Monthly Public Lectures

HSV Lecture Archive:  2019   2018   2017   2016   2015   2014   2013   2012

Humanist Society of Victoria public lectureThe Humanist Society of Victoria hosts a series of monthly public lectures by guest speakers raising questions of public interest and importance. We welcome everyone interested in fostering a more rational and caring society. You will find a link to a summary of each lecture as they become available.

Entry is by gold-coin donation at the door. For enquiries, contact Stephen Stuart on (03) 9857 8318 or at

When: Fourth Thursday of each month, 6:00 pm for 6:30 pm start


Secularism, Humanism and Political Engagement

Thursday 28 March 2019, 6:30 pm
Kew Seniors Centre, 533 High Street, Kew, Victoria (note changed venue)

(opposite Boroondara Cemetery, Tram Route: 24, 48, Melway 45: F4-5) (Find on Google Maps)

Photo of Fiona PattenFiona Patten

In Australia today, politics is a tug of war between social progressives and religious conservatives. Fiona Patten (Reason Party) will give us a rundown on the aftermath of the November 2018 election in Victoria and what the result means for the humanist and secularist progressive agenda. She will also brief us on the key issues to watch out for in the upcoming 2019 Federal election.

Bio: Fiona Patten is the leader of the Reason Party and currently holds a Victorian Legislative Council seat representing the Northern Metropolitan Region. She first established the Australian Sex Party in 2009 with a focus on censorship, freedom, marriage equality and drug law reform. To encapsulate a broader range of issues, she later changed the name of the Australian Sex Party to the Reason Party. Before entering politics, Fiona was CEO of Australia’s national adult industry association, Eros Association. She championed sexual rights and health movements for more than 20 years, particularly on HIV/AIDS.

Effective Altruism – Philosophy and Practice

Wednesday 24 April 2019, 6:30 pm [Note changed date]
Balwyn Library, 336 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn, Victoria (Find on Google Maps)

Photo of Vanessa ThompkinsVanessa Thompkins

Effective altruism is a philosophy, social movement and research field which is based on the intuitive idea of trying to do the most good. But the practical implications of this seemingly simple goal are often far from straightforward. In this talk, Vanessa will explore the philosophical underpinnings of effective altruism, as well as some of the strategies that a growing movement of people worldwide is using to attempt to improve the world as much as possible.

Bio: Vanessa is the current president of Effective Altruism Melbourne, a local group associated with the global effective altruism movement. In 2018, she received a grant from the Centre for Effective Altruism to continue running the group, in recognition of her successful work on growing and strengthening the effective altruism community in Melbourne. A maths and computer science student at the University of Melbourne, she has a keen interest in using effective altruism ideas in combination with her technical knowledge to improve mental health worldwide.

Freedom of and from Religion in Australia:
Recent Developments and Future Directions

Thursday 27 June, 6:30 pm
Balwyn Library, 336 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn, Victoria
(Find on Google Maps)

Photo of Luke Beck (Associate Professor, Law Resources, Monash University)

Associate Professor Luke Beck

In this talk, Luke Beck will examine contemporary debates concerning freedom of and from religion in Australia. What does freedom of religion mean in Australia? What are the consequences of the Ruddock Religious Freedom Review? Will other jurisdictions follow the ACT’s lead and abolish school chaplains? Is religious discrimination a problem in Australia? Does Australia need a Religious Freedom Commissioner? Do religious lobby groups have much impact on government policies? These questions and more will be discussed at this important event.

Bio: Luke Beck is an Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at Monash University and a leading expert on religious freedom and constitutional separation of religion and state issues in Australia. He is the author of Religious Freedom and the Australian Constitution: Origins and Future (Routledge, 2018).

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