What is the role of justice in a free society?

Talking Justice logoIs there always a clear and just solution to every problem? How do we approach a conversation around justice that respectfully acknowledges different perspectives? What is the place of the law and justice in a free society?

Quality public engagement around justice issues is critical. Our understanding of what is meant by ‘justice’ has real and immediate impacts on our lives and the health of our community. Loddon Campaspe CLC believes that an open dialogue around issues of justice is essential to the success of our work.

To quote political philospher Michael Sandel: “To achieve a just society we have to reason together about the meaning of the good life, and to create a public culture hospitable to the disagreements that will inevitably arise.”

As a curtain raiser to  Law Week 2014, Loddon Campaspe CLC is hosting a weekend of public conversations in the centre of Bendigo’s arts precinct around the role of justice in a free society, featuring some of Australia’s finest writers and thinkers.

The program sources diverse voices and perspectives. Speakers come from a range of backgrounds and positions but are distinguished by their passion and expertise. The program is guided by the principles of respect, balance, diversity, accessibility and non-partisanship. It is designed to promote a culture of respect and commitment to ongoing dialogue.

All sessions will be moderated by Boyer Lecturer, Professor Martin Krygier. Martin is the Gordon Samuels Professor of Law and Social Theory, and Co-Director of the Network for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law, University of NSW.

All sessions will be held in La Trobe University’s Visual Arts Centre.


6:30-7:30pm – Graham Atkinson will welcome visitors to country and talk about the law’s ability to deliver justice for aboriginal people, from native title to freedom from racial vilification. Professor Martin Krygier will set the scene for the weekend’s upcoming conversations and foreshadow the breadth of perspectives. Followed by drinks and finger food, provided courtesy of Bress Winery and The Good Loaf.

10:00-10:45am – Father Frank Brennan: Asylum seekers; how do we balance fairness, safety and compassion?
11:00-11:45am – Simon Breheny: Freedom of speech and the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.
12:00-12:45pm – Nicholas Cowdery: Is drug law reform less harmful than prohibition? Are there smarter responses to criminal behaviour?

2:15-3:00pm – Professor Arie Freiberg: Sentencing, parole boards and changing laws for individuals.
3:15-4:00pm – Debbie Kilroy: Criminal justice; who are the real victims?
4:15-5:00 – Anne Manne: Will paid parental leave make things equal?

Sunday morning’s sessions include tea, coffee and pastry, provided courtesy of Apple Annie’s Bakery Cafe.
8:30-9:15am – Kate Auty: Who bears the burden of climate change impacts and how do we compensate them?
9:30-10:15am – Raimond Gaita: The justice and morality of politics and policy


Graham Atkinson
Graham is a founding member and Chairperson of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation. He is also a Director of Native Title Services Victoria and a Director of the Indigenous Land Council.

Professor Kate Auty
Kate is a lawyer, academic and Victoria’s former Victorian Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability. She is Chairperson at National Rural Law and Justice Alliance and Adjunct Professor at La Trobe University. She has also worked as a magistrate and coroner.

Simon Breheny
Simon is Director of the Legal Rights Project and Editor of FreedomWatch at the Institute of Public Affairs. He is a regular media commentator on issues around the rule of law and freedom of speech.

Father Frank Brennan
Frank is a Jesuit priest, professor of law at Australian Catholic University and Adjunct Professor at the Australian National University College of Law and National Centre for Indigenous Studies as well as the Australian Centre for Christianity and Culture.

Nicolas Cowdery QC
Nicholas was the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions from 1994 to 2011. He is the author of Getting Justice Wrong: myths, media and crime.

Professor Arie Freiberg
Arie was Dean of the Faculty Law at Monash University between 2004 and 2012. In 2013 he was appointed an Emeritus Professor of the University. He is the Chair of Victoria’s Sentencing Advisory Council.

Raimond Gaita
Raimond is best known as the author of Romulus, My Father, set in Central Victoria. He is Professorial Fellow in the Melbourne Law School and the Faculty of Arts, University of Melbourne, and Emeritus Professor of Moral Philosophy at King’s College London.

Debbie Kilroy
Debbie is a prison abolitionist, women’s and Aboriginal women’s rights campaigner, former prisoner, criminal defence lawyer and CEO of Sisters Inside, which advocates for the human rights of women in the criminal justice system.

Professor Martin Krygier
Martin is the Gordon Samuels Professor of Law and Social Theory and the Co-Director of the Network for Interdisciplinary Studies of Law at the University of NSW. In 1997 he presented the Boyer Lectures: Between Fear and Hope – Hybrid Thoughts on Public Views.

Anne Manne
Anne is a Melbourne writer. She has been a columnist for The Australian, The Age and The Monthly. Her book Motherhood: how should we care for our children, was a finalist in the Walkley Award for Best Non-Fiction Book. Her new book on narcissism will be released by Melbourne University Press in July 2014.


Victoria Law Foundation, La Trobe University, Arnold Dallas McPherson, Stuthridge Legal, The Good Loaf, Strategem, Bress Winery, Apple Annie’s Bakery Cafe

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