Melbourne, Australia
7-9 April, 2017

The Council of Australian Humanist Societies, together with the Humanist Society of Victoria present the Australian Humanist Convention 2017. The 52nd annual convention promises to be educational, motivational and fun for all delegates. Humanists from around Australia will gather to share their insights and listen to world renowned speakers including A.C. Grayling and Peter Singer.


Ibis Melbourne Hotel and Apartments

15-21 Therry Street, Melbourne Victoria


Ibis Melbourne is a short walk to the Queen Victoria Market, Carlton Gardens and the Melbourne Museum

Confirmed Speakers

Professor A.C Grayling

A. C. Grayling

Humanism, the individual and society

A. C. Grayling is Master of the New College of the Humanities, UK. He has written and edited numerous works of philosophy and is the author of biographies of Descartes and William Hazlitt. He believes that philosophy should take an active, useful role in society. He has written and edited over 30 books on philosophy and other subjects; among his most recent are The Age of Genius, The Challenge of Things, The Good Book, Ideas That Matter, Liberty in the Age of Terror and To Set Prometheus Free.

In September 2016, Grayling spoke to an audience of 80 Humanists in Sydney and returns to speak to Australian Humanists in April 2017 in Melbourne.

Professor Graying will also be conducting an interactive workshop during the convention

Photo by
Denise Applewhite

Peter Singer

Public Ethics in the Trump Era

In 2004, Peter Singer was named Australian Humanist of the Year in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the field of ethics. With uncompromising commitment to clear thinking and to secular democratic principles, he has developed reasoned, practical approaches to contemporary human problems.

Peter is a controversial figure for the positions that he holds on abortion, animal liberation and infanticide. Positions that stem from his embrace of utilitarianism, an ethical philosophy that holds that the best actions are those that maximise happiness and reduce suffering.

Any presentation by Peter Singer is guaranteed to leave you questioning your views and beliefs about the world.

Professor Singer will be appearing on Friday April 7 only

Clive Hamilton

Clive Hamilton

Humanism and the Anthropocene

Clive Hamilton is an Australian author and public intellectual. Since 2008 he has been Professor of Public Ethics at Charles Sturt University in Canberra. Previously, for 14 years, he was Executive Director of The Australia Institute, a progressive think tank he founded. In 2012 he was appointed by the Federal Government to the Climate Change Authority. His books include Growth Fetish, Requiem for a Species: Why we resist the truth about climate change, What Do We Want? The story of protest in Australia and, mostly recently, Defiant Earth: The fate of humans in the Anthropocene.

Clive hamilton will be appearing on Friday April 7 only

Dr Tim Soutphommasane

Tim Soutphommasane

Dr Soutphommasane has been Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner since August 2013. Previously, Tim was a political philosopher at the University of Sydney and Monash University. His thinking on multiculturalism, national identity and patriotism has been influential in shaping debates in Australia and Britain.

Dr Soutphommasane is the author of four books, I’m Not Racist But (2015), The Virtuous Citizen (2012), Don't Go Back To Where You Came From (2012), and Reclaiming Patriotism (2009). He has been an opinion columnist with The Age and The Weekend Australian newspapers, and in 2013 presented the documentary series “Mongrel Nation” on ABC Radio National.

Lyn Allison

Lyn Allison

In 2008, Lyn Allison was awarded Australian Humanist of the Year in recognition of her commitment as a vigorous and effective campaigner on public education, the environment, uranium mining and women’s issues. As a senator for Victoria from 1996-2008, Lyn initiated significant legislative reforms. Together with her respect for the democratic process and her constant emphasis on the secular character of our society showed her to be an exemplary individual and a true Humanist

Dr Meredith Doig

Meredith Doig

Interbelief presentations in schools

Beginning as a mathematics teacher in government secondary schools, Meredith moved into the private sector as a corporate executive in manufacturing, mining and banking. For the last 15 years she’s been a professional company director on commercial, government and education boards.

One of Australia’s first Equal Opportunity officers, she later co-authored the Women’s Electoral Lobby’s policy paper on Affirmative Action. She has been a facilitator for the Australian Institute of Company Directors and for 10 years was a moderator with the Cranlana Programme on Ethics and the Good Society.

Currently president of the Rationalist Society of Australia, she was a Senate candidate for the Sex Party in the 2016 federal election. It was a natural progression in her activism around rational and evidence-based policy in governments

Monica Bini

Monica Bini

World-views in the school curriculum

Monica Bini has been Curriculum Manager (Humanities) at the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority since 2006. In this capacity during 2016 she led the development of curriculum concerning learning about religions and non-religious worldviews in the Victorian Curriculum and is currently managing development of sample programs to support its implementation. Monica taught studies in areas of humanities and commerce in secondary schools for over a decade prior to joining the VCAA.

James Fodor

James Fodor

James Fodor is a graduate student in physics at the University of Melbourne, and a research assistant in structural biology at Monash University. With a keen interest in philosophy and critical thinking, he writes for the Rationalist magazine on various subjects in religion and epistemology. As president of the University of Melbourne Secular Society, he has engaged in numerous discussions and public debates concerning religion and rationality. He also has a keen interest in effective altruism, and aspires to commence a PhD in computational neuroscience in the near future.

Lyndon Storey

Lyndon Storey

Humanist community workers: a project for Australian Humanism

Lyndon Storey, is Humanist Chaplain at Canberra Hospital and was the inaugural Convenor of the ACT Humanist Society.

Many social movements offer the option of a life focussed on the movement’s values. Religion has priests and monks, Trade Unionism the “union organiser”, Marxism the “cadre”, Confucianism the “junzi”, and so on.

This talk advocates developing a recognisable Humanist equivalent; provisionally called “Humanist community worker”; someone inspired by humanism and trained and ready to engage in a range of educational and community-building roles such as chaplaincy and ethics education. Encouraging and training people to become humanist community workers will provide benefits to society and open a pathway to attract and engage idealistic humanists.

Douglas McCarty

Douglas McCarty

The teaching of ethics

"In interesting times such as these, it is well to remember that big social decisions are the outcome of the decisions of individuals, who are guided by their own morality and ethics, rationality and empathy. At least such is the hope, as I understand it, of Humanists. So the development, and teaching, of moral values and ethical decision making incorporating empathy and rationality, should be a major concern of Humanists.

"What might our moral guidelines be, and how should we approach ethical decision making? Can empathy be learnt? Can this be simple enough for children, and sophisticated enough to build a decent, diverse and complex society?" A model is proposed.

Tanya Watkins

Tanya Watkins

Humanism in modern Australia

This will be an informal interactive forum with the audience encouraged to participate and contribute ideas, ask questions and be involved in the decision making process for how we can make humanism relevant in today’s society.

Today in Australia, there are many specialised organisations, such as marriage equality and voluntary euthanasia groups, gaining large memberships and media coverage. We should discuss the reasons why our cause, which also stands for many of these humanistic ideals, is not attracting new membership in the numbers that reflect the public’s interest in humanistic ideals.


The program listed here is a guide only and may be subject to change at late notice. All efforts will be made to inform attendees of any substantial program changes.

Friday 7 April

Registration opens at 6pm

Public Ethics in the Trump Era
Peter Singer

Humanism & the Anthropocene
Clive Hamilton
Katerina Gaita

Book signings

Saturday 8 April

Registration opens at 9am

Humanism, the individual & society
A. C. Grayling

Refreshments 10:45am

Victoria Room

Humanism in Victorian Schools
Joanne Roberts - Humanist ethics in primary schools
Monica Bini - World-views in the school curriculum
Meredith Doig - Inter-belief presentations in schools

Elizabeth Room

Advocacy and Ethics
Ian Storey
Matt Awad
Ali Sayed
Alice Carr

Lunch 12:30pm

Victoria Room

Workshop - Xenophobia & nationalisms
A.C. Grayling
Dr Tim Soutphommasane

Elizabeth Room

Workshop - Engaging kids in ethical inquiry
Philip Cam

Refreshments and book signings 2:45pm

Victoria Room

Humanism in action
Geoffrey Ballard
Lyndon Storey
Douglas McCarty

Elizabeth Room

Genital Autonomy, Humanism & Human Rights
Meredith Doig
Jonathan Meddings
Travis Wisdom

Australian Humanist of the Year Gala Dinner 7pm

Sunday 9 April

Registration opens at 9am

Victoria Room

PathWays interbelief demonstration
David Mould

Forum: How to make Humanism relevant today
Tanya Watkins

Elizabeth Room

The future of humanity matters
Adam Ford
A. C. Grayling
Meredith Doig

Refreshments 10:45am

Victoria Room

A naturalistic worldview
James Fodor

Australian Humanist of the Year 2017
Dr Rodney Syme - Time to die

Immigration detention: Australia's response to a humanitarian problem
('Boundless plains to share' by invitation only)

Pauline Brown

Breaking the stalemate in refugee policy
Kevin Bain

Close and book signings 12:45pm

Australian Humanist of the Year 2017 Gala Dinner

Each year, the Council of Australian Humanist Societies awards the Australian Humanist of the Year to a person who has made an outstanding contribution to public life, consistent with Humanist principles and values.

The award is made at the annual gala dinner.

Dress code

It's a gala dinner, so it's your chance to dress up a little or a lot and enjoy an evening of celebration with Humanists from around Australia

What's included in my dinner ticket price?

A three course dinner with two complimentary drinks upon arrival


Ibis Melbourne Hotel and Apartments
15-21 Therry Street, Melbourne

Ibis Melbourne Hotel and Apartments (Therry Street, Melbourne) are pleased to offer Australian Humanist Convention 2017 delegates 10% off the best available unrestricted rate at the time of your booking!

To take advantage of this offer you will need the following details:

Company ID
(client Code)
Access Code CO376AU832
The company ID and access code must be entered in capital letters

How to book

Online via:

On your mobile via the AccorHotels app

By phone: (03) 9666 0000

Annual General Meeting

The Council of Australian Humanists Societies holds it's annual general meeting before the opening of the Australian Humanist Convention each year. It is a chance to set major policy and elect a new committee and is open to all members of its affiliated organisations to attend. However,only each state society's appointed delegate(s) are permitted to vote.

If you would like to attend as an observer please RSVP by email to

Council of Australian Humanist Societies inc.
Annual General Meeting

Friday 7 April
1:30pm - 4pm
Elizabeth Room


When is someone speaking at the convention?

As different speakers are confirmed and the convention schedule takes shape, those details will be made available here on the website at the end of their biographies.

What's included in my ticket?

All Friday tickets include the welcome cocktail reception with canapes and a complimentary drink on arrival before sitting down to listen to Peter Singer and Clive Hamilton.

All Saturday tickets include morning and afternoon tea as well as lunch and tea and coffee throughout the day

All Sunday tickets include morning tea as well as tea and coffee during the convention until the close at approximately 12:30pm followed by lunch in the restaurant

Is your question not answered here yet?

or ring: 0403 835 058

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