25 year anniversary conference highlights growing need for working in the public interest to protect democratic rights

The Public Interest Advocacy Centre celebrates 25 years this week in Sydney with a two-day conference entitled ‘Working for a fair, just and democratic society in the 21st century’.

The conference will showcase some of the major social justice issues that PIAC has identified as being matters in the public interest including access to justice, human rights, health, Indigenous justice and consumer protection.

PIAC’s Chief Executive Officer Robin Banks said, “PIAC was the first public interest legal and policy centre in Australia. While there have been significant gains in areas such as human rights and other public interest issues in that time liberal democratic principles are facing many challenges.”

“PIAC’s job is to lead the way on how public interest advocates respond to emerging issues such as climate change, globalisation, terrorism and the internet revolution while working towards protecting and enhancing principles that ensure citizens can participate in a fair, just and democratic society,” Ms Banks said.

The opening address at the Conference will be given by Professor Larissa Behrendt, Director, Jumbunna Indigenous House of Learning, University of Technology who will talk about the importance of civil society participation in Australian democracy.

A panel discussion will follow which will explore the public interest issues that Australia is likely to face in 2020. This will be lead by Fran Kelly, host of ABC Radio National Breakfast and include futurist, Professor Richard A Slaughter who is director of Foresight International.

Other sessions over the two days will focus on what has worked in public interest campaigns involving Indigenous, environmental, human rights and consumer issues and how that knowledge can be applied to future campaigns. The use of new technologies in the public interest will also be explored.

Other speakers include Jeff Angel (Total Environment Centre), the Hon Elizabeth Evatt AC (former Chief Judge, Family Court of Australia), Graeme Innes AM (Human Rights Commissioner and Commissioner responsible for Disability Discrimination), Brett Solomon (GetUp!) and Professor George Williams (Director, Gilbert + Tobin Centre of Public Law, University of New South Wales).

PIAC 25th Anniversary Conference

‘Working for a fair, just and democratic society in the 21st century’

Date: 18 & 19 October 2007, 9:00 to 5:00pm
Venue: Wesley Conference Centre, Pitt Street Sydney

For program details go to www.piacconference.com

To organise interviews or any other media enquiries contact:

MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,

Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169

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