Ideas and Society in 2018

The Ideas and Society program is a series of debates and public lectures convened by Professor Robert Manne that consider critical questions of the times. The program brings some of Australia’s leading thinkers and public figures to the University. It aims to deepen the understanding of these critical issues and enlivens intellectual life.

All events are streamed live on the day and can be watched after the event on our YouTube channel.

How human rights can be defended and extended

Many people would agree that Gillian Triggs and Julian Burnside are the two most significant defenders of human rights in contemporary Australia. La Trobe University’s Ideas & Society Program is immensely pleased and proud to be able to announce that they have agreed to come together, as part of our “Better Australia?” series, in what promises to be a fascinating conversation of national importance.

Gillian Triggs is a distinguished international lawyer who has held professorships in the Law Schools of both the University of Sydney and the University of Melbourne. Between 2012 and 2017 she was President of Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission, where she served with integrity, grace and courage in the face of unrelenting political pressure.

Julian Burnside AO QC, a highly successful commercial lawyer, is best known as Australia’s most eloquent, principled and unwavering human rights advocate. He has worked pro bono on countless asylum seeker cases but was also the lead barrister in the Trevorrow case, the first successful stolen generations litigation.

Australian Foreign Policy in a contested Indo-Pacific Region

The future of the Indo-Pacific region is being buffeted by an array of complex forces including the return of great power rivalry, rising illiberalism, and growing nationalism. La Trobe University was privileged to be able to host Australia’s Foreign Minister, the Hon Julie Bishop MP, who delivered the first keynote address in Australia on foreign policy since the publication of the Turnbull Government’s foreign policy White Paper in November 2017.

Minister Bishop dsicussed the significant foreign policy challenges Australia is facing in the Indo-Pacific and how Australia can promote its interests in the fast-changing regional and international environment.

The Foreign Minister’s address was followed by a La Trobe University panel discussion with Professor Nick Bisley, Head of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences; Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow Tony Walker, and Dr Rebecca Strating lecturer in international relations in the Department of Politics and Philosophy.

Looking Outward: The Case for Compassion and Hope

We live at a time when our region and our world seem burdened by many heart-breaking and apparently insoluble problems—radical inequality between wealthy and impoverished nations; destitution caused by famine and war; never-ending refugee flows; political acts of ethnic cleansing and even genocide.

Tim Costello has devoted his life to searching for practical solutions to problems faced by peoples across the globe in situations of distress and to encouraging his fellow citizens to assist in such vital work. As Tim recounts his experience from his most recent trip to the Bangladesh Rohingya refugee camps, his message is not one of despair but of compassion and of hope.

There is no broadcaster in this country more highly regarded for their professionalism, fair-mindedness and penetration than ABC Melbourne’s Jon Faine, who has become a part of the democratic architecture of his home state, Victoria.