Taking control of our energy future

Scroll down to see the video stream of this event.

Securing reliable energy at affordable prices is a significant challenge for Hunter households and businesses.  The Newcastle Institute’s August Forum will present options for how we can take control of our energy usage and costs now, and position ourselves for future energy challenges.

Discussing our energy future will be two experts in energy: Dr Stephen White and Mr Gavin Gilchrist. Stephen leads CSIRO’s energy efficiency research and is a Program Leader in the Low Carbon Living CRC. He is renowned for research into air-conditioning and building thermal design, and is responsible for the NatHERS benchmark software tool, for rating residential home energy efficiency. Gavin is a sustainability consultant with 20 years’ experience in energy efficiency focusing on identifying and delivering energy efficiency and renewable projects. For 14 years Gavin was Director and founder of energy efficiency company, Big Switch Projects, which provided advice to business, governments and households on how to save energy through improved lighting, hot water systems, air conditioning and building design.

Making decisions about securing energy which is reliable, affordable and environmentally sustainable is complex for households and businesses. For many years energy policy has been confused and politicised, market and pricing mechanisms are constantly changing and lack transparency, and technology is advancing. As populations rise and extreme weather events are more frequent as the climate warms, demand for energy is increasing. In this complex environment, households and business energy bills have increased significantly, creating an unaffordable burden for many.

Despite this complexity there are steps households and businesses can take to ensure reliable and affordable energy. Our experts will discuss current policy, market and pricing mechanisms for ensuring secure, affordable and sustainable energy for households and business. They will also present options as to how households and businesses can position themselves for future energy needs.

Open to the Public – All welcome

What?   Public Forum – Taking control of our energy future

When?  6.00 – 7.30pm, Wednesday 8thAugust

Where?Souths Leagues Club, Merewether

Who?     Open to the general public. Members – entry is free; Non-members – Admission $10

Use the button at right to register

Schools of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Lessons in Education for Newcastle and the Hunter Valley

Since the turn of this century there has been lots of discussion about just how we should look at equipping children and young adults with the skills, knowledge and value framework for a rapidly changing world in which concepts like the nature of work itself and traditional pathways to careers and vocations are being short-circuited by a number of influences. Indeed, with almost twenty years of the 21st Century already gone, there is a range of opinion about why we have schools and the sorts of places they should be.

Come along to Souths on 11 July to hear from a panel of great practitioners in education as we further the discussion around schools and education.
Our panel of presenters will provide some keen insights into current educational thinking.

The panel includes:
Professor John Fischetti – Professor of Education, University of Newcastle
Tracey Breese – Principal, Kurri Kurri high School
Jo Grey – Principal, Hunter School of the Performing Arts
Paul Tracey – Former Principal, Wallsend Campus, Callaghan College

Acting as our facilitator on the night will be Education student Kiera Campbell.

Live stream of the event :-

Everybody is welcome at our events.  Please use the links at the right to register for the event or find out more about the Newcastle Institute.

There are lots of ideas following relating to this topic.  If you’d like to submit a question for the event then you can do so up until the evening before the event.  Just click the link below:

If you’d like to review some of the ideas that have been floating around since the turn of the century, you may find some of the videos below interesting.  And, to see recent thinking about education for a changing world, you may be interested in the Future Frontiers Analytical Report.

And some other thinking from 5 years ago: Designing your vision for a digital school.

Designing your vision for a digital school.

and – ‘Whaddaya talking about?


Urban Planning in Newcastle and the Lower Hunter

13 June 2018

Are we creating sustainable and resilient communities?

What are we doing right?

What are we doing wrong?

What do we need to do better?

Cathy Smith – Inaugural Turnbull Foundation Women in Built Environment Scholar(UNSW), Richard Rogers fellow Harvard University Graduate School of Design (Fall 2018)

Scott Anson – Technical Director Planning Cardno NNSW. Fellow, Registered Planner and Hunter Convenor Planning Institute of Australia

Prof Will Rifkin  DirectorHunter Research Foundation Centre, University of Newcastle

Ed Crawford – Property Sales & Marketing Consultant, former Chair, Property Council of Australia, Hunter Chapter

Some questions were sourced from the public via the link below – (now disabled)

Would you like to ask a question of our panel at this event?

Just click here or click the image at the left


See the Facebook livestream of the event embedded below.

You can also see this on our Facebook page and join in the discussion there if you like.  Or, please feel free to use the comment link at the bottom of this post. A collection of readings follows the livestream.



Urban Planning Readings

Developing Urban Design as Public Policy: Best Practice Principles for Design Review and Development Management John Punter

Steering urban growth: governance, policy and finance Lead Authors: Graham Floater and Philipp Rode Contributing Authors: Bruno Friedel, Alexis Robert

Integrating the environment in urban planning and management key principles and approaches for cities in the 21st century David Dodman, Gordon McGranahan and Barry Dalal-Clayton International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)

The Three Domains of Urban Planning for Health and Well-being Jennifer L. Kent and Susan Thompson

Shaping cities for health: complexity and the planning of urban environments in the 21st centuryYvonne Rydin, Ana Bleahu, Michael Davies, Julio D Dávila

Creating Places for People – an urban design protocol for Australian cities

Evidence of the Economic and Social Advantages of Intercultural Cities Approach Meta-analytic assessment By Kseniya Khovanova-Rubicondo and Dino Pinelli

A proposed model for sustainable urban planning development for environmentally friendly communities – Ali AlQahtany , Yacine Rezgui & Haijiang Li

Overview of the Portland Plan

Neighborhood Governance in Portland Oregon: An Analysis of Public Involvement in Urban Planning Nuin-Tara Key

Thriving Cities City Profile of Portland

Science and Practice for Thriving Cities L Bettencourt

Women and Equality – The Way Forward

It has been great to see the interest being taken and registrations for our forum next Wednesday, 9 May.

We’re glad to be able to continue our program for this year with some insight into the issue of ‘Women and Equality’ coming from our panel of remarkable women including:

  • Rosemarie Milsom, Journalist and Director, Newcastle Writers Festival –
  • Emma White, Community & Public Sector Union
  • Gerry Bobsien, Executive Manager Economic Development and Innovation at Muswellbrook Shire Council
  • Fiona Black, AWE/Newcastle Women’s Alliance
  • Belinda Smith, Chief Executive Officer at Rapid Solutions, Director – Got Your Back Sista

Please use the links at the right to Register for this event as we are looking forward to an excellent addition to our aspiration this year at the Newcastle Institute to promote ‘diverse ideas’ and ‘rational discussion’

And, some background, specially curated by our organisers for this event.

Some articles which may be of interest. This selection includes: data about women, some responses – past and present, and the issue of responsibility.

Unleashing the power of gender equality Australian Human Rights Commissioner

Women & the Future of Work research report

2018 Pamela DenoonLecture, ANU,
Kate Jenkins, Sex Discrimination Commissioner

An idea quickly agreed to: Julia Gillard’s next move. Julia Baird

Women & Power: A Manifesto Mary Beard 2017 London 

The male glance: How we fail to take women’s stories seriously The Guardian 7 March 2018

Review: Jessa Crispin 2017 Why I Am Not a Feminist Guardian March 2017


Swimming in a sea of privilege: waking up to male entitlement… 


May at the Institute: Women and Equality

We’re glad to be able to continue our program for this year with some insight into the issue of ‘Women and Equality’ coming from our panel of remarkable women including:

  • Rosemarie Milsom, Journalist and Director, Newcastle Writers Festival –
  • Emma White, Community & Public Sector Union
  • Gerry Bobsien, Executive Manager Economic Development and Innovation at Muswellbrook Shire Council
  • Fiona Black, AWE/Newcastle Women’s Alliance
  • Belinda Smith, Chief Executive Officer at Rapid Solutions, Director – Got Your Back Sista

Please use the links at the right to Register for this event as we are looking forward to an excellent addition to our aspiration this year at the Newcastle Institute to promote ‘diverse ideas’ and ‘rational discussion’

Please share this across your social media networks and with others you know who may be interested.


April event

Many thanks to the 120 or so members and attendees who came along to Souths to hear from Professor Roy Green about some potential futures for the Port of Newcastle.  There has been a number of stories in the press about the issues raised by Roy Green during his presentation at the Newcastle Institute and through the work done prior to this.

Attendees at the event will recall that Roy responded to an audience question, saying that he would make his presentation available. True to his word, this has been done and you can see a copy of Roy’s presentation in pdf format by clicking here.

You might also be interested to have a look at the video shown on the night that looked at the history of containerisation and why this is such an important adjunct to the growth of global trade.  You can see the video below.

There has now been a growing amount of press and questions about the circumstances surrounding the possibility of a container terminal in Newcastle.  The links below will take you to some of the published pieces.











Next month we have another very engaging presentation coming up that shifts the focus to another aspect of transition and equity when we address the subject of Women and Power—Issues & strategies

This event will be coming up on Wed 9 May and we suggest that you ensure that you are subscribed to our main email list to gain updates about this and other events coming up.  Use the links at the right to subscribe, and keep an eye on your inbox for news about this next event.  We’re thrilled that we have assembled a group of women with significant insights to share.

April at the Newcastle Institute

Don’t miss the chance to be part of our next event in our diverse 2018 program!

As reported in The Guardian, on 18th December last year, the new chair of the Port of Newcastle says there’s an urgent need to diversify the regional economy and the port’s business.

While Newcastle is now known as the largest coal exporting port worldwide, Roy Green, the new Chair, believes that “long-term outlook for coal is a threat to the port”

This is just one reason why the Committee of the Newcastle Institute is looking forward to the opportunity for our members and event attendees to engage with Roy Green who, as well as being a recent appointment as the Chair of Newcastle Ports, has a strong history of knowledge and leadership in innovation and entrepreneurship, with his profile available at https://theconversation.com/profiles/roy-green-3866 encapsulating a range of experiences which no doubt see him well placed to provide insight into the future of Newcastle Ports and the region generally.

Ever since the closure of the BHP and the work to remediate that site there have been various suggestions about the use of the site and possibilities for diversification.  There have, for example, been a number of claims made about arrangements which mitigate against the use of the site for container handling. Newcastle residents would also recall the tactics used to heighten a scare campaign about increased container truck traffic through surrounding suburbs just prior to the 2011 State election.

Roy Green has been up front about this option, (the development of a container terminal), quoted in the Guardian piece as saying:

“Among our challenges will be ensuring a level playing field for the development of a viable and competitive container terminal.”

This suggestion, and his willingness to put this front and centre in the public policy domain, means that the opportunity to hear Roy Green speak at the Newcastle Institute and to take part in the Q&A session which will follow should be an engaging and entertaining one.

Summing up the value of Roy Green to the next years of the Newcastle Port, “the chief executive of Newcastle Ports, Geoff Crowe, said Green’s experience made him well placed to manage the transition.

“Professor Green also has a strong understanding of the Hunter region’s competitive advantages, having worked at the University of Newcastle through the 1990s, including close engagement with the BHP Newcastle Steelworks transition and Hunter economic development bodies,”

Everybody is welcome at Newcastle Institute events. We request a $10 donation to assist us in our costs to present our program.

Members of the Newcastle Institute are entitled to free entry and, where possible, we ask that prospective attendees use our online registration process to let us know that you’ll be coming.

If you’d like to know more about the Newcastle Institute, or to become a Member, or Register for this next event, please use the links at the right.

We look forward to seeing you at Souths on 11th April, from 6pm. You can register using the Register button in the box at the right or simply click here to Register

Quotes in this piece have been sourced from The Guardian, at https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/dec/18/newcastle-worlds-biggest-coal-export-port-announces-shift-away-from-coal

Great start to the year

Around 140 people made up the audience to hear Newcastle Institute Patron Ross Gittins open this year’s speaking program at Souths Newcastle on 14 March.

Entry to this event for the first time included an online registration and payment option as well as our traditional donation request at the door.  Our active committee has this year decided that we will make Annual Memberships available for the Newcastle Institute and so far over fifty people have taken up the opportunity to become members.  As well as being entitled to free entry to all events, members also have access to a Members’ online space where additional readings are available and opportunities exist for members to be part of discussions about sessions and planning for the Newcastle Institute.

It’s easy to become a member; just look for the big green ‘Join Now’ button on the right and click to begin the process.

Coming up next month we’re looking forward to hearing from the new head of the Port of Newcastle; Professor Roy Green.  Given some of the recent discussion around the future of the Port of Newcastle and its potential diversification, this should be an excellent event.

You can find out more about Professor Roy Green at https://theconversation.com/profiles/roy-green-3866

If you haven’t done so already, make sure that you have used the ‘Subscribe to our mailing list’ link on the right to ensure that you receive all of our public emails about upcoming events.  We look forward to you being part of our organisation and its mission to promote ‘Diverse ideas’ and ‘Rational Discussion.’

Ross Gittins starts our Autumn program

Rent-seeking, the ‘game of mates’, and the stuff-ups of economic reform

Are governments and their bureaucracies ensuring that Australia’s businesses give their customers a good deal, or are they just helping businesses live an easier, less competitive life at their customers’ expense? And what do politicians and top bureaucrats get out of it?

Don’t miss our first event for 2018 as our Autumn program commences at Souths on Wednesday 14th March.

Ross Gittins, who is also a patron of the Newcastle Institute will be speaking from 6pm and everybody is welcome.

For 2018 we have made a decision to request a contribution of $10 for attendees.  This follows many years of this being only $5 and will assist us to ensure that we can continue to deliver a program of events.

To assist our planning, you can now pre-register for our events so that you simply need to be ‘checked in’ at the door.  To register for this event, please look for the registration link on the right.

For the first time in 2018 we are also offering the opportunity to become a member of the Newcastle Institute.  Just click the ‘Join Now’ button. Once they have received notice that their membership has been approved, members are entitled to free entry at our regular events and can also use the Registration button to let us know that they’ll be coming by choosing the ‘Member’ option to register. You can, of course, still simply come along on the night.

Whichever way you choose to engage with our events, we look forward to you sharing in what looks like being a very interesting program of events in 2018.  Please help us to get the word out regarding our offerings by sharing on social media or forwarding this email to your contacts.  You can also share the event notice on Facebook.

We look forward to seeing you.  For details of the remaining events in our Autumn program, click here.

2018 Program and an opportunity for you

2018 Program

We’re excited to announce the first three months of our 2018 program knowing that there is plenty to interest everybody across all three programs.
We know that you will also enjoy the remaining months to come with plenty more great ideas to share and issues to reflect upon.

Click the program button to see our March, April and May events


So, why not take advantage of an exciting new initiative for the Newcastle Institute and be amongst the inaugural members of the Newcastle Institute. Yes, from the start of this year we’ve decided to offer memberships to the Newcastle Institute, for $50 per person with great benefits including:


  • Free entry to events – Casual attendees at our events would know that for many years we’ve been requesting a $5 donation per person to assist us with our costs in presenting events.  At our December planning meeting, we decided to increase the requested amount to $10. So, becoming a member can make sound economic sense!
  • Access to a developing section of our online site which will enable access to a Members’ area of the site
  • Opportunities to be part of the processes for continuing to grow the Newcastle Institute as a ‘quality forum for good ideas.

Use the link on the right to join the Newcastle Institute