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What’s That Sound? Activism Today


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American marriage equality campaigner Jim Obergefell calls himself ‘an accidental activist’, but his name will appear in the history books for many years to come. He was the plaintiff in last year’s landmark Obergefell v Hodge Supreme Court decision, which legalised same-sex marriage across the United States.

During his visit to Melbourne, Obergefell will join four revered local activists – Elaine Pearson, Gary Foley, Amelia Telford and Tess Lawley – to discuss the prospect of political change in the 21st century.

What can we learn from the mistakes and achievements of other political movements across the globe? What does social media bring in terms of myths, risks and opportunities for activists? How do different generations approach political change, and which approaches are most effective? Our speakers will answer these questions, and many more, on the theme of changing the world in 2016.


Jim Obergefell

Jim Obergefell is a civil rights activist who embraced his newfound role after the U.S. Supreme Court made marriage equality the law of the land on June 26, 2015. A former Cincinnati realtor, he has worked with organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign and Equality, Ohio, and has been hon... Read more

Elaine Pearson

Elaine Pearson is the Australia Director at Human Rights Watch. Based in Sydney, she works to influence Australian foreign and domestic policies in order to give them a human rights dimension. Pearson regularly briefs journalists, politicians and government officials, appears on television... Read more

Tess Lawley

Tess Lawley is a passionate and vocal advocate for sharing the stories and opinions of marginalised voices in our community. Tess is the General Manager of youth community media organisation SYN, a volunteer presenter on Melbourne’s Triple R and sits on the Community Broadcasting Associat... Read more

Gary Foley

Gary Foley is an Australian Aboriginal Gumbainggir activist, academic, writer and actor. He is best known for his role in establishing the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972 and for establishing an Aboriginal Legal Service in Redfern in the 1970s. He is currently a Professor of History... Read more

Amelia Telford

Amelia Telford, a young Aboriginal and South Sea Islander woman from Bundjalung country, is the National Director for the Seed Indigenous Youth Climate Network. Alongside the Australian Youth Climate Coalition, Amelia supports Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people building a m... Read more


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