Public Conversation at the Whitlam Institute

The Whitlam Institute believes in providing regular opportunities for public conversation about the things that really matter.

We bring the experts and decision makers to the people, both in Western Sydney and beyond. We hope you can join us as we start to expand this program.

Anniversary of the Dismissal - Jenny Hocking Lecture
Saturday 11 November, 11:00am - 12:00pm

On the anniversary of the Dismissal, the Whitlam Institute will host a compelling talk with Professor Jenny Hocking, who will share revelations from her new book The Dismissal Dossier: The Palace Connection.

For more information and to book for this free event, go to:

Female Orphan School
Conference Room 1, Building EZ, Western Sydney University
Cnr James Ruse Drive and Victoria Road

Fixing the Four Year Term?
Tuesday 21 November, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

In 2000, former PM Gough Whitlam said, "In no democracy other than Australia are election dates so frequent and unpredictable. The capricious timing of elections engenders public cynicism and political instability. They should be fixed at four years."

The Whitlam Institute will host a compelling debate to bring new focus and clarity to this issue.

Whitlam Institute Chair the Hon. John Faulkner will moderate a stimulating panel discussion, with well-informed supporting and dissenting voices, to explore the virtues and hazards of Fixing the Four Year Term.

With thanks to our generous hosts Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

Click here for more information and to register for this event.

Corrs Chambers Westgarth
Level 17, 8 Chifley
8-12 Chifley Square (enter via Hunter St)

The Ethics of Office in Public Service
Thursday 23 November, 5:30pm – 7:30pm

The Whitlam Institute and IPAA NSW are pleased to present a special forum with international guest speaker Professor Paul du Gay.

“If everyone thinks outside the box, what happens to the box?”

From dress codes to meeting formats, informality is usually seen as a positive principle within public sector bodies. But what happens when informality starts to be used as an organisational principle?

Professor du Gay will explore why formality and formal organisations are vital to the structures and performance of public administration, particularly as public distrust in government rises.

He will then discuss the implications of his work with Margaret Crawford, NSW Auditor-General and Professor Anna Yeatman, Whitlam Institute.

$49 Members $59 Affiliates $79 Non- Members
Book at:

Ernst and Young
200 George Street

Previous events:

Public Forum: Australia and the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, Wednesday 6 September 2017

The Whitlam Institute within Western Sydney University and the United Nations Association of Australia were delighted to host a public forum on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the occasion of the second anniversary of their adoption in 2015.

In these challenging global times, the SDGs offer us a roadmap for what it might take to achieve a sustainable future for us all. They represent in the truest sense, an opportunity to think globally and act locally for the future of humanity and the planet.

This forum explained more about the SDGs; how they evolved and what they mean for the world - and ordinary Australians.

The forum featured a panel Discussion between Leanne Smith (Whitlam Institute), Patricia Garcia (UN Association of Australia) and Jen Dollin (UN Regional Centre for Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development and Office of Sustainability at Western Sydney University).

Protecting Humanitarian Space: Drones, Politics and the Changing Nature of Conflict,  Thursday 24 August 2017

This is the first event in a series under the Whitlam Institute's newly established Australia in the World public policy program. Associate Director Leanne Smith introduced the program which aims to open up the policy debate around Australia's engagement with the world through wider engagement and consultation with the Australian community. The evening promises to be thought-provoking, as Australian lawyer Paul White draws on his extensive experience in humanitarian crises around the world and asks, "Can civilians be better protected in conflict?".

Based primarily on his experiences in Syrian and Iraqi humanitarian operations, White considered whether the UN and INGOs have taken any wrong turns that have resulted in serious consequences for local NGOs and those in need of assistance. He discussed the impact that drones, social media and other technology are having on humanitarian field work. He questioned whether initiatives within the UN like 'One UN' and 'Human Rights Up Front' are arguably having a negative impact on humanitarian responses.

In response, Bethany Hender, the Humanitarian and Human Rights Advisor at the Australian Council for International Development, examined Australia's involvement in this changing global landscape and how we should engage, outlining the case for a human security focus in foreign policy, and Australian NGO and Government responses to the World Humanitarian Summit's Grand Bargain.

Of Labour and Liberty, Friday 16 June 2017

Bishop Vincent Long, Fourth Bishop of Parramatta launched Race Mathews' new book, Of Labour and Liberty, at the Whitlam Institute, in partnership with Monash University Publishing.

Of Labour and Liberty arises from the author's half a century and more of political and public policy involvement. It's a response to evidence of a precipitous decline in active citizenship, resulting from a loss of confidence in politics, politicians, parties and parliamentary democracy; the rise of 'lying for hire' lobbyism; increasing concentration of capital in the hands of a wealthy few; and corporate wrong-doing and criminality. It questions whether political democracy can survive indefinitely in the absence of economic democracy - of labour hiring capital rather than capital labour. It highlights the potential of the social teachings of the Catholic Church and the now largely forgotten Distributist political philosophy and program that originated from them as a means of bringing about a more equal, just and genuinely democratic social order. It describes and evaluates Australian attempts to give effect to Distributism, with special reference to Victoria. It documents as grounds for hope the support and advocacy of Pope Francis, and ownership by some 83,000 workers of the Mondragon co-operatives in Spain.

Double Exposure: A Jew and a Palestinian cross the cultural divide, Monday 29 May 2017

How did two strangers, a Boston-born Jew in Montreal and a Gaza-born Palestinian in Melbourne, embark on such a challenging artistic journey to edit, Double Exposure: Plays of the Jewish and Palestinian Diasporas, the first English-language anthology worldwide in any genre of drama, prose or poetry by Jewish and Palestinian writers?

From literally opposite sides of the world, join award-winning playwrights Stephen Orlov of Montreal and Samah Sabawi of Melbourne as they discuss the complexities, obstacles and creative process in editing this groundbreaking collection, which acclaimed

Vagina Monologues playwright Eve Ensler calls "A brave, passionate collective call, a theatrical catalyst for investigation and resistance."

Co-presented by the Margaret Whitlam Chair of Social Work, Professor Linda Briskman and the Whitlam Institute within Western Sydney University.

Indigenous Incarceration and Community Solutions, Wednesday 7 December 2016

Indigenous Australians make up 27% of the national prison population – a statistic that has almost doubled from 14% at the time of the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

It is simply not possible to shy away from the truth of this matter: the facts indict us not only for accepting intolerable levels of incarceration, but for ignoring the advice and evidence as to how this situation might be addressed.

Self-determination, properly understood, lies at the heart of the matter.

The Hon Linda Burney, Shadow Minister for Human Services, and former NSW Attorney General, Federal Minister the Hon Bob Debus AM and Dr Megan Williams, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Health Research, discussed the things which must be done - those "practical things" upon which reform is built and meaningful change realised.

Masterclass: Contemporary Voices in Multicultural Australia, Wednesday 30 November 2016

A discussion by Australia's leading contemporary Muslim voices about multicultural Australia and how to be a positive voice for social change in 2016.

The Whitlam Institute was proud to partner with the United States Consulate General Sydney for this event. The Masterclass series is brought to you by the US Consulate and focuses on contemporary issues in Australia and America. For more information about past and upcoming events, visit the Consulate's youth page:

The Hon. Michael Kirby on the Marriage Plebiscite, Friday 30 September 2016

Concerns regarding the use of a plebiscite extend well beyond the issue in question. They go to the heart of our democratic traditions and the institutions of government, eroding the power vested in them and creating an environment where parliament is no longer required to make controversial decisions.

Economics Imperialism

Do you sometimes wonder if the economy is the 'foundation of everything' in public discourse? Do you question the impact of this on public policy, public interest and democracy?

Why not be part of the dialogue and join us for a public conversation on 'economics imperialism'?

The Whitlam Institute is pleased to present visiting US scholar, Dr Edward Nik-Khah, discussing 'economics imperialism' from its roots in neoliberalism through to its contemporary implications. Dr Nik-Khah shines a fresh light on how the world works through his deep understanding of the evolution of political and economic thought. Joining him will be Whitlam Institute Professorial Research Fellow Professor Anna Yeatman.

Tuesday 31 May 2016, Sydney

Dr Edward Nik-Khah and Professor Anna Yeatman.

Wednesday 1 June 2016, Hobart

Dr Edward Nik-Khah in conversation with Distinguished Professor Jeff Malpas.

Thursday 2 June 2016, Melbourne

The Whitlam Institute hosted Dr Nik-Khah's visit to Australia with the support of the Reichstein Foundation.

Post-Budget Address at the Whitlam Institute, Wednesday 18 May 2016

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Foreign Minister, the Honourable Tanya Plibersek delivered her principal 2016 Post-Budget Address at the Whitlam Institute at 11:00 am on Wednesday 18 May 2016.

For better or worse the Budget has evolved into a piece of political theatre that takes centre stage in May each year. Too often the importance of the Budget as the embodiment of a government's philosophical framework and its policy settings as well as its practical impact on the lives of all Australians is lost amidst the endless speculation, spinning, twirling, machinations and intrigue.

US Presidential Election: A View from the Inside, Tuesday 3 May 2016

Two experts of American politics – one from the Democratic Party, one from the Republican Party – looked at the current and most recent presidential campaigns and explore how the "science" of campaigning often is overwhelmed by the "art" of politics.

Brought to the Whitlam Institute within Western Sydney University by the US Consulate in Sydney.

The Dismissal: In the Queen's name Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston in Conversation with Eric Sidoti at the Whitlam Institute, Friday 4 March 2016

The 40th anniversary of the Dismissal of the Whitlam Government on 11 November 1975 has seen a substantial body of new material come to light that has stirred the passions, reignited debate about the enduring significance of those events and raised further questions about the wilful suppression of our nation's history.

Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston in their latest book offer a forensic analysis of the main players – Malcolm Fraser, Gough Whitlam and Sir John Kerr – and the drama that was the Dismissal.

Eric Sidoti explored the true motivations, the extent of the deceit and the scale of the collusion with Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston.

Gough Whitlam and the Social Democratic Imagination: The challenge for contemporary public policy, Friday 6 November 2015
On the eve of the 40th anniversary of the Dismissal and a little more than one year after Gough's death, some of our country's most celebrated thinkers and writers joined the Whitlam Institute for a very special day to imagine a contemporary Australia in the light of Gough's social democratic vision. The occasion offered an opportunity for those with an interest in public policy to participate in and contribute to the development of visionary and intelligent policy discourse in Australia. Speakers included the Hon Dr Barry Jones AC, Graham Freudenberg AM, Professor Jenny Hocking, the Hon Andrew Leigh MP and Professor Mick Dodson AM.

Video footage and a publication from this event will be available in 2016.

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