The 2015 Council of Australian Humanist Societies Convention was hosted by the newly invigorated HSWA committee, who welcomed the opportunity to hold the event. This is only the second time it has been held in Perth and it was well attended.
The weekend started with an informal meet-and-greet dinner on the Friday night before the AGM the following morning.
Delegates from HSNSW, HSSA, HSV and HSWA attended the AGM, held at Seasons of Perth Hotel, along with several observers mainly from WA but also from Canberra and NSW. The incumbent CAHS Committee – Ian Bryce, who stepped in partway through the year as president, Mary Bergin, our longstanding and very capable secretary and Rosslyn Ives, AH editor – all attended. The NSW observer was sponsored by the Freethought Student Alliance. The FSA was well represented amongst the observers and would like to continue a strong association with Humanist groups. For Motion outcomes and Business on Notice see report below.
The Saturday night AHOY dinner was hosted by long-time HSWA member and past AHOY recipient, Diana Warnock. The AHOY this year, Carmen Lawrence, gave a thoughtful and interesting acceptance speech addressing the plight of Indigenous peoples.
A new CAHS Executive Committee from HSSA was elected. The newly elected president Scott Sharrad presented his vision for our national body which will present us all with much food for thought over the coming months. It must be said that Mary has been a spectacular CAHS Secretary for many years and she will be a hard act to follow.
A lovely cruise down the Swan River to Fremantle for lunch at a lively micro-brewery was organised for Sunday morning before interstate attendees headed home.
A big thankyou to HSWA for hosting this event. The host state for next year is still to be announced.
Anne Bowen, HSV delegate
I. HSV administrative motions re AHOY
- ‘That AHOY be presented to two people each year: one male, one female.’ Defeated 7:3. Concerns: dilution of reward; discriminatory to have special award for women; male bias re AHOY no longer applicable.
- ‘That a “Young AHOY” award be presented each year to two people (one male, one female under 30 years of age.’ Amended to: ‘That a Young AHOY be presented each year to a person under 30 years of age.’ Carried 8:2. Considered this would encourage younger generation to be more involved, give publicity etc.
- 3. Re: significant diversity. Motion considered redundant, lapsed without a seconder.
- Voluntary Humanist work for AHOY. Motion lapsed without a seconder.
- ‘That CAHS undertake a review of selection criteria regarding those whom we currently exclude from AHOY nomination, e.g. religion. Selection criteria should be in positive not negative terms.’ Amended to: ‘That CAHS undertake a review of selection criteria regarding AHOY nominations.’ Carried 7:3.
II. HSNSW motions
- ‘That CAHS lobby the Federal Government to eliminate the privileged position of religious charities.’ Carried unanimously.
- ‘That CAHS campaigns to oppose the violations of equality in education such as school chaplains.’ Carried unanimously.
- ‘That CAHS wholeheartedly disapprove of the closure of women’s refuges.’ As no action in motion above except “disapproval” it was amended to: ‘That CAHS lobby relevant Ministers and Rosie Batty registering our disapproval of the closure of Women’s refuges and their outsourcing to faith based organisations.’ Carried unanimously.
- ‘That CAHS discuss the issue of affiliation or membership of other organisations.’ An internal CAHS matter; put as motion to simulate discussion. Carried 10: Nil.
III. Business on notice
- Freethought Students Alliance and CAHS (presented under aegis of HSWA). Madge, FSA president, addressed the gathering: FSA a national organisation supporting Freethought Students societies in Australia with materials for Orientation Day publicity etc.
Motion: ‘That CAHS from its own funds donate $1,500 and that a FSA representative reports back on activities in a year and that regular communication takes place between the societies.’ Moved HSSA, sec. HSWA. Carried unanimously.
- Crowd/Group Funding for International Speakers on Humanism. Talk by Luke Spartalis from HSWA. International speakers draw crowds. Money invested for speakers’ tours. Formulas and States a sharing thing.
- City Sisters item of Business cancelled.
- 2016 Convention to be offered to HSQ, with HSV to do if HSQ unable to do.
- CAHS Auditor to be Erwin Swasbrook (HSWA treasurer).
- HSSA CAHS Executive: President Scott Sharrad; David Bartholemeusz, secretary; Stewart Henderson, treasurer.
General Business: The new president, Scott Sharrad, outlined possible changes that aim at turning CAHS into a national, rather than state-based organisation. Assets would be owned by national body.
Mary Bergin, retiring CAHS secretary