We’re an independent, forward looking network committed to advancing the wellbeing of people and nature through conversation. A vibrant national conversation is vital if we are to address the critical issues of our time. Through thoughtful and informed conversation we can make full use of our diversity, reimagine the future, and set new priorities for environment, society, economy and politics.
More and more people, young and old, of different backgrounds, feel disillusioned by media hype, empty political noise, and unaccountable institutions. They sense that things have gone awry, that we have little say in the decisions that deeply affect our lives. Many are beginning to respond in creative ways.
This is fertile ground for a renewed vision of the possible – a future that privileges inclusion, not exclusion; the common good, not private gain; empathy, not indifference.
We envision a future that nurtures the health and wellbeing of the living and future generations, that respects life in all its forms, that values decisions made by open minds in democratic settings.
We see thoughtful, informed conversations as crucial to advancing this vision of the future.
Our aim is to focus the public conversation on the challenges and opportunities before us and what they mean for Australia and the world.
The political and economic order that has held sway in recent decades is crumbling. Poverty, hunger, human rights abuses, racism and armed conflict remain rife. The pleas of millions for a concerted response to climate change remain unheeded. The viability of our ecosystems is under threat. Our Indigenous peoples are still waiting for justice. And new threats loom large, not least the mass surveillance of citizens and the rising tide of populism.
Our mission is to explore ideas, ethical approaches, policies, institutional reforms and new ways of communicating that can effectively respond to these and other challenges.
We want to create congenial physical and virtual spaces where people can come together across the generational and cultural divides and make an informed contribution to the national conversation.
Our approach to the national conversation is distinctive. Informed by the ‘signs of the times’, it rests on several key principles:
- Business as usual is not an option – our thinking must be bold and creative
- Looking at symptoms is not enough – we must explore the causes of our present predicament
- Problems or crises cannot be viewed or acted upon in isolation – we need to seize the big picture
- We live in a highly interdependent world – problems are not just national but international and often global in scope; so must be the solutions
- Proposed solutions will not work unless we overcome roadblocks that stand in the way – existing mindsets and institutions must be reviewed to see if they are fit for purpose
- To participate effectively in conversation requires knowledge, access to reliable sources of information and a range of learning and other skills – we must be responsive to these needs
- None of this can be done by a single group – we need to engage with the professions, business, unions, community organizations, and many other local and international networks.
In all of this our aim is not to produce a quick or easy consensus. The dialogue must be vigorous, at times controversial, but always conducted respectfully and constructively.