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Activist of the Year Award supported by Enova Community Energy

Dr Hugh Mackay to present Activist of the Year Award and call for a more compassionate society at the Ngara Institute Annual Lecture

Will Steffen and Lesley Hughes from the Climate Council will receive the Australian Activist of the Year Award at the Ngara Institute’s Annual Lecture to be delivered by Dr Hugh Mackay.

The Award will be presented by one of Australia’s national treasures, social researcher Dr Hugh Mackay, who will be the keynote speaker for the Ngara Institute’s Annual Lecture to be held in Mullumbimby on 20 July.

Dr Mackay has dedicated his life to uncovering what makes Australians tick. The best-selling author and renowned social researcher shine a light on who we are, how we live, the relationships we create, and the thread of our social fabric.


Dr Hugh Mackay’s Australia reimagined

Join Ngara Institute and Hugh MacKay to delve into the social and cultural shifts, both big and small, that have spread through society over the past few generations, creating increasing distrust, disillusionment and fragmentation.

Last year Dr Mackay published his “most outspoken” book ever on a topic he is passionate about: rebuilding social cohesion. The title says it all: Australia Reimagined: Towards A More Compassionate, Less Anxious Society.

According to Dr Mackay, when it comes to our ecological, social, cultural and economic future, misplaced optimism is as dangerous as blind faith. What is needed is the courage to face the way things are, and the wisdom and imagination - informed by the best available evidence - to work out how to make things better.

Australia's unprecedented run of economic growth has failed to deliver a more stable or harmonious society. Individualism is rampant. Income inequality is growing. Public education is under-resourced. The gender revolution is stalling. We no longer trust our major institutions or our political leaders. We are more socially fragmented, more anxious, more depressed, more overweight, more medicated, deeper in debt and increasingly addicted - whether to our digital devices, drugs, pornography or 'stuff'.

Dr Mackay says the recent negative, dishonest and ruthlessly competitive election campaign did not help. A strong civil society depends on people genuinely engaging with each other in mutually respectful ways. It depends also on close, inclusive and supportive communities finding their way to common ground.

Despite a sense of doom and gloom he feels is prevailing in society, Dr Mackay is endlessly optimistic about what the future holds.

"Whenever I spend time with younger people, the much-maligned millennials, I think they are much better equipped to deal with the changes in society. They understand the need to work more cooperatively, to be less competitive, less individualistic. They are the keys to a better future."


Activists of the Year award, supported by Enova Community Energy

The evening will open with the presentation of the Australian Activist of the Year Award to Will Steffen and Lesley Hughes of the Climate Council. This Award is given with the support of Enova Community Energy.

“As an organisation created to disrupt to status quo in the energy industry, Enova is very pleased to support Ngara Institute’s ongoing efforts to recognise Australia’s activists who are at the forefront of pushing for and creating the right kind of change,” said Alison Cook AO, Enova Community Energy Chair.

“Will Stephen and Lesley Hughes have made vitally important contributions to understanding and addressing climate change. The Activist of the Year award is a wonderful achievement.

“And to have the opportunity to hear one of Australia’s pre-eminent social researchers speak, here in Mullumbimby, is an absolute gift to the community. Dr Mackay’s work points us all in the direction of connecting and collaborating to solve the issues we face today – and they are values at the very core of why Enova was formed in the first place,” she said.

Will Steffen will give a short talk, followed by Mayor Simon Richardson launching the Byron Shire Human Rights Charter, a co-creation after Ngara Institute’s 2018 Annual Lecture by Gillian Triggs.

professor lesley hughes  

Professor Lesley Hughes is a Distinguished Professor of Biology and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity & Development) at Macquarie University. Her research has mainly focused on the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems.

She is a former federal Climate Commissioner and former Lead Author in the IPCC’s 4th and 5th Assessment Report. She is also a Director for WWF Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, the Director of the Biodiversity Node for the NSW Adaptation Hub and a member of the expert advisory committee for Future Earth Australia.

Professor Will Steffen is a climate change expert and researcher at the Australian National University, Canberra. He was on the panel of experts supporting the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee, has served as the Science Adviser to the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, and was chair of the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee.

His research interests span a broad range within the fields of climate change and Earth System science, with an emphasis on sustainability, climate change and the Earth System. He is the author of numerous publications on climate science.

The Ngara Institute’s Ralph Summy Annual Lecture honours one of Australia’s leading peace, social justice and human rights scholars, Professor Ralph Summy, formerly the head of the Australian Peace and Conflict Studies Centre at the University of Queensland. His work advanced peace around the world recognised the struggles of Indigenous peoples, refugees and those impacted by wars.


Ngara Institute Annual Lecture Event Details

For an evening of intelligence, hope and insight join Ngara Institute at the Civic Memorial Hall, 55 Dalley St, Mullumbimby Saturday July 20 

from 5:30pm. Tickets on sale now.

More about the event:
5.30 p.m
Doors open for food and hot drinks
Heart-warming eats by Barrio Byron Bay
Hot drinks and sweet treats by Pure Melt

6pm – 7pm
Soulful tunes by Elena B Williams

7pm - 8:30pm
Guest speaker: Hugh MacKay
Activist of the Year 2019 Award: The Climate Council’s Will Steffen and Lesley Hughes

We hope to see you there!


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