New website

The Newcastle Institute now has an updated website and URL.  For the new decade we’ve launched a new website with an up to date look and feel.  It is alive and growing at our new web address at

April Event: Australia’s Energy Future

Unfortunately, social distancing and other strategies mean that we are unable to continue with our program in its current form. The Committee is working on alternatives and we expect to publish more information very soon. Why not head on over to our new site; bookmark it and check back often for more information.















Professor Ken Baldwin, Director, ANU Energy Change Institute and Director, ANU Grand Challenge:  Zero-Carbon Energy for the Asia-Pacific at Australian National University, will be our speaker at our April event, coming up at Souths Newcastle on Wednesday 8 April, 2020

Ken will speak on “Australia’s Energy Future”  outlining  Australia’s energy resources and capabilities in the international context. He will examine current energy trends, focusing particularly on the electricity sector and on our future electricity generation mix. The imperatives for our eventual transition to a sustainable energy future in order to address climate change will be examined, and the implications for our future export industries will be discussed.”

Make sure that you are subscribed to our email list to receive more information about this event including registration details.

Ethical failures – Banks, Bushfires and Billionaires

Ethical failures – Banks, Bushfires and Billionaires

There was nothing inevitable about the bushfires that ravaged Australia this last, searing summer. There’s nothing inevitable about a bank charging fees to the dead; nor in the rich and powerful corrupting democracy. It is always a matter of choice. Yet, one thing is inevitable … that ordinary people disproportionately bear the burden of ethical failure. So, what is to be done? Join the Executive Director of The Ethics Centre, Dr Simon Longstaff, as he explores how we might repair the damaged and broken ethical infrastructure on which society ultimately depends for its heath, happiness and prosperity.

Dr Simon Longstaff AO FCPA

Simon Longstaff began his working life on Groote Eylandt in the Northern Territory of Australia. He is proud of his kinship ties to the Anindilyakwa people. After a period studying law in Sydney and teaching in Tasmania, he pursued postgraduate studies as a Member of Magdalene College, Cambridge. In 1991, Simon commenced his work as the first Executive Director of The Ethics Centre. In 2013, he was made an officer of the Order of Australia (AO) for “distinguished service to the community through the promotion of ethical standards in governance and business, to improving corporate responsibility, and to philosophy.” Simon is an Honorary Professor at the Australian National University, a Fellow of CPA Australia, the Royal Society of NSW and the Australian Risk Policy Institute. He serves on a number of Boards and Committees and as Independent Integrity Adviser to the Australian Taxation Office.

The event will commence at 6pm and conclude at 7.30pm. Everybody is welcome and members have complimentary rights to attend.  For other attendees, bookings can be made online or we request a $10 donation at the door to assist us with our ongoing costs of presenting events.

Register online to attend this event

Space in the new era– The Dream and the Reality

In the year of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing, there is much talk about a new era in space exploration. Supported by public and private investment, new missions into space are being planned. Australia’s ‘Astronomer at Large’ with Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science Professor Fred Watson is discussing the opportunities and realities of this new era at the Newcastle Institute’s November Forum.


Fred Watson has had a ‘stellar’ career as an astronomer and researcher, including being Astronomer in Charge at the Australian Astronomical Observatory in Coonabarabran and working closely with Federal and State governments. He holds Professorships at multiple universities. He even has an asteroid named after him.  (He says won’t be his fault if it hits the earth!).

Moon missions are being undertaken by China, India, and other countries, while near space is being visited by private tourists, and becoming militarised. Human missions to Mars are being planned. Fred will discuss all these developments, as well as advances in our understanding of deep space – new planets beyond the solar system and discoveries of other galaxies. But Fred will also bring us back to earth, to explain, why, scientifically, we must accept “There is no planet B”. As a species, the planet we are on is our only home.

As a great communicator about science, Fred’s light-hearted, entertaining style makes the understanding of space accessible to all. He is the author of a number of science books aimed at a general audience, and features regularly on ABC radio.

This is the Newcastle Institute’s final public forum this year.

Professor Fred Watson AM, Australia’s ‘Astronomer at Large’

When? Wednesday November 13th  6.00pm -7.30pm

Where? Souths Leagues Club, Merewether 

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

Media Contact:- Rob Logan 0418 390033 or Ross Kerridge 0401522875

Margaret Henry Memorial Lecture – October 23

Wendy McCarthy AO to give the second annual Margaret Henry Memorial Lecture – October 23

Respected businesswoman, educator and feminist activist Wendy McCarthy AO will present the second annual Margaret Henry Memorial Lecture at City Hall on October 23. The lecture is titled Taking a Long View – 50 Years as a Change Agent and McCarthy will speak about her commitment to shifting the concept and reality of being female in Australia and globally.

McCarthy was a co-founder of the Women’s Electoral Lobby, chief executive of The Sydney Community Foundation Women’s Fund and continues to advocate for women in public life. She has campaigned for abortion reform in NSW for the past 50 years and was chair of the Pro-Choice Alliance. In the lead up to legislative change earlier this month, McCarthy was one of 60 Sydney women who took to Facebook daring NSW police to arrest them for having had “illegal” abortions.

“Despite decades of progress, and high-profile women in political life, women are under-represented as senior leaders in many sectors,” said McCarthy.

“The balance sheet is positive in terms of the change agenda of the women’s movement, but the cultural change that maintains it has not happened. Women are still falling short,” she said.

The inaugural lecture was presented in 2018 by Renew Newcastle founder Marcus Westbury and was organised by family and friends of Margaret Henry who died in 2015. The former University of Newcastle academic and Newcastle City Council deputy mayor was well-known for leading community campaigns on a range of issues including heritage conservation, education, environmental protection, education and the preservation of the heavy rail line and Laman Street figs. In 2016, Henry was posthumously made a Freeman of the City, Newcastle’s highest civic honour.

Henry’s eldest daughter, Catherine, said the lecture provided an opportunity to honour her mother and McCarthy was a clear choice for a speaker given the impact of the #metoo movement.

“Mum and Wendy knew each other and both are recipients of an Edna Ryan award, which are presented to feminists who make a difference to the lives of women,” Ms Henry said.

Said McCarthy: “I have always had enormous respect for Margaret and there were many connecting points in our lives. I’m honoured to be presenting this year’s lecture.”

The lecture will be held from 6.30pm on October 23 in the Banquet Room in Newcastle City Hall. Tickets are $15/$20

Media information: For more details about the lecture and to arrange an interview with Wendy McCarthy please contact Craig Eardley on 0437 477 493 Catherine Henry 0417 292 700.

What? Religious Freedom: Do we need more protection?

Australia is a multicultural and multi-faith society. In recognition of this, there is a multitude of laws which protect Australians against discrimination based on religion. These laws, across jurisdictions, allow Australians to practice the religion of their choice. The 2018 Religious Freedom Review, chaired by former attorney-general Philip Ruddock did not find religious freedom in “imminent peril” but acknowledged the need for constant vigilance to maintain these freedoms.

Despite this, the current federal government has recently released a draft religious discrimination bill which makes it unlawful to discriminate against Australians on the basis of their religion. This draft bill has been developed in the context of the 2017 marriage equality debate and the more recent controversy over rugby player Israel Folau’s social media posts which lead to his contract being terminated.

At the October Newcastle Institute event, Father Rod Bower, from the Anglican Church, Gosford will be discussing whether more protection for religious freedom is needed. The Venerable Rod Bower is an Anglican priest, and Archdeacon for Justice Ministries and Chaplaincy in the Diocese of Newcastle. He is an ambassador for the Refugee Council of Australia and serves on the board of the Samaritans Foundation.

You can see a copy of then video stream of the event below.


Father Bower is a passionate advocate for a number of social justice and human rights issues, including marriage equality. He believes that our treatment of Asylum Seekers, the lack of action on climate change and the failure to adequately recognize First Nations people damages our communal soul. He is committed to building social and cultural capital and contributing to the evolution of an Australia where there is respect, peace and harmony. He will discuss the issues around religious freedom and challenge the need for strengthening these laws.

Open to the Public – All welcome – Members have complimentary access – We request a $10 donation from other attendees to assist with our costs.


Wednesday October 9th
Souths Leagues Club
Llewellyn st

What is the state of Regional Media?

The last two decades have seen massive changes in all forms of mass media. These changes have been particularly felt in regional areas where resources for media have contracted. The days of locally owned radio and television stations covering local news and community events are becoming a distant memory, and much original reportage is left to newspapers that face their own economic headwinds and corporate takeovers.

In this area, the Newcastle Herald has recently been sold by the Nine Network to become part of Australian Community Media – now Australia’s largest independent newspaper publisher. With this and other changes in the local media landscape, there is uncertainty as to how the impact will be felt by the local community.

The challenges facing regional media are being discussed at the September Newcastle Institute event taking place at Souths next Wednesday, 11th September.

Watch a replay of the livestream


  • Editorial Director of Australian Community Media Rod Quinn, a former editor of the Newcastle Herald, is visiting Newcastle for the forum.  He will give his perspective on the recent changes, particularly with regard to the future of the Newcastle Herald.
  • University of Newcastle academic Paul Scott from the School of Creative Industries will look at how the media landscape has changed, particularly due to the rise of the internet, loss of advertising revenue, and growth of social media as an ‘information’ source.

Local media facilitates social interaction within a community, and is part of a community’s identity. Oversight of local government and maintenance of democracy at the ‘grass roots’ level depends on local media. The importance of diversity and strong investigative powers in local media to a healthy democracy cannot be underestimated. The forum provides a unique opportunity to discuss the importance of local media.

Newcastle Institute members receive complimentary access to all of our events.  All other people are very welcome and we simply request a donation at the door.

There is no online registration available for this month’s event

Confusion, Contradictions and Consequences

Dr Richard Denniss, a former Novocastrian who is now Chief Economist as The Australia Institute, will highlight the confusion and contradictions surrounding the debate about coal in Australia and the consequences of that confusion for protecting and creating jobs in the Hunter.

See the Facebook video stream of this event below :

Dr Richard Denniss is the Chief Economist and former Executive Director of The Australia Institute. He is a prominent Australian economist, author and public policy commentator, and a former Associate Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at the Australian National University in Canberra. Richard was described by Mark Kenny in the SMH as “a constant thorn in the side of politicians on both sides due to his habit of skewering dodgy economic justifications for policy”. In October 2018, The AFR listed Richard and Ben Oquist of The Australia Institute as equal 10thplace in their ‘Covert Power’ list of the most powerful people in Australia.

In 2017, Richard was awarded a National Leadership Award for Alumni from the University of Newcastle.

The event will commence at 6pm and conclude at 7.30pm. Everybody is welcome and members have complimentary rights to attend.  For other attendees, we request a $10 donation at the door to assist us with our ongoing costs of presenting events.

July event: What? Music – Why does it matter?

What an engaging event:

Thanks to Paul and David for such an educative experience, and thanks to all of our attendees.

See the video of the event here

Music is an integral part of our lives. From very early ages we are exposed to music with rhythms and rhymes as an important part of childhood development. Music elicits emotional responses, fosters creativity and helps in our understanding of the world and our place in it. There is also evidence of the health and social benefits of music at all stages of life. 

Despite the benefits and beauty of music, there are questions whether as a society we value music in all its forms. If it is valued are we maximising the benefits of music for individuals and for the broader community through supportive and effective education programs for children in schools and diverse musical opportunities for society.

Discussing these important questions next Wednesday 10th July 2019 at a forum presented by the Newcastle Institute will be Dr David Banney and Mr Paul Bevan.

David and Paul worked together on ABC Newcastle presenting Banney’s Baton Banter, a fascinating discussion examining music in all its forms. David is conductor, a composer, and a music educator as well as practising locally as doctor. In addition to his role as a former ABC presenter, Paul has had a lifelong commitment to musicand in particular singing. He also played a crucial role in the establishment of the Hunter Orchestra.

In addition to discussing why music matters, David and Paul will provide an encore of their banter. This offers devotees of this former ABC Newcastle program with the opportunity to once again listen to these musical experts deliver a fascinating insight into music and its elements. This is a unique opportunity for followers of Banney’s Baton Banter, and others with a commitment, interest and love of music to understand why music must matter.

The event will commence at 6pm and conclude at 7.30pm. Everybody is welcome and registration is possible by clicking the link at the right.

Newcastle as a restorative city.

Our June forum at the Newcastle Institute will be looking at Restorative Justice

What is a Restorative city? What is Restorative Justice?

The Restorative City movement grew out of restorative justice initiatives, which seeks to transform the cultural and social fabric of a city to focus on building strong and healthy relationships in finding a constructive solution to crime, rather than relying on the justice system to apply a punitive approach.

Here is the video stream of the presentation.

Professor Tania Soudin– Dean of Newcastle Law School, Uni of Newcastle
Professor John Anderson, Dr Nicola Ross–Uni of Newcastle
Superintendent Daniel Sullivan- Lake Macquarie Police Local Area Commander
Magistrate Nell Skinner– Broadmeadow Children’s Court
Kerrie Thompson– CEO VOCAL

The forum starts at 6pm and will be taking place at Souths Leagues Club in Llewellyn Street Merewether.

Some contemporary comment from The Weekend Australian

Everybody is welcome and there will be time for questions and interaction.

Please use the link on the right to register. Members should select the member option to access their complimentary entry.