HSV Monthly Public Lectures Archive 2019

Photo taken at Humanist Society of Victoria Monthly Public Lecture on 28 March 2019 at Kew Seniors Centre - Fiona Patten (leader of Reason Party) on 'Secularism, Humanism and Political Engagement'Humanists 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 it becomes available.

Where: Balwyn Library, 336 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn, Victoria (Melways: 46 E8)
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. Read Lecture Summary …

Bios: Steven, a former Jehovah’s Witness and founder of JW Survivors, JW Leaks and co-founder of saysorry.org, 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 saysorry.org.

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 Patten

Fiona 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. Read Lecture Summary …

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 Thompkins

Vanessa 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. Read Lecture Summary … View Presentation Slides …

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.

Voluntary Assisted Dying Legislation: Impacts and Implementation

Thursday 23 May 2019, 6:30 pm
Balwyn Library, 336 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn, Victoria
(Find on Google Maps)

Photo of Mark Newstead

Mark Newstead

Following the passing of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act in Victoria last year, much work now needs to be done. Mark will provide an update on the ramp up to full implementation in July and what the legislation means for Victorians. Read Lecture Summary …

Bio: Mark is Treasurer and Board member of Dying With Dignity Victoria. He has extensive experience in media and market research and in organizing conferences. Mark was a key organizer of the 2010 World Federation of Right to Die Societies biennial global conference.

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

Thursday 27 June 2019, 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. Read Lecture Summary …

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).

Reproductive Coercion and Religion

Thursday 25 July 2019, 6:30 pm
Balwyn Library, 336 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn, Victoria
(Find on Google Maps)

Jacquie O'Brien

Jacquie O’Brien

Jacquie will draw on the findings of a recent White Paper released by Marie Stopes Australia on the issue of reproductive coercion. She will discuss specifically some of the structural issues in Australia that can prevent people from making decisions about their sexual and reproductive health. Jacquie will look at some of the cultural and religious influences involved in Reproductive Coercion and draw on some of the experiences of Australians who have left religious communities. Read Lecture Summary …

Bio: Jacquie O’Brien is Director of Public Affairs at Marie Stopes Australia, a national not-for-profit provider of sexual and reproductive health services. She specialises in the use of stories to create lasting positive social change. Jacquie coordinated the development and release of Marie Stopes Australia’s recent White Paper on Reproductive Coercion, Hidden Forces: Shining a light on Reproductive Coercion.

Deep Mental Health through Presence, Meaning and Connection

Thursday 22 August 2019, 6:30 pm
Hawthorn Community Precinct, 584 Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, Victoria
[Note changed venue] (Find on Google Maps)

Photo of Dr Debra Campbell

Dr Debra Campbell (psychologist and author)

Humanists think deeply about what gives meaning and purpose to living. In this address, Dr Debra Campbell will examine how positive psychology and emphasising love in all its aspects can lead us to become more present, healthy and connected to our sense of meaning in our lives. Read Lecture Summary …

Bio: Dr Debra Campbell has worked as a psychologist in private practice for almost 20 years in a variety of areas, including relationships, panic, depression and grief. She worked as a couple therapist at Relationships Australia and collaborated with author/psychotherapist Dr Francis Macnab on thought-leadership in well being, relationships and spirituality. She is also a former university lecturer and author of Lovelands.

Sex Workers, Fundamentalist Christians and Radical Feminists

Thursday 26 September 2019, 6:30 pm
Balwyn Library, 336 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn, Victoria (Find on Google Maps)

Photo of Kitty Galore

Kitty Galore and Lisa Marie Dallimore (Sex Work Law Reform Victoria)

In recent years, fundamentalist Christians and radical feminists have formed an unholy alliance in their attempts to abolish sex work. In this talk, Kitty Galore and Lisa Marie Dallimore (Sex Work Law Reform Victoria) examine these two strange bedfellows and the unlikely alignment of their principles and arguments. After analysing the opposing views in the area of sex work regulation in Victoria, they will examine the consequences of the neo-abolitionist position for human rights. Read Lecture Summary …

Bio: Sex Work Law Reform Victoria (SWLRV) is a law reform organisation founded in 2018, made up of current and former sex workers and allies who support sex workers’ rights. Its primary objective is the removal of criminal penalties associated with consensual adult sex work. Kitty Galore was raised in a Christian family before she became a full-time sex worker. She now hosts Australia’s only sex work radio show and actively supports both local and migrant women in Australia’s sex industry. Lisa Marie Dallimore is a writer, performer and artist who worked as an escort for five years. She is a sex workers’ rights advocate and a long time committed feminist.

Yesterday’s Child: Gene Editing, Enhancement and Obsolescence

Thursday 24 October 2019, 6:30 pm
Balwyn Library, 336 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn, Victoria (Find on Google Maps)

Photo of Robert Sparrow

Professor Robert Sparrow (Professor, Philosophy, Monash University)

The development of the CRISPR gene-editing technology has led many to believe that genetic human enhancement is now a realistic possibility. Advocates of gene editing for enhancement typically assume that gene-editing technology will improve rapidly. In this lecture, Robert Sparrow will discuss how this rapid progress risks obsolescence. Will the year-on-year improvements to genetic enhancements for children make those enhancements go rapidly out of date? Eventually, will every modified child find themself to be “yesterday’s child”? This kind of obsolescence and its impacts raises serious questions about how we understand ourselves as individuals and social beings. Read Lecture Summary …

Bio: Robert Sparrow is a Professor in the Philosophy Program and a Chief Investigator in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science. He works on ethical issues raised by new technologies.

Why Animals Matter

Thursday 28 November, 7:15 pm
Balwyn Library, 336 Whitehorse Rd, Balwyn, Victoria (Find on Google Maps)

Photo of Meg Chanom (Animals Australia)

Meg Chanom (Animals Australia)

In this talk, Meg Chanom will work to unravel our inherited belief systems about the role of animals in our lives and society. She will address how our treatment of animals intersects with other critical issues facing the world today. These issues include the climate crisis, human health and global hunger. Come and be challenged in your thinking about our relationships with and our moral obligations to other species.

Bio: Meg Chanom has spent much of her life so far as a professional Mixed Martial Arts athlete and coach, learning the nuances of discovering the best in herself and others while volunteering for animal and environmental causes in her spare time. In order to dedicate as much time as possible to creating crucial change, Meg now works in the Development team at Animals Australia alongside other passionate advocates to empower individuals to make compassionate choices.

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