Monthly Public Lectures

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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

Religious Institutions and the Harm They Do: Whistleblower Update

Thursday 28 February 2019, 6:30 pm
Balwyn Library, 336 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn, Victoria
 (Find on Google Maps)

Photos of Steven Unthank and Lara KaputSteven Unthank and Lara Kaput

Steven Unthank and Lara Kaput, ex-Jehovah’s Witness whistleblowers, travelled through Europe late last year meeting with both government and non-government organisations in order to raise the priority on stemming the abuse perpetrated by the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Watch Tower Society. In this update, they will discuss progress and the highlights of the recent National Apology to victims and survivors of institutional child sexual abuse.

Bios: Steven, a former Jehovah’s Witness and founder of JW Survivors, JW Leaks and co-founder of, is regularly involved in state, federal, and international inquiries and investigations into the Church of Jehovah’s Witnesses. Between 2011 and 2012, Steven prosecuted the Church of Jehovah’s Witnesses and related corporate entities in the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria over criminal breaches of child protection laws. A successful campaigner who is often sought out as a consultant and for access to his large legal war chest of internal and confidential church documents and records spanning the past 100 years.

Lara was a child-indoctrinated Jehovah’s Witness. She has a Bachelor of Chemistry, was a Personal Trainer and became a Management Consultant. Lara has submitted formal complaints to the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), the Australian Human Rights Commission and objected officially to the charity status of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society and related corporate entities. Lara has also reported child abuse cases to law enforcement, Child Protection and the Commission for Children and Young People (CCYP). Lara is the co-host of ‘JW Community Podcast’ and co-founder of

Secularism, Humanism and Political Engagement

Thursday 28 March 2019, 6:30 pm
Balwyn Library, 336 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn, Victoria
 (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.

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