11 September 2019

The Festival of Open Minds, highlighting personal stories and knowledge for change

| Ian Campbell
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Momentum around The Festival of Open Minds is building as people from near and far snap up the early bird discount and get ready to take part in this day of ideas and discussion.

On Saturday, September 1, the Bega Valley Commemorative Civic Centre will buzz with personal stories and the wisdom and knowledge of experts – speakers who will inspire your thinking and ‘open your mind’ to something new.

“Change” is the overarching theme of the program, the Festival looks to provide a stage for people experiencing change, people advocating for change, and people who have led change. Change across a range of interests and experiences.

You will leave with an energized mind, heart, and soul.

During July tickets for The Festival of Open Minds are only $20, from August 1 tickets will be $30, whatever day it is high schoolers are free.

Tickets will be available at the door, but please do us a favour and book now via southcoasttickets.com.au.

Check out the full program for the Festival of Open Minds…

Catherine McGregor and Hugh Mackay

Catherine McGregor and Hugh Mackay

Catherine McGregor AM was a military officer for nearly four decades. She graduated from the Royal Military College Duntroon and served as an Infantry officer overseas. She has held a wide range of strategic policy and operational roles including serving on the personal staffs of four Chiefs of the Army and two Chiefs of the Air Force.

She has also served as a speechwriter and adviser to some of Australia’s most senior political leaders including Bob Carr, Kim Beazley, Tony Abbott, and Barry O’Farrell.

She is an engaging and powerful speaker on cricket, global strategic affairs but comes to Bega to share her poignant story of gender transition.

Catherine McGregor AM appears by arrangement with Claxton Speakers International.

Australia’s most respected and experienced social researcher, Hugh Mackay AO, believes something is wrong with our nation and in the lives of its citizens, and he is coming to Bega to explain what and why, but more importantly how he thinks we can change.

For his new book, ‘Australia Reimagined’, Hugh drew on his 50 years’ experience of listening to Australians and watching some big trends play out.

Hugh offers some compelling proposals for a more compassionate society, on September 1 he will deliver a call to action to everyone who loves Australia enough to want to make it a better place for all.

Hugh Mackay adds real clout to this optimistic but challenging day of ideas, discussion, and community.

Sussan Lay, Gabbie Stroud, Linda Burney.

Sussan Lay, Gabbie Stroud, Linda Burney.

Sussan Ley MP was born in Nigeria to British parents, she spent her early childhood in the United Arab Emirates, before migrating to Australia at the age of 13 with her parents and older brother.

Schooled in the U.K, Queensland and ACT, tertiary study led to a Bachelor of Economics, Master of Taxation Law and a Master of Accounting.

Developing an early fascination with the skies and flying, a younger Sussan obtained a Commercial Pilot’s License which she still holds.

While helping manage the family farm in North East Victoria Sussan took up a position with the Australian Taxation Office at Albury, before seeking Liberal Party pre-selection for the Federal seat of Farrer in 2001, a seat she went on to win.

Returned as the Member for Farrer at five subsequent elections, Susan has been allocated responsibility in a number of portfolio and policy areas during her 16 years in the Federal Parliament.

Linda Burney MP is the first Aboriginal woman to serve in the House of Representatives. She was also the first Aboriginal person to serve in the New South Wales Parliament.

From 2007 to 2011 she served as a Minister in the NSW Labor government in a range of portfolios, including Community Services.

She began her career as a teacher at a public school in western Sydney in 1979.

In 2016 Linda Burney resigned as Deputy Leadership of the NSW Labor Party and from the NSW Parliament after she was preselected as Labor’s candidate for the federal seat of Barton, a seat she went on to win.

She currently serves as the Shadow Minister for Human Services in Bill Shorten’s opposition.

Gabbie Stroud and her powerful and moving memoir ‘Teacher’ has captured Australia’s attention and is part of the current news cycle.

In 2014, Gabbie was a very dedicated teacher with over a decade of experience. Months later, she resigned in frustration and despair.

Her ground-breaking essay ‘Teaching Australia’ in the Feb 2016 Griffith Review outlined her experiences and provoked a huge response from former and current teachers around the world. That essay lifted the lid on a scandal that is yet to properly break – that our education system is unfair to our children and destroying their teachers.

In her powerful memoir ‘Teacher’, Gabbie tells the full story; how she came to teaching, what makes a great teacher, what our kids need from their teachers, and what it was that finally broke her. A brilliant and heart-breaking memoir that cuts to the heart of a vital matter of national importance.

Jo Dobbs, Zachary Sequoia, Dr Leeanda Wilton.

Jo Dobbs, Zachary Sequoia, Dr Leeanda Wilton.

In July this year Louise Brown, the world’s first IVF baby, turns 40 years of age. Her birth marked the beginning of the reproductive revolution. In the four decades since, technological advances and global adoption of IVF has resulted in the birth of more than 8 million babies worldwide.

Dr Leeanda Wilton, is one of Australia’s leading IVF scientists, playing a pivotal role in research and development of reproductive technologies, particularly in the area of genetic testing of human embryos. With more than 30 years’ experience as an embryologist and geneticist, she has witnessed first-hand the astonishing developments in the field and faced the many ethical and social challenges brought about by IVF including surrogacy, geriatric motherhood and selection of embryos for sex and genetic diseases.

Leeanda comes to the Festival of Open Minds with a long history of holidays at Tathra and will discuss how the reproduction revolution has challenged and changed our views on life, fertility, and families.

Zachary Sequoia has worked within the digital technology industry since the mid-1990’s starting in San Francisco.

For the last 20 years, he has worked for some of the world’s most well known digital brands on three different continents.

As well as having previously founded two creative agencies in Canberra and Melbourne, Zachary is also a serial entrepreneur having founded two successful companies. He mentors startups and SMEs, and sits on various advisory boards for local, state, and federal governments around innovation.

He is particularly passionate about regional innovation.

Zachary has been part of the drive behind the just-announced Bega Valley Innovation Hub and will give us a taste of it’s potential.

Vimy Ridge resident and Bega Valley Shire Councilor, Jo Dodds strongly believes climate change is at play in her community, she points to the bushfires of March 18 as evidence.

Her appeal to the Prime Minister in the week after those flames captured the attention of author, environmentalist, and co-founder of the global change agent – 350.org, Bill McKibben.

Mr McKibben invited Jo to be a speaker on his ‘Fossil Free Acceleration Tour’, which took in Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Adelaide, and Newcastle in April and May.

Jo called on leaders to act now to reduce the risks of further climate change. Jo will deliver her 350.org presentation before a home crowd for the first time.

Robbie Bundle, Jo Saccomani, Cash Brown.

Robbie Bundle, Jo Saccomani, Cash Brown.

With over 20 years experience in the cultural sector, Cash Brown comes to the festival having developed audiences through ambitious programs and strategic planning in museums and galleries in New South Wales and regional Victoria.

Committed and passionate about cultural organisations and their impact on Australian society, Cash comes with a regional perspective on the need to value and support collecting institutions.

She will discuss some of the most urgent issues facing the sector, including economic sustainability and climate change and their impacts on public programs, collection development and care and what the general public can do to assist.

For visual artists, Cash will also present a talk on materials and techniques and the implications of those choices on health, environment and how long materials last.

Jo Saccomani is the founder of Two Sheds Workshop in Bega, where the motto is ‘Build yourself.’

Despite growing up with parents who built, renovated and decorated the family home and furniture, it was by chance that Jo became a carpenter.

Now, having been a qualified carpenter and running her own building business for over 30 years, she has spent the last four years teaching, passing on those skills of woodwork and carpentry.

Last year Jo become a Churchill Fellow and traveled to the USA to discover new and innovative ways to extend carpentry and woodwork skills to women and children.

Jo now has her sights set on challenging the status quo and increasing the number of women looking to the building trade as a career option.

Robbie Bundle hales from Yuin and Bidjura Country, he is a singer-songwriter and musician who has been writing and performing music for more than 35 years. He is also a filmmaker, MC, and a musical historian of Songlines.

He has performed with artists such as David Gulpilil, Kutcha Edwards, Dave Arden, Bart Willoughby, Archie Roach and many others.

His latest album is ‘Universal Ark’.

Robbie is one of the featured artists at the upcoming Giiyong Festival at Jigamy between Pambula and Eden, South East NSW’s first festival celebrating traditional and contemporary Aboriginal culture.

Get a sneak peek of Giiyong through Robbie and his songs and stories at the Festival of Open Minds.

And the Robbo Rebels from Narooma High School!

The Robo Rebels have been working towards their vision of a technology hub where current and emerging businesses, schools, education providers and community experts collaborate on projects that create the employment and training opportunities needed to retain young people in our local area.

Teachers and students will be on hand at the Festival of Open Minds to introduce you to their creations including “Aoki”, who was designed and constructed by the Robo Rebels and competed recently in Sydney at the South Pacific Regional Championships.

Change Bites…

Everyday SouEasters will also have the opportunity to present their ideas and share their experience of change through the Change Bites program – highlighting bite-size stories of change.

Change Bites will be mixed through the speaker’s program giving locals three minutes to share their story or make their pitch.

Focused around three themes people from across the region are invited to submit an expression of interest now and claim their 3 minutes on stage.

Change Bites themes:

  • The day my life changed and how I responded;
  • My pitch for change;
  • Change – I just can’t take it anymore!

Submit your expression of interest now via [email protected] outlining your idea in 50 words or less, spaces are limited, the Change Bites program will look to represent a range of ideas and experiences.

Tickets for The Festival of Open Minds are on sale now via southcoasttickets.com.au

Thank you to Bega Valley Shire Council, University of Wollongong – Bega Campus, Tathra Beach House Appartments, Bega Valley Regional Gallery, Candelo Books, and RiotACT for your support.




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What a wonderful event for our area.

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