Forum finds a future in Bendigo

THE Talking Justice forum is earmarked to become an annual event on the Bendigo calendar.

The forum opened in Bendigo on Friday night and continued throughout the weekend with an impressive line-up of speakers including Father Frank Brennan, Raimond Gaita, Anne Manne, Graham Atkinson, Kate Auty, Arie Freiberg, Simon Breheny, Debbie Kilroy and Nicholas Cowdery QC.

THOUGHTFUL:  Anne Manne speaks at the forum on Saturday. Picture: LIZ FLEMING

THOUGHTFUL: Anne Manne speaks at the forum on Saturday. Picture: LIZ FLEMING

The event was organised by the Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre and was designed to start conversations about the role of justice in a free society.

Topics covered included asylum seeker policy, gender equity, native title, freedom of speech, criminal justice and sentencing policy, environmental sustainability and compensation, and justice and morality. 

LCCLC co-principal lawyer Anna Howard said the event was very successful.

"We know the Friday night and Saturday morning sessions sold out," she said.

"The rest of the weekend was very well-attended, including Sunday morning which was a very early start and a big ask for people considering it was Mother's Day.

"It demonstrated there's a real hunger for these kinds of discussions in Bendigo.

"We'd like it to become an annual event and we'll be discussing how we can make this happen in future years."

Ms Howard said the discussions generated by the guest speakers were thoughtful and provocative.

"We started off with Graham Atkinson who spoke about justice issues as they relate to Aboriginal people," she said.

"We then had Father Frank Brennan speaking on asylum seekers and the moral dilemma we face there.

"He's exceptionally eloquent and has an amazing ability to distill a very complex issue down into a digestible and understandable form ...  He's not just a moral philosopher, he's also a realist.

"That probably followed through in lots of our discussions, in that it's all well and good to have these moral philosophies about what's right but how you put those into action can trip up."

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