2017 / Barry Irvin AM

‘The strength and wisdom of the collective has been demonstrated over and over again.’

2016 / Hugh Mackay AO

‘It’s about how we live, not where we live.’

2015 / Dr Simon Longstaff AO

‘There is, perhaps, something worse than being forgotten. It is to be rendered ‘invisible’ – unseen by the society in which you live.’

There are those who are ‘invisible’ – either because they make us uncomfortable, or because their vote ‘doesn’t count’, or because they lack the economic presence to be recognised by a system that increasingly judges worth according to economic utility rather than intrinsic value.

2014 / Ms Jenny Coles

‘The true value of a cappuccino is the manner in which it is shared’

The numbers of people throughout the world most negatively impacted by the disparities of resources and wealth continue to increase. We are more challenged than ever to find imaginative and robust ways forward when considering the plight of others. Through the prism of Timor-Leste, we see the positive power of the enduring friendships that exist between our nations’ peoples.

2013 / Mr Bernie Geary OAM

‘Young people: a resource we need’

Building on the discussions from the lead-in event, the oration explores the ways in which each person in the community can support young people. Young people are not simply raised by their community; they also raise their community up. Strong and healthy communities create opportunities for the young and not so young to collaborate and share their unique talents and abilities to support one another.

2012 / Dr Bill Wilson APM OAM and the Honourable Tim Fischer AC

‘Sir Isaac Isaacs: Exploring his 47-year connection to Indigo Shire and lessons today from this national legend’

From Yackandandah to Yarralumla — Australia’s first Australian-born Governor-General was educated in Yackandandah and Beechworth, later representing the region in State and Federal politics before being appointed to the High Court of Australia. He was appointed Governor-General in 1931 where his sense of social justice truly came to the fore.

2011 / Honourable Justice David Harper

‘Sentencing: public perceptions, the reality and their social consequences’

The simplistic approach says the courts should be more punitive in sentencing. But the reality is more complex. The protection of the community requires us to pay attention to sentencing and rehabilitation for the long-term benefit of the community and offenders.

2010 / Ms Jemima Richards

‘Revealing the hidden strengths and talents of community’

As a foundation member of the support group Firefoxes, Jemima Richards had an instrumental role to play in helping Kinglake residents rebuild their lives after Black Saturday bushfires. Her experiences immediately after the fires and later carry valuable lessons for our own community strengthening efforts.

2009 / Reverend Tim Costello AO

‘Community values for a world in need’

Many of Victoria’s community values have been forged in the intensity of fire and concentrated through drought. These values derive from a wellspring of compassion — the richness of seeing others prosper and grow, and celebrating their worth. And these qualities can be part of the solution for the most intractable problems facing the global community, including poverty and climate change.

2008 / Professor Tim Flannery

‘The climate change challenge’

Against the background of growing community acknowledgement of and concern about the effects of rapid climate change on our planet, a discourse on the science of climate change, including the health of the planet’s essential organs, the challenges facing individuals, communities and governments, and how we can better manage the planet’s limited resources for the purpose of sustaining life on Earth.

2007 / Honourable John Thwaites MP

‘Climate change and social justice’

A timely consideration of the water and environmental challenges facing Victoria as a result of climate change and the need to ensure the longterm sustainability of Victorian communities.

2006 / Ms Cathy McGowan AO

‘Beechworth: our common wealth?’

Using Beechworth as a model, an expose of Cathy’s vision for creating an environment in rural Australia for everyone to contribute to their communities in vibrant, caring and personally rewarding ways.

2005 / Professor Henry Brodaty AO

‘Ageing: it’s all in your mind’

An exploration of the challenges facing ageing Australian communities in view of greater life expectancy and an increasing incidence of people living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

2004 / Ms Barbara Holborow OAM

‘Everyone’s children’

A consideration of the need to reform the children’s justice system to further the social justice interests of children in our communities and for everyone in every community to take greater responsibility for each child in the community.

2003 / Honourable Justice John Harber Phillips AC

‘The North Eastern Victoria republic movement — myth or reality?’

A study of the historical evidence of a groundswell of republican sentiment in north eastern Victoria during the Kelly Gang era, and the pivotal role played by the Kelly Gang.