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Human rights and social justice are everybody’s business


Zoe Satherley
21 May 2010
‘Everybody’s Business: Human Rights and Social Justice in the 21st Century’ is the theme for a forum being held at the Lismore campus of Southern Cross University on Monday, June 7.

The forum is being jointly presented by the Centre for Peace and Social Justice and the Richmond River High School Equity Group. About 350 high school students from the Northern Rivers region will attend the event.

“The vision for this forum comes directly from students at Richmond River High School,” said Associate Professor Baden Offord, co-director of the Centre for Peace and Social Justice at Southern Cross University.

“The school’s student equity group approached us in 2009 to see if we could assist them to bring together a range of thinkers, writers, artists, scholars, students and distinguished people who were inspirational and who had been working to make the world a better place.

“The students said that they wanted to learn from a diversity of perspectives and stories about human rights and social justice, to understand what these meant in the 21st Century. Also, they wanted to know how students could become informed, activated and engaged world citizens.”

Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Lee will formally open the forum. Federal Member for Page, Janelle Saffin, will introduce Southern Cross University Chancellor The Hon John Dowd AO QC, who will give the opening address and Bundjalung Elder Aunty Irene Harrington will give a Welcome to Kuntri.

At the end of the day forum attendees will hear from a panel of students from high schools around the region.

“This is a unique educational event,” said Professor Offord. “It brings together the University and local high schools to address issues and themes that have deep relevance for sustaining and building Australia’s future as a nation that respects the human rights of everyone, and where social justice is part and parcel of our everyday lives and thinking.”

Morning topics 9.40am-10.40am:

Media Justice is the topic for one morning session, chaired by Dr Grayson Cooke, SCU media lecturer, in Y-205. It will feature Professor Gerard Goggin, deputy director, Journalism and Media Research Centre, UNSW; Dominic Feain, senior journalist, The Northern Star; and Yvette Holt, associate lecturer, SCU School of Law and Justice.

On the other side of the theatre, in Y-204, the morning topics will be under the banner of Taking Responsible Action, and be chaired by Shauna Macintyre from Lismore City Council. There will be presentations on Orphanage in China - Margaret Ward; Sanctuary Northern Rivers - Gabrielle Matur; Distributing AusAid through the Salvation Army - Tony Auld; and Partners International - David Ellen.

Morning topics 11am-12pm:

In Y-205, the topic under discussion will be Rights, Justice and Women’s Stories, chaired by Gnibi College of Indigenous Australian Peoples lecturer Marcelle Townsend-Cross, with a presentation by a Year 12 student; Dr Janie Conway-Heron, senior lecturer in writing, SCU, who will speak on Working with Burmese women on the Thai-Burma border; and Anna Seymour, from Deaf Children Australia, who will speak on Women, Deaf Culture and You.

Concurrently, in Y-204, and chaired by Dr Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli of Deakin University, there will be a discussion about Sexuality and Social Justice, with presentations by Dr Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, Deakin University; Shelley Argent, OAM, PFLAG Australia; and Associate Professor Baden Offord, SCU.

Lunchtime topics 12pm-1pm:

Dr Baden Offord will chair Creative Expressions of Social Justice in Y-205, featuring Dr Jennifer Wilson, author and social commentator; Adam Hill, Indigenous Australian artist; and community anthropologist Dr Rachel Bruenlin, Visiting Fellow at SCU from the University of New Orleans.

Keynote Address 1.30pm-2.15pm, Y-205:

The humanising power of story: story and social justice, delivered by author and human rights advocate Dr Arnold Zable.

Afternoon topic 2.15pm-3pm, Y-205:

Everybody’s Business: Student Voices, chaired by Soenke Biermann, SCU tutor and PhD Candidate, featuring a panel of high school students from around the region.

Photo: Associate Professor Baden Offord, co-director of the Centre for Peace and Social Justice at Southern Cross University.