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Local voices at the Festival of Open Minds – this Friday & Saturday

Ian Campbell 9 September 2019
Louise Brand, outside Bega Local Court. Photo: Alasdair McDonald & Ian Campbell.

Louise Brand, part of our Panel of Oomph. Photo: Alasdair McDonald & Ian Campbell.

While the Festival of Open Minds looks to bring some of the nation’s big thinkers to our regional community, there is always a place for local voices to take centre stage and add their own weight.

After lunch, this Saturday (September 14), our ‘Panel of Oopmh’ will convene, addressing a range of issues and experiences.

These are people from the hills and beaches of the Bega Valley and Eurobodalla, locals who have been spurred into action by a need they see in their community and in themselves.

The Festival of Open Minds, Panel of Oomph:

Louise Brand –  Louise’s husband David was fatally injured in a road rage incident while he was riding his bike in June 2018. Louise is vocal about our need to become more patient and tolerant to all who use our roads.

Erica Dibden – Erica is passionate about food provenance, sustainability and nutrition. Along with her husband Nic, she manages a large family, a herd of Jersey cows, and the burgeoning Tilba Real Dairy.

Hannah Doole – “Civil disobedience is where things change,” says 19-year-old Hannah. Since finishing school in Bega, Hannah has been on the frontline of climate action in Queensland.

Warren Foster Jr – Young Dirringanj performer and creator Warren is a member of the Gulaga Dance Group, runs the Cypher Friday Hip Hop event at the Grand Hotel in Bega, and is a mentor for music development organisation, Grow the Music.

Darren Jones – an ex-police officer, Darren is Event Director for the upcoming Band Together Music Festival, which brings the Sapphire Coast and visitors together to support disaster relief in the Bega Valley.

Kate Toyer – Kate said she wanted to be two things when she grew up, a veterinarian, and a girl. As a veterinarian, married with children, in 2011 she told her wife she wasn’t a ‘normal’ guy. In 2015, Kate started her gender transformation journey.

Lend your weight and voice to the discussion, tickets for the Festival of Open Minds this Friday night and all day Saturday (September 13 & 14) are on sale now. Rush to the Festival website for more and to claim your place.

Other locals taking to the stage with their story and talent during the program are; Sassi Nuyum, AKA Meaghan Holt, rising Aboriginal writer, performer; Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall, comedian, joke writer, grew up in Tathra; Corrine Gibbons, songstress and choir director; and Damon Davis, long time singer-songwriter and the original man of oopmh;


The theme for Open Minds in 2019 is ‘People With Oomph’ inspired by Bega Valley song man Damon Davis and his song of the same name.

“People with oomph – they’re not lyin down. People with oomph – spread the good life. People with oomph – keep their own style. People with oomph – walk mile after mile,” Damon sings.

The 2019 Festival of Open Minds line up includes:

  • Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, World Vision;
  • Nas Campanella, blind Triple J newsreader;
  • Pastor Christie Buckingham, spiritual counselor to executed Bali 9 drug smuggler Myuran Sukumaran;
  • Aly Khalifa, entrepreneur focused on harvesting plastic waste from our oceans;
  • Emma Booth, para-equestrian competitor, represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympics;
  • Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall, comedian, joke writer, grew up in Tathra;
  • Sassi Nuyum, AKA Meaghan Holt, rising Aboriginal writer, performer;
  • Corrine Gibbons, songstress and choir director;
  • Jonathan Kenna, Australia’s Ambassador to Sweden;
  • Captain Phil Holliday, Sydney, Port Kembla and Eden Harbour Master;
  • Damon Davis, long time singer-songwriter and the original man of oopmh;
  • A local panel of leaders including Erica Dibden – Tilba Milk, Louise Brand – road safety campaigner, Kate Toyer – Eurobodalla vet and transgender advocate,  Warren Foster Jr – Aboriginal artist and leader, Darren Jones – Band Together, and Hannah Doole – climate change activist.

The night before this day of discussion, we launch the festival with a FREE community celebration – Parklight in the heart of Bega. Littleton Gardens will light up with magical occurrences and happenings, a celebration of our community with a focus on the contribution and talent of youth and Indigenous culture.

Hannah Doole is arrested in Brisbane on Tuesday. Photo: Supplied.

Hannah Doole, part of our Panel of Oomph  Photo: Supplied.

Adult tickets for Saturday’s program are on sale now, including lunch option, people 12 to 19 years get in FREE, but you do need to reserve your place. Students there on the day will also be in the running to win $500 to put towards a science education experience of their choice thanks to The Sapphire Coast Regional Science Hub and Inspiring Australia.

Rush to Eventbrite now to claim your place at the Festival of Open Minds.

Thank you to our Festival partners – 
Erica Dibden, Tilba Real Dairy. Photo: Supplied.

Erica Dibden, part of our Panel of Oomph. Photo: Supplied

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