Australia dreaming

Carlton conversations @ the Clare Castle Hotel

2011 series — 'What I believe and why'

Mostly what we believe is revealed in our actions, in what we do with our lives. In this series of conversations we ask some people doing interesting things with their life to reflect on what it is that makes them do what they do and be the kind of people they are.

This 'What I Believe and Why' series will introduce us to people driven by a wide range of beliefs. Perhaps over time a pattern will emerge. Of course the aim is not simply to come along and listen to speakers. It is to engage in a conversation and inevitably we will discover more about ourselves as well as what we learn from our presenters.

We hope their stories and conversations will stimulate your imagination and animate our action.

This initial series of Carlton conversations will focus on individual beliefs. In 2011 there will be a series of conversations about cultural issues of interest to people in Carlton and in the City of Melbourne.

Download a printable poster for the December event (PDF, 5.1Mb).

Conversation dates
Thursday 17 March Tony Keenan
CEO Hanover Welfare Services
Thursday 14 April Kon Karapanagiotidis
CEO & Founder Asylum Seeker Resource Centre
Thursday 19 May Uncle Jack Charles
Indigenous Elder & Actor
Thursday 16 June Dr Maria Tumarkin
Writer and Historian
Thursday 21 July Sunny Chen
Queen's College Chaplain
Thursday 18 August Professor David Karoly
Australian Climatologist
Thursday 22 September Keith Storace
Psychologist and Manager
Thursday 20 October Evan Thornley
CEO, Better Places
Thursday 10 November Jelena Popovic
Deputy Chief Magistrate, Victoria
Thursday 8 December Australia Dreaming Christmas Special
'An art and musical ADVENTure' featuring Mike Finch (Artistic Director - Circus Oz)
When 6pm for 6:30 — 8pm
Where Clare Castle Hotel
421 Rathdowne St, Carlton
Tickets $25 includes 'Conversation' & Dinner
Bookings 0423 407 499, 9347 8171 or

Tony Keenan — CEO of Hanover Welfare Services

I believe in people's capacity to change and to change their circumstances; if I didn't I couldn't go to work each day. Maybe that's the one remnant of my catholic upbringing — a sense of faith, of faith in people. I have come to believe that compassion is overrated as a virtue, especially when a commitment to rigour, change and outcomes are sacrificed to it. I also believe that the decline of community is one of the big drivers of serious disadvantage.

Tony Keenan is currently CEO of Hanover Welfare Services and Chair of the Foyer Foundation. He was appointed by Minister Lawrence, and then Minister Wooldridge to Chair the development of Australia's Third National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which was then adopted in 1997.

Professor Brian Howe will MC the conversation with Tony Keenan.

Download a poster (PDF, 2.8Mb) for the event.

Kon Karapanagiotidis — CEO and founder of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre

I believe we all have the power to change the world and a moral responsibility to make as much 'trouble' as we need to in order to champion and protect the rights of the oppressed. We must rally against the mediocrity of vision and spirit that holds most of us hostage and instead welcome and embrace that which we are most afraid of, as only then will we find our true voice.

In 2001, Kon founded the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) which has now become Victoria's premier facility for providing a variety of welfare and legal services to asylum seekers.
Kon is also a stand-up comedian and often performs in community theatres in his spare time. He frequently features on community radio programs and also hosts Greek cooking classes, with his trademark dish being baklava. He will shortly be awarded an Order of Australia for his work with asylum seekers.

Uncle Jack Charles — Indigenous Elder and Actor

The documentary 'Bastardy' and my recent theatre performance 'Uncle Jack vs The Crown' has allowed me to find not only my voice but a sense of place within my community. I consider that as an Indigenous Elder I have much to offer my people, those in prison and also those who, like me, have had years of battling addiction. I hope to foster a similar sense of belonging in others.

Uncle Jack Charles is an Aboriginal Elder who pioneered Koorie theatre. In the early 1970s, he founded the first Aboriginal theatre company in Australia, Nindethana, and was a television regular and the star of movies including 'The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith'. Jack is an actor, musician, and potter, but in his nearly 70 years he has also been homeless, an addict, a thief and a regular in Victoria's prisons. A member of the Stolen Generation, Jack has spent his life in between acting gigs caught in the addiction/crime/doing time cycle. And he lives to tell the extraordinary tale.

Dr Maria Tumarkin — Writer and Historian

I believe that courage (from Latin "cor" meaning heart) is the forgotten virtue in Australian public life. Without it, we are stuck with the politics of convenience, not conviction. Without it, we are surrounded by thinking that confirms our fears and feeds our sense of entitlement. I believe that we need courage (as much of it as we can handle) to stop slogans replacing actual ideas and to make sure that opportunism and cynicism do not come to dominate our public life.

Maria Tumarkin is a writer and a historian. She is the author of three books 'Traumascapes', 'Courage' and 'Otherland'. 'Otherland' has been shortlisted for Victorian and NSW Premier Awards as well as the Age Book of the Year. She has just completed a stint as Research Fellow at the Institute of Social Research at Swinburne where she worked on an international 'Social Memory and Historical Justice' project.

Sunny Chen — Queen's College Chaplain

I believe in a God who transforms people. And I believe that the essence of the Christian faith is best expressed through transformed lives, instead of mere religious dogma. In our society, which sees faith as largely irrelevant, I believe that there is a thirst for transformation that lies deep within many.

Sunny is a Uniting Church Minister. He became Chaplain of Queen's College (University of Melbourne) in 2009. Previously he was a secondary school teacher in Hong Kong before his theological training in the United States. Since he arrived in Melbourne eleven years ago, Sunny had been a youth worker and a parish minister of several Uniting Church congregations, including Mulgrave & Wheelers Hill Uniting Church.

Professor David Karoly — Australian Climatologist at the University of Melbourne

I believe that climate change due to human activity will have profound impacts on modern society and our way of life. The development of modern society has been based on energy from fossil fuels and on land clearing for agriculture, but we have disposed of the waste, carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere. We are now starting to see some of the costs associated with the adverse impacts of climate change due to increasing carbon dioxide, and these will grow dramatically in the future.

I believe that decisions we make this decade will determine which of two very different paths our society will follow. On one path, business as usual, energy driving our society continues to be provided mainly from fossil fuels, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere continues to grow, and there are ever increasing impacts from weather and climate extremes, including more heat waves, more bush fires, more flooding and more coastal inundation. On the alternative path, aimed at minimising dangerous climate change, society transforms to use low or zero carbon renewable energy sources, with much reduced future climate change. This transformation of our society is possible using technologies available now but it requires concerted action from government, business and communities. Delay in acting to reduce carbon dioxide emissions is consciously deciding to make the problem worse. I believe that society will respond to this great challenge, and choose the latter path.

Professor Karoly is an internationally recognised expert in climate change and climate variability, including greenhouse climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion and interannual climate variations due to El Nino-Southern Oscillation. Professor Karoly joined the School of Earth Sciences in May 2007 as a Federation Fellow funded by the Australian government. From 2003, he held the Williams Chair in the School of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma. During 2001-2002, he was Professor of Meteorology and Head of the School of Mathematical Sciences at Monash University. From August 1995, he was Director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Southern Hemisphere Meteorology at Monash University until it closed in June 2000. David was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize (jointly with Al Gore) for his work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Keith Storace — Psychologist and Manager at the Royal Melbourne Hospital

I believe isolation occurs where communication fails. To a large extent, this premise has compelled me to work in human services for the past three decades. Our contribution to community is an invitation to relationship - a space where individuals can emerge from personal truth and be open to the possibilities that interacting with others may reveal. I believe that the process of discovering what we need to learn and the process of living what we have learned determine our interpretation of the world around us, and our place in it. In essence, I believe life is about connections and working through the distractions that prevent engagement.

Keith Storace is Manager of Sub-acute Ambulatory & Community Services at the Royal Melbourne Hospital and also works in private practice as a Psychologist. His work with individuals and families within various community health and education settings, including: disability services for children and adults, personal development programs, aged care, Jewish holocaust survivors programs, and acquired brain injury, lead to the development and publication of his approach to Case Management: 'Good Case Management is Like an Active Mandala' which emphasizes the power of community. Keith is in the process of writing his first book titled: 'Dream the Dance - Dance the Dream' which explores the journey from idea to motivation to action.

Jelena Popovic — Deputy Chief Magistrate

I believe that despite its imperfections, the Common Law of twenty-first century Australian democracy is a protector of Justice and Human Rights and can be an agent to advance Social Justice. Its tenets must be preserved without erosion. I would like to talk with you about these beliefs, drawing on my 33 years in the law, 22 of which I have proudly served as Victorian Magistrate.

After 10 years in practice as a solicitor, Jelena was appointed to the Victorian Magistracy in August, 1989, and became a Deputy Chief Magistrate in 1997. She has been a member of the Adult Parole Board since 1997. Jelena is passionate about the significant role of the Magistrates' Court in our community, particularly in its criminal jurisdiction, and its dealings with those who are alleged to have committed crimes, those who have committed crimes and the victims of those crimes. She has been a driving force in introducing 'problem solving' and measures to reduce crime. Her primary focus has been how to address the 'revolving door' nature of the criminal justice system. As a part of this, she has for many years been interested in indigenous, drug, disability, mental health and homelessness issues and how they impact on defendants in the criminal justice system. Her current delegations as Deputy Chief Magistrate are: Co-Ordinating Magistrate of the Koori Court; portfolio responsibility for Criminal Justice Diversion Program, Street Sex Worker List, Enforcement Review Program (which deals with mentally impaired fine defaulters) and the Court Integrated Services Program which includes the Magistrates' Court's 'Court Support Services'. and CISP is a multi-disciplinary program within the Magistrates' Court which provides services to address drug dependency, homelessness, youth crime, disability and mental impairment. Jelena has been awarded a Churchill Fellowship to study 'meaningful' sentencing of indigent, low level offenders in 2012.

Mike Finch — Artistic Director, Circus Oz (with special guest, Uncle Jack Charles)

I believe in the power of groups, and circus as a vehicle for positive community. Margaret Mead wrote: 'Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.' I would add (with all due respect): ...and if you can make that group eclectic, funny, musical, acrobatic, spectacular, irreverent, co-operative, breathtaking, absurd and inclusive, and appeal to the broadest possible audience, then you might have something that looks a bit like Circus Oz.

Mike has worked as a shearing roustabout, pastry cook, parade designer, film-maker, street performer, associate lecturer and half-wit. He graduated from (and did some teaching at) the innovative Theatre/Media course at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst. He was one-third of the Banana Brothers busking trio, started his relationship with Circus Oz as an intern in 1992 and, as part of a company called Precarious, started Circus Monoxide in 1995. He's been Artistic Director of Circus Oz since 1997.

Review the 2010 series