Communities in Control 2023

This week I’ve had the privilege of capturing one of my favourite annual events, with the theme “A search for the soul of our nation.”

Speakers posed the question “Can a country have a soul” – and certainly in 2023 as Australia faces the referendum on the Voice to Parliament for our first peoples it’s a time to reflect on exactly this.

Let’s start with the pictures!

Day 1

For our opening we witnessed a magnificent work of music entitled MARRAPURTANGKALI – The People’s Spirit, created by William Barton and Véronique Serret.

We heard from Julianne Schultz AM on the soul of our nation (the conference theme this year has been borrowed from her latest book). 

Emma Dawson launched the new inequality index – which is an open resource so Australians can measure what matters.

Antoinette Lattouf spoke on racism, reflecting on her 2022 book, How to lose friends and influence White People. 

Holly Ransom challenged us to spend more time in the courage zone.

Dr Anjalee de Silva shared her research on internet hate speech – primarily against women.

Rebecca Makland and Melissa Neighbour finished up the speaker list on a note of optimism, focussing on how amazing humans are – right before we enjoyed a performance from Missy Higgins. What a day.


Day 2

The second day was themed beautifully, with Professor Cynthia Michell reading a poem that had us in tears, and finished answering a question by walking from the front of the room to the back – telling us we need to take ourselves to the future to change our perspective.

Marlikka Perdrisat shared some fantastic film from Fitzroy River, and introduced us to the word ‘liyan’ which is the state of your mind, heart and gut being in sync.

Dr Simon Longstaff shared many visual tricks so that we could focus on what we couldn’t see, knowing to be truly seen is to belong.

Dr Michelle Lim spoke on the concept of loneliness, which is subjective and unobservable – and one of the great challenges of our times. 

Dr Lachlan McIver shared great stories from his book ‘Life & Death Decisions’ around working all around the world in remote and regional communities as a doctor.

Craig Foster AM concluded the conference with the Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration talking about how we must be judged by how we treat our most vulnerable. The way we treat refugees… the way we treat our first nations, and how this year we have a chance to right some wrongs.