Politics, protests and prison life

It’s the story of the La Trobe Three – Brian Pola, Fergus Robinson and Barry York – three young student activists who were jailed indefinitely for disobeying a University order to stay off campus almost 45 years ago and my next Bold Thinking Series lecture brings all three together for the first time to talk about their story – what happened then and what has happened since.  Tickets are almost sold out but if you’re interested in coming along to the State Library Theatrette on Thursday 24 August, you can still purchase these on Eventbrite.

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Image via Eventbrite

I’ve spoken to all three men and the gravity of what they went through has stayed with me and I have no doubt that their time in prison as young men has left an indelible impact on their lives – I’m very much looking forward to hearing them speak.  The lecture will be facilitated as usual by MC Francis Leach but La Trobe historian Professor Katie Holmes will also be on the panel to provide some wider context about that period of time in the early 1970s.

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Michael Kirby image via La Trobe University

I’ve been interested reading Michael Kirby’s remarks in the news this week about the same sex postal vote and it was an honour to meet the great man in May – it’s been a humbling experience to work on the whole Bold Thinking lecture series and witness some real change taking place in the community as a result of a staging an open discussion with both sides having a chance to voice their opinion and further action being taken post-event, as was the case in Bendigo (multiculturalism) earlier this year.

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Image via Wattle Festival Hurstbridge

My lecture next month in Shepparton will be along similar lines to Bendigo while the October lecture will see me working with another former Australian Prime Minister…I will reveal details soon but may also need to catch my breath at some stage.  Winter’s almost over and I’ve started seeing blossom on the trees and a blaze of bright yellow wattle at work, which means the Wattle Festival in Hurstbridge isn’t far away. Bring on Spring!

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Something different

‘Expansion’ has been my word for 2017 and there has been a magical quality to life this year since I chose that word, which has culminated in the past week – one of the most busy and challenging professional weeks I have ever had and likely to be the high point of the year for me.

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L-R (seated): Patrick Keyzer, Anne-Maree Farrell, Gary Dowsett, Justice Michael Kirby, VC John Dewar (standing)

I met ex-High Court judge Michael Kirby (or the Hon. Michael Kirby AC CMG as he is officially known) at last Thursday night’s Bold Thinking Series lecture on Health, Law & Sexuality held at the NGV Great Hall, which had fully sold out one week prior.  It’s a beautiful space with stained glass ceilings by Leonard French, which seats 600 people and the lecture was a whole-of-University project, that included support from my colleagues in the Office of the Vice Chancellor, 50th Anniversary Office, Law School, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society (ARCSHS), Alumni and Events as well as my usual working party in Marketing and Recruitment.  Justice Kirby was, and is, indeed a great man and it was an honour to have him speak at our event – he was flying out to Japan the following day to receive an Order of the Rising Sun honour from the Emperor of Japan no less and it was a learning experience for me to look at all the pomp and ceremony required for people of this stature – La Trobe University had organised an aide-de-camp to accompany Justice Kirby for his entire stay with us as well as his own green room at the NGV on the night.  I was very relieved to get to the VIP event at the NGV Garden Restaurant after the lecture to enjoy its success.IMG_5745

I flew out on Sunday afternoon high above the clouds of Melbourne to attend the Leading Now 2017 leadership summit held at the Mantra on Salt in Kingscliff – about 15 minutes drive south from the Gold Coast Airport and the start of the stunning northern NSW beaches region which includes Cabarita Beach (where Halcyon House is located) and Byron Bay – another place I’d like to return to at some stage.  The Mantra on Salt is located in the Salt Village area including Peppers Salt Resort and Spa where some of the other speakers and I all stayed.

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My balcony view – Peppers Salt Resort

While I’m used to attending networking events in the arts and culture space, as well as marketing, this was something entirely different for me to be surrounded by a group of high calibre leaders mainly from the corporate arena.  It made me realise that my own journey has been a very different one since leaving corporate life behind and starting this blog – no less valuable but perhaps the road less travelled.  In my heart of hearts, I will always be an inherently more creative, and persuasive, person with a different take on things to the mainstream – something I’ve started to see increasingly more as a strength than a weakness these past few years.

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Image via louisemahler.com.au

But back to the leadership summit, it was both daunting and inspiring to be in the presence of some truly great leaders and keynote speakers including Dr Louise Mahler whose magnificent presentation on body language was a real ice-breaker at the ‘fork and talk’ opening night dinner where we all met for the first time.  Equally impressive was Dr Jason Fox – the swashbuckling international speaker and author on motivation strategy and design, who embodies inner-north Melbourne hipster, including bushranger beard and coffee addiction.  I was lucky enough to have him sit in on my Think Out loud session on communications in the age of social media yesterday, and I hope I was able to teach such a clever person something new.

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Image via drjasonfox.com.au

I also met some other amazingly positive, dynamic, smart and interesting female leaders in the form of my fellow speakers and attendees at the summit – too many to mention here suffice to say that this event took things to a whole new level for me – to be in the company of such inspiring people and learn new things about myself and the skills which great leaders have, or can develop – was priceless.  I feel very grateful to my former Telstra colleague Tiffany Gray from Prism Brain Mapping (and her co-conspirator Monique Rattray-Wood) who gave me the opportunity to be involved in this inaugural summit.  I flew home late last night and it’s going to take me some time to process all the information I was exposed to at the summit as it was definitely not an ordinary, but an extraordinary experience – one which will stay with me for a long time.

A Garden State

It’s been a really busy start to the year and I can’t believe my next Bold Thinking Series lecture – Michael Kirby on Health, Law & Sexuality is on next week at the NGV Great Hall, which holds 600 people and we are almost at capacity.  La Trobe University has been bringing out the big guns in terms of names with former PM Paul Keating being the keynote speaker at the Ideas & Society lecture on our role in Asia the Trump era, run by Emeritus Professor and public intellectual Robert Manne, at the Melbourne Recital Centre this Friday.  This event sold out within the first week or so of being advertised.

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Image via Speakeasy HQ

I also out went out on Sunday night with my workmates to see my Irish friend Colum perform in his show Improv Against Humanity (based on the naughty card game) as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.  Before the show, we tried for a table at Supernormal in Flinders Lane, which was super crowded and so decided to go to the Garden State Hotel (on the former Rosati’s site), which was also going off when we entered.  The resident DJ was spinning some pretty groovy tunes so it was a shame we couldn’t stay for a dance – we opted for a basement booth table away from the noise and ordered counter meals after walking into the restaurant, which was more pricey.

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Image via Speakeasy HQ

Colum’s gig had been shifted to Speakeasy HQ past the Waterside Hotel in Flinders Street – it’s Melbourne’s only dedicated vaudeville venue (and art gallery) located upstairs with a lounge bar outside the stage area and is housed in a former gold-rush era bank building – I was admiring the beautiful patterned ceiling while I was there.  And the gig?  It was very funny and improv performers are brave souls indeed – so quick off the mark….let’s just say that the words ‘semen’ and ‘dolphin’ were put to good use over the course of the evening.  Colum is not my only talented work friend, I discovered another friend Michelle used to be a high school teacher by day and a salsa dancer by night!  Next time out there will definitely be a bit of boogie-ing on down.

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Image via Garden State Hotel

If you attended a Dawn Service this morning, I hope you managed to have a restful afternoon this Anzac Day.  It’s been nice to pause and reflect.

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Image via Garden State Hotel