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"Lauded and vilified": Triggs to feature in Adelaide Festival of Ideas


Former president of the Australian Human Rights Commission Gillian Triggs will discuss her “public shaming” during her term, as part of a big line-up of local, national and international speakers at next month’s Adelaide Festival of Ideas.

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The program, to be released later today, will also feature Dr Megan Clark, the inaugural head of the Australian Space Agency which launches on July 1.

Just one of a range of speakers who will talk about the hot topic of space, Clark will discuss Australia’s strategic priorities in space, as well as outline the role of the agency – which South Australia is hoping to host.

The festival, to be held in Adelaide’s West End from 12-15 July, will include 131 mostly free sessions involving scientists, academics, historians, artists, writers, theologians, educationalists and others.

Triggs will join South Australia’s Equal Opportunity Commissioner Niki Vincent to deliver the Dame Roma Mitchell Oration on the topic: “Lauded and vilified: the highs and lows of leadership in human rights”.

Her term as president of the Human Rights Commission from 2012 to 2017 attracted controversy from the political right and conservative media, who were angered, primarily, by her decision to launch an inquiry into children in immigration detention after the election of the Coalition Government. She was then pursued by the Murdoch press over her approach to several complaints made under the Racial Discrimination Act.

Her oration, on Saturday, July 14 (which appears to be named after this profile piece published by Fairfax), will discuss the “highs and lows” of her term and “the gendered nature of public shaming from this time in her leadership career”.

Crowds in Bonython Hall at the 2016 festival.

The festival, once fully government-funded, is now run by volunteers as a not-for-profit organisation with support from the three universities and other local bodies, including several government agencies. The last festival was held in 2016, but the organisers hope to make it an annual event.

Festival founder and chairman Greg Mackie said the program “epitomises the spirit of collaboration and partnership that is so great about South Australia”.

Other highlights include:

The full program will be uploaded here this evening (Thursday).

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