Connection, Creativity, Community: Finding Hope in a Climate of Crisis

18 – 19 May 2020


Moonee Valley Racecourse, McPherson Street, Moonee Ponds,

May you live in interesting times. It wasn’t meant to be a blessing.

But interesting times is what we’ve got.

The planet is in crisis and we only have milliseconds (in the scheme of human life) to act. Our heads are spinning but we’re not responding fast enough. Privacy is dead. Google and Facebook know more about us than our partners. (Much more.) Traditional owners are ignored. Patriotism trumps globalism. Old white men froth at the mouth. Increasing numbers of us find ourselves living in an idiocracy.

As the turmoil whirls towards us, some of us retreat to our homes, pull the curtains and switch on Netflix. Others take to the streets.

And then there is hope. It comes in the form of a 16-year-old Swedish polyglot who sails across the Atlantic in a zero-carbon yacht to talk truth to power. It comes in the form of online groups that connect us to things that matter and help us get to know the neighbours we’d forgotten we had. It comes in the form of park runs, pub choirs, little book libraries, art shows, sporting contests, and plant-swap groups. Connection. Creativity. Community.

Greta can’t save us single-handed. Come to Communities in Control 2020 and find out how to identify a path through the confusion. We can promise you it’ll be interesting. In a good way.

Conference Tickets

Flying Solo


(inc GST)


Single delegate

Register now

Dynamic Duo


(inc GST)

Save $30 person!

2 - 4 delegates

Register now

Gang of Five


(inc GST)

Save $55 per person!

5 or more delegates

Register now

Event Schedule

08:30am – 09:15am

Registration opens (tea, coffee and water available)

09:15am – 09:30am

Welcome and opening / Acknowledgment of Country

09:30am – 09:45am

A musical performance

Music, for Katie, is a lifelong lesson, a generous act of giving, and a means to change the world. Let Katie change ours.

09:45am – 10:45am

The Power of Respect: Replacing alert and alarmed with informed and engaged

The world is a scary place. Or so our media would have us believe. Who controls the narrative we see on our television screens, or read online or in the paper? Why does it feel everything is going wrong? Governing for a population of alert and alarmed voters is vastly different to governing for a population of informed and engaged citizens. What needs to change in the system to ensure we are all informed on government policy, and engaged in the decision-making processes?

10:45am – 11:00am

Morning Tea

11:00am – 11:40am

Climate and Communities: Adapting to the new normal

We all know that climate change is damaging our natural environment, but what impact is it having on our communities? A future defined by climate change will bring new issues and obstacles that the community sector will need to face and overcome. We have to. There is no Planet B.

11:40am – 12:00pm

Why Inaction is Not an Option: #PutOutYourBats #TheyAreOnFire

In March 2018, Jo Dodds’ life was changed forever as devastating bushfires ripped through Tathra, her home town. Since then, the bushfires have only become worse, destroying localities all across the country. Still, our political leaders won’t act. They tell us that now is not the time to talk about climate change. But why, when the forests are burning, and people are sifting through the ashes of their homes, can we not talk about this? Inaction will get us nowhere. We must act.

12:00pm – 12:40pm

Breaking Badly: How I worried myself sick

Working in the community sector can often be emotionally draining. How do community workers balance their life with the long hours and stresses of the job without breaking down? How do you keep it together when tackling some of society’s darkest issues? What is required to remain in control? Hear one woman’s story of rising and falling and rising again.

12:40pm – 01:30pm


01:30pm – 02:20pm

Building a Community: Bringing social infrastructure into the conversation

When we hear the world ‘infrastructure’ most of us automatically think of roads, railways and bridges. But we all know that it takes much more than that to build a community. As a society, we need to shift the conversation to ensure that social infrastructure is brought into the mix. If we fail, what chance do we have at building stronger communities within Australia?

02:20pm – 02:50pm

Afternoon Tea

02:50pm – 03:40pm

Understanding the Social Progress Index: Using data to measure our progress

The Social Progress Index is used to measure how well the environmental and social needs of citizens are being met. Currently, Australia ranks 12th in the world. That’s great, but what exactly does it mean? How do you measure social progress? What are we learning from the results?

03:40pm – 04:30pm

The Perks of Being a Pirate: From tragedy to triumph

It’s one thing to survive a life-threatening illness, it’s another to thrive thereafter, mesmerizing audiences around the world as a keynote speaker, DJ and quadruple amputee like it’s nobody’s business. Tom Nash has done all of it. This presentation will equip you with an understanding on how to overcome life’s obstacles, and motivate you to do so.

04:30pm – 06:00pm

Drinks and Networking (Drinks supplied as part of the conference fee)

09:30am – 10:20am

Inequality in Our Communities: Why are so many missing out?

We hear a lot about the rising divides in economic opportunities and wealth in Australia: between country and city, young and old and the top 1% and ‘everyone else’. What do we know about rising inequality in our communities and what can we do about it?

10:20am – 10:45am

Morning Tea

10:45am – 11:30am

The Iron Law of Business-as-usual: What is it and can we escape it?

In Australia, policy agendas come, tip everything upside down, and then they go, swept away by the next fad. New Zealand has garnered world attention for its ‘Wellbeing Budget’ but Australia had a wellbeing framework a decade ago. It was quietly scrapped a few years ago and no-one noticed the difference. It looks like New Zealand is heading down a similar path. What can we do to overcome this churn-and-burn cycle of policybuilding? How do we escape the path of business-as-usual?

11:30am – 12:20pm

Leading a Meaningul Life: Leaving a legacy through advocacy

We all hope to live a meaningful life, but when it comes to an end, how do we find dignity and composure? Onclogist Ranjana Srivastava has two decades of experience working with people in their last days. She draws on this experience to share her observations on leading a meaningful life. Through advocacy and staying true to our deepest convictions, we can all leave a legacy to be proud of when our time runs out.

12:20pm – 01:00pm


01:00pm – 01:50pm

Poster Boy: Using art as advocacy to reshape community opinions

A great picture paints a thousand words, but how many words are needed to reshape the opinions of a community? Art is a vital part of any movement, and there is no denying that Peter Drew’s works have sparked conversation throughout Australia. Big things happen when art meets advocacy.

01:50pm – 02:10pm

Afternoon Tea

02:10pm – 03:00pm

This is Where We Live: Using people-centred data to remake cities & towns

Cities and towns should be built for the communities that will inhabit them. There is a trove of data on the demographics of any given town, but do we spend enough time consulting this data, and the people the data represents, to give us a better understanding of what the community needs? It’s time to put people back at the centre of our urban environments.

03:00pm – 04:00pm

Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration 2020

After a surprise election victory in May 2019, Scott Morrison thanked the ‘quiet Australians’ for sticking by his side. Since then, it appears that our government is hell-bent on making the entire population quiet. Journalists are being pressured by the Australian Federal Police to cooperate or feel the force. There’s been talk of outlawing group boycotts. Children finding their political voice are being told to go back to school. When New South Wales and Queensland were on fire we were told that now is not the time to talk. But the community sector won’t be quiet Australians. We will continue to talk, and our voice will be heard.

04:00pm – 11:49am


Sign-up to our newsletter