Dr Sarah Bachelard “Forging a counter-story: the work of hope”

By | Past Forums

Tuesday 22 August 2023

6.00 pm for 6:30 pm | Bella Vista Restaurant, 84 Emu Bank, Belconnen ACT 2617

  • Register by emailing admin@ces.org.au and include any dietary requirements.
  • Cost: $60 per head
  • Payment (Electronic Funds Transfer) Account Name: Christians for an Ethical Society | BSB: 325–185
    Account no: 03310199 | Reference: Your_Surname/Dinner
  • RSVP 15 August 2023

Forging a Counter-Story: The Work of Hope

Dr Sarah Bachelard

In movements for justice and social change, inspiring and maintaining hope is seen to be vital.

Hope is a source of energy, keeping us connected to possibility, holding open the space for action that might otherwise be closed by cynicism and despair. But where is hope itself sourced?

In Christian understanding, hope is not a natural phenomenon. It’s not optimism, the tendency to anticipate that things will just get better, or naturally improve. Rather it has to do with the nature of the future that calls us and commitment to participate in its realisation. Hope is both gift and practice, a fruit of prayer.

In this talk, Sarah Bachelard will reflect on the ground and work of hope from a Christian perspective, and explore what might be the distinctive contribution of this quality of hope to the needs and possibilities of our time.

Dr Sarah Bachelard is a theologian, author and leader of Benedictus Contemplative Church, based in Canberra.

Dr Sarah Bachelard

Sarah Bachelard is a theologian, author and leader of Benedictus Contemplative Church, based in Canberra.

She is a teacher with the World Community for Christian Meditation and a Circle of Trust facilitator.

Her books include Experiencing God in a Time of Crisis, A Contemplative Christianity for Our Time and Poetica Divina: Poems to Redeem a Prose World.

Sarah loves to discern connections between the wisdom of tradition, spiritual practice and our lived experience.

Download pdf flyer

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.

“The Politics of Love”

By | Apologetics, Art, Atheism, Past Forums
Andrew Leigh, MP, Wednesday 19 April, 2017
Forum Extras

Download additional forum materials here.

A4 Poster.pdf
A5 Flyer.pdf

Speaker: Andrew Leigh, MP
Chair: Ingrid Moses
When: 7:30pm Wednesday 19 April, 2017
Where: Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture, Corner Blackall St and Kings Av, Barton

Recent years have seen a steady rise in the politics of fear and hatred. Political debates have become sharper and the media more polarised. These developments should be particularly worrying for progressives. Dr Leigh will argue a politics of love isn’t a bohemian hangover, but essential to building a more egalitarian Australia. A strong social safety net demand empathy for the most vulnerable, and a willingness to build a more decent and tolerant civic culture.

Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Treasurer and Federal Member for Fenner in the ACT. Prior to being elected in 2010, Andrew was a professor of economics at the Australian National University. He holds a PhD in public policy from Harvard, having graduated from the University of Sydney with first class honours in Law and Arts.

Andrew is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Social Sciences, and a past recipient of the ‘Young Economist Award’, a prize given every two years by the Economics Society of Australia to the best Australian economist under 40. His books include: Disconnected (2010), Battlers and Billionaires (2013), The Economics of Just About Everything (2014), and The Luck of Politics (2015).

Andrew is a keen marathon runner and hosts a podcast, The Good Life, which is available on iTunes.