2023 — 4 speeches
Get Angry. Then Get Organised.
20 – 21 May 2019
Moonee Valley Racecourse, McPherson Street, Moonee Ponds, Melbourne
When Bob Dylan sang the times they are a'changin' he was well ahead of the curve. Change is occurring in our communities at an unprecedented rate.
The white-bread towns and suburbs we grew up in are now selling injera and hokkaido. Women are shouting, "Me too!" and "Time's up!" Gay people are getting hitched. Refugees are fighting back, shining a light on their plight tweet by agonizing tweet. Entire towns are opting out of the black power grid.
The downtrodden, the ignored, the maligned and the disenfranchised are shouting, "We're mad as hell and we're not going to take it anymore." And finally people are starting to listen. The ground is shifting.
For those on the frontlines of the battles for social justice, it can at times feel like a slow grind. They poke and prod at society's constricting structures, sometimes breaking through, many times watching as the holes scab over. For those happy with the status quo, the pace of change can seem inexorable and startlingly rapid. They buy Bandaids in bulk.
So how do we proceed? Tear it down and damn the consequences, or slow and steady wins the race? Is there a place in between?
We are the government. We are communities. It's up to us to decide.
Two days after the shock federal election result, the Communities in Control conference couldn’t have come at a better time for organisations fearing for the future, with its clarion call to “Get Angry. Then Get Organised.”
As they took in the spine-tingling welcome to country powered by Uncle Ron Murray’s didgeridoo, first-time delegates knew from the start that this would be no ordinary conference.
This event would generate inspiration, hope, and very personal connections. Without exception, each speaker brought home the message “We’re here to change things for the better.”
One of the major highlights was the "apology to refugees" delivered by Refugee Legal executive director David Manne, fuelled by an unmatched understanding of the issue generated over 20 years in the field. Scroll down for details about how you can make a difference.
And by the time Professor Helen Milroy wound up the event with a stirring Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration about our responsibility to the children on our watch, 1000 delegates had restoked the fire in their bellies.
Early on in the event, many of the delegates converging at Moonee Valley Racecourse in Melbourne were still coming to terms with what it all meant for community advocates, progressives, activists and grassroots groups.
And that’s where the conference kicked in, bringing the direction and hope everyone so craved, as well as an answer: “Get Angry. Then Get Organised.”
Spanning a range of passions and causes – climate change, refugees, gender equity, indigenous rights, social justice – a parade of fearless campaigners, mavericks, advocates and artists sparked tears, fury, applause, and a determination to do better.
Group managing director Denis Moriarty said his program was unapologetically progressive and provocative with inspirational talks from activist priest Rod Bower, outrageous trailblazer Lee Lin Chin, uncompromising refugee advocate David Manne and #metoo campaigner Tracey Spicer, as well as a showcase of radical ideas by community innovators and much more.
“This is all about making Australia and the world a better place through powerful community organisations taking charge of their own destinies,” Mr Moriarty said.
Of course, the beating heart of the conference were the stirring performances by indigenous performers Ron Murray and Emily Wurramara, as well as Aussie folk legend Shane Howard, who had everyone singing the same tune.
Ending as the conference started – with a call to action – Professor Helen Milroy in the Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration centred on the needs of children – especially Indigenous kids – and urged us all to “remember to fight for the right things”
For Mr Moriarty, it was another reminder about the real driver of the conference: the delegates: “You make this event. It’s your interaction, your attendance and your infection that you create going out into the communities. Now go change the world!”