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Past talks

Catherine McGreggor
RightsTalk: My Gender Journey
Catherine McGregor, hosted by Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson
Wednesday 19 November 2014

Watch live through YouTube


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Group Captain Catherine McGregor is currently serving as the speechwriter and strategic adviser to the Chief of the Air Force. She entered the Royal Military College Duntroon in 1974 and graduated to the Royal Australian Infantry.

Over a career in the Australian Regular Army spanning 40 years, she held a wide variety of regimental and staff appointments. She deployed on operations on three occasions including as the Commanding Officer of the Australian Army Training Team in Timor Leste. She is a Tetum linguist. In 2008, she was a Visiting Fellow to The Leverhulme Changing Character of War Programme at All Souls Oxford University in 2008 and holds a Master of Arts in War Studies from UNSW.

She was awarded the Order of Australia on 26 January 2012 for her exceptional service to The Australian Army. She served continuously as speechwriter to every Chief of the Army since 2000. She has held various appointments in Strategic Policy Branch at Army Headquarters. She transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force Reserve in June of this year on promotion to Group Captain

She is a published author and has written on politics and cricket for The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian Financial Review, The Age She is the Prime Minister’s delegate to the National Selection Panel for selection of The Prime Minister’s XI and is also the Head of Australian Services Women’s cricket. She is still active as a player and coach and will be part of the ABC Grandstand team for the forthcoming summer.

She was recently named as one of Australia’s 50 most powerful women by the Australian Women’s Weekly.

In her earlier life, Cate was well-known as a political commentator whose name was Malcolm. She commenced living as a woman on July 30, 2012 and her story was documented on Australian Story in February 2014. She is now the highest-ranking trans-woman military official in the world.

Tim Soutphommasane
RightsTalk: Casual Racism - what is it and what can we do about it?
Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane
Thursday 16 October 2014


The Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane invites you to a panel discussion about casual racism: what is it and what can we do about it? We all know that racism can take an ugly form. But what about those situations on low-level prejudice and discrimination? Does it matter if someone doesn’t intend to cause offence or hurt? And what effect may casual racism have on community relations at the moment? Join our panellists:

  • Mr Hakan Harman, Chief Executive Officer at Multicultural NSW
  • Ms Mariam Veiszadeh, lawyer, community activist and founder of the Islamophobia Register
  • His Excellency Mr Noel White, Ambassador of Ireland


Hakan Harman - Chief Executive Officer

Hakan HarmanHakan is an experienced Senior Executive in both the Public and Private Sectors. His qualifications include a Bachelor Commerce and Master of Public Administration and he is a Fellow of CPA Australia. His areas of expertise include change management, corporate governance, stakeholder and strategic management and organisational leadership.

He has worked at CBA, Burns Philp, Unilever as well as a number of smaller private organisations including as a Forensic Accountant prior to joining the Public Sector in 2002.

He commenced his career in the NSW Public Sector at the Community Relations Commission For a multicultural NSW (Multicultural NSW) as Director Operations CFO, then worked at the State Library of NSW - which is responsible for the stewardship of priceless collections that record the exploration and settlement of Oceania and Australia - as its Chief Operating Officer.

In January of 2014 he rejoined Multicultural NSW as its Chief Executive Officer and has since led a substantial review of operations and development of a new Vision for Cultural Diversity in NSW.

Hakan is married has one son currently at University.

He loves Football (Soccer) and is passionate about social justice and community harmony and says that he does not consider his work as a job.

Noel White - Ireland’s Ambassador to Australia

Noel WhiteHe is a career diplomat.  Immediately prior to taking up his post in Australia in January 2012, Mr White was the Director of Press and Information at Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.  He has also served as a Director in Irish Aid, Ireland’s development aid programme.

Previously he has been posted to Brussels where he served for some time in Ireland’s Permanent Representation to the European Union working in a range of policy areas. 

He has also worked as a senior administrator at the General Secretariat of the Council of Ministers of the European Union.   

He has served in Luxembourg, and in Strasbourg where he represented Ireland at the Council of Europe. 

In addition to his posting here in Australia, Mr White is accredited to New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Fiji.

He is interested in current affairs, and in sports generally.  He is a committed Brumbies’ fan. 

Mr White is married to Nessa Delaney.  They have three children (boys).

Mariam Veiszadeh - lawyer and community rights advocate, an ambassador for Welcome to Australia and the founder of the #WISH Women In Solidarity with Hijabis social media campaign and the Islamophobia Register Australia

Mariam VeiszadehMariam Veiszadeh has established herself as one of most energetic and resourceful young leaders of the Australian Muslim community. Her advocacy has attracted the support of senior politicians, journalists, decision makers and other ordinary Australian who have become strong supporters of the rights of Muslims living in Australia.

Mariam has started numerous campaigns, community initiatives, authored articles, provided media coverage and coordinated community initiatives, all while being a full-time corporate lawyer, mother to an 11-month old and wife. She has worked tirelessly towards advocating for the Muslim community while also bringing the communities different congregations closer together. Mariam has also mentored young Muslims who have shown interest in community work by lending them advice and encouraging them to take a more active role in community initiatives.

Bryan Samuels
RightsTalk: President Barack Obama’s former Advisor on Children
Bryan Samuels, Executive Director, Chapin Hall, University of Chicago: Former Commissioner, US Administration on Children, Youth and Families
Friday 19 September 2014

A copy of his presentation can be downloaded here.


Redefining success for vulnerable children through public systems

Vulnerable children and families are often at the frontline of government interventions. How can we ensure these interventions achieve what they set out to and what levers can be used by decision makers in government and communities to achieve better outcomes?

Bryan Samuels, was until recently the Obama Administration’s highest ranking federal child-welfare policy maker and shares his insights into leading child welfare reform in the USA.

Biography Bryan Samuels

Bryan Samuels is the Executive Director of Chapin Hall, one of the nation’s leading research and policy centers focused on improving the well-being of children and youth, families, and their communities.  Before joining Chapin Hall, Samuels was appointed by President Barack Obama as Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF), making him from 2010-2013 the highest-ranking federal child welfare policymaker in the country.  As ACYF Commissioner, he emphasized the importance of child well-being and the use of data-driven approaches to improve the welfare of vulnerable children and youth.  Samuels has over twenty years of experience in child welfare, including having served as the Chief of Staff of Chicago Public Schools under Arne Duncan and as Director of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.  He was also a lecturer at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration from 1997 to 2003. He has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Notre Dame and a master’s from the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.

Tim Wilson
RightsTalk: Human Rights at Home and Abroad
Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson with Andrew Penfold AM
Wednesday 27 August 2014


Freedom of expression is a human right which is fundamental to many other human rights. Throughout history, removing or restricting it has often been a fatal first step towards the deprivation of other rights and in some cases, tragic human rights atrocities. The inaugural NSW Human Rights Ambassador, Andrew Penfold AM will examine past and present examples in his discussion of ways we can promote human rights, both at home and overseas.

Andrew Penfold AM

Andrew PenfoldAndrew Penfold AM is the current NSW Human Rights Ambassador, CEO of th Australian Indigenous Education Foundation (AIEF) and a member of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council.

After 20 years as a finance lawyer and investment banker, Andrew left the business world in 2004 and spent five years volunteering full time for a range of non-profit organisations, before establishing AIEF in 2007.

Andrew participated in the Indigenous Australia stream of the Australia 2020 Summit in Canberra in April 2008 and received a Leadership Award from the Prime Minister at the Australian Davos Connection in 2008.

Andrew was a finalists for Australian of the Year in 2010 and was nominated by The Australian for its Australian of the Year award in 2012 and 2014. In 2013 Andrew receieved the inaugral NSW Human Rights Award, becoming NSW Human Rights Ambassador; an Order of Merit from the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the highest award issued by the organisation; as well as the 2013 Community Alumni Award and the 2013 Chancellor’s Award for Excellence from the University of Technology, Sydney. In 2013, Andrew was named a member of the Prime Minister’s Advisory Council and in 2014 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia “for significant service to the Indigenous community, particularly through the provision of educational programs for students.

Date: Wednesday 27 August 2014
Time: 5:30pm - 6:30pm

Professor Henry Brodaty AO
RightsTalk: Human Rights and Ageing: growing old in Australia
Professor Henry Brodaty AO
Tuesday 19 August 2014


A civil society can be judged on how it treats its elderly and safeguards their rights. How is Australia meeting the challenges of the doubling of the percentage of our population aged 65 years or more, and quadrupling of those aged 80 years or more, all within one generation? This demographic shift occurs against the background of intergenerational tensions, pressures on our economy, ethical debates about independence versus autonomy and individual versus societal benefit, and changing patterns of disease.

Older people have the same rights as all Australians; importantly the right to independence, to equal access to health care, to equal access to legal and other services such as transport, to opportunities for personal development, to protection from exploitation and abuse, to appropriate care if disabled or incapacitated and to be treated with dignity. More controversial are issues of rationing of limited health resources and the right to determine when an older, cognitively competent, psychiatrically well person wishes to end his or her life.

The presentation will examine human rights for older people and recommend strategies for tackling current examples of where these are lacking.


Henry Brodaty is a

  • Scientia Professor of Ageing and Mental Health, Director of the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre and Co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing at the University of New South Wales; and
  • Psychogeriatrician and Head of the Memory Disorders Clinic in the Aged Care Psychiatry Service at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney.

Professor Brodaty is President of the International Psychogeriatric Association and was previously chairman of Alzheimer’s Disease International, and president of Alzheimer’s Australia and Alzheimer’s Australia (NSW).

He is a member of several key State and National Committees in Australia concerned with dementia and mental health in older people. Professor Brodaty has published extensively and received many national and international awards for research and community work.

Date: Tuesday, 19 August 2014
Time: 12:30pm - 1:30pm

Filming:  All RightsTalks session are recorded and each session will be available on the Commission website. Please note that by attending the event, you are releasing and consenting to the use of those photos and video in various forms of media, on the web and in print by the Commission.