Conservatorium Theatre, QCGU

With human rights and human security at the heart, Tuesday’s program examines; the many faces of terror; the use of humour and comedy in the fight against extremism; free speech and state censorship from the perspective of three former ‘prisoners of conscience’; ethics of intelligent machines – from driverless cars to killer drones; the moral challenge and political enigma of the global refugee crisis.

A series of keynotes, panels, performance and ‘watercooler’ conversations



Adult  $170
Partners/Staff*  $150
Students/Conc.  $65


Adult  $300
Partners/Staff*  $260
Students/Conc.  $110

* Partners/Staff: Griffith University Staff/Alumni/Partners
** Concession: Tertiary & Secondary Students, Pensioners, Concession Card Holders

9.00 AM



“Imagine, for a moment, that you have no words. That the language you knew, the mother tongue spoken by your ancestors for tens of thousands of years, has dissolved. Vanished. Been swept away.”

– Jane Armstrong, from dirtsong Barbican

Shellie Morris (Australia)
Her voice and heart-felt music has seen her grace stages from the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow in 2014, the Sydney Opera House, to the Vancouver Winter Olympics and Skirball Centre in New York…
Full profile

Shellie is accompanied by:
Singers: Lorinda Merrypor, Sarah Whalen, Angelina Thomson & Hannah Grondin
Viola: Graeme Jennings Piano: Nii Anang   Snare Drum: Charles Hill

Sung in Gundjeihmi language from the southern end of Kakadu National Park
Based on an original composition by Shellie Morris, for Black Arm Band’s dirtsong stage show
Arr: J.Pook, I.Grandage & E. Ball Re-Orch: Andrea Keller
With special thanks to Black Arm Band

9.05 AM

Welcome and Acknowledgement of Country

Paul Mazerolle
Pro Vice Chancellor, Arts, Education and Law, Griffith University

9.15 AM

Jose Ramos Horta

José Ramos-Horta

“In victory be magnanimous, never seek to humiliate the adversary; if he is on his knees hold his hands and plead with him to rise up, embrace him. Walk half-way and meet the vanquished ones; embrace them, invite them to join in a new enterprise of peace, a new future for all.”

– José Ramos-Horta

Before serving his country as President, Dr. José Ramos-Horta was known internationally as a peacemaker. In exile from his country for the better part of three decades, he had been the international voice of the Timorese people while they fought for survival against one of the most brutal regimes of our time.

Appearing courtesy of Griffith Asia Institute

9.35 AM

The many faces of terrorism

Since the bombing of the World Trade Centre and related attacks on September 11 2001 barely a day passes without “terrorism” capturing the headlines. Those of us living in relatively stable societies view terrorism almost exclusively as acts of violence by individuals or non government organisations for religious, political or ideological ends — and with intent to cause disproportionate fear and societal disruption.

But what happens when similar tactics are employed by the State? When is one an act of ‘terror’ and another an act of peacekeeping, war or national defence?

Our panel of experts examine the many faces of global terrorism and the moral issues that surround it. What is terrorism and who are the terrorists? How does history, culture, government and the media influence and shape our understanding of it? And how do we best respond ensuring that the trade-off between counterterrorism and fundamental human rights such as privacy, liberty and security, isn’t too great?

Anna-Neistat-circle-red2Anna Neistat (Russia)
Human rights activist, lawyer, senior director of research at Amnesty International
Full profile

Charles-Lewis-circle-redCharles Lewis (US)
Bestselling author and international investigative journalist, named “one of the 30 most notable investigative reporters in the U.S. since World War I”
Full profile

Sarah-Chayes-circle-redSarah Chayes (US)
Senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and award-winning former National Public Radio (NPR) correspondent
Full profile

Raimond-Gaita-circle-redRaimond Gaita (Australia)
Award-winning author and philosopher
Full profile

Scott-Stephens-circle-blueCHAIR: Scott Stephens (Australia)
Author, philosopher, editor of ABC Religion & Ethics online and Co-Host of ABC’s The Minefield
Full profile

10.35 AM

Morning tea

11.05 AM


Taking injustice personally: Anna Neistat

Uncovering human rights abuses in some of the world’s most secretive and dangerous regimes

“…you are exposed to some of the worst suffering and injustice, but also to the extraordinary resilience and courage of ordinary people. That is what you bring back. A lesson in how to live with dignity and purpose, regardless of what life throws at you.”

– Anna Neistat

Human rights activist and lawyer ANNA NEISTAT has spent many years on the frontline, exposing and documenting human rights abuses. She has conducted more than 60 investigations in conflict areas including Afghanistan, Chechnya, China, Haiti, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Syria, Yemen and Zimbabwe. Anna recently returned from Nauru, where she spent a week examining Australia’s offshore immigration system… Full profile

11.20 AM


Extinguishing extremism with comedy: Sakdiyah Ma’ruf

“I try my best to deliver something that is undeniably true. So that if the fundamentalists care to see my performance, they can look at themselves and laugh.”

A passionate advocate for freedom and equality much of Sakdiyah’s comedy challenges Islamic fundamentalism and promotes women’s rights. One of the very few female standup comedians in Indonesia to appear on national TV, she has often been asked to censor her jokes but has refused to be silenced. Sakdiyah received the 2015 Václav Havel International Prize for Creative Dissent and was shortlisted for the 2016 Index on Censorship Awards… Full profile 

CHAIR: Madonna King (Australia)
Award-winning journalist, author and commentator
Full profile

11.35 AM

Writers under arrest

Freedom of speech and state censorship

Peter-Greste-circle-redPeter Greste (Australia)
PETER GRESTE is an Australian journalist and correspondent who has worked for Reuters, CNN, the BBC, and most recently Al Jazeera. On 29 December 2013, Egyptian security agents arrested Peter and two other Al Jazeera English journalists, accusing them of news reporting that was “damaging to national security”. He was jailed for 400 days in a crowded Egyptian Prison … Full profile

Rafael-Morais-circle-redRafael Marques de Morais (Angola)
RAFAEL MARQUES DE MORAIS is an award-winning journalist and anti-corruption activist in Angola, working to expose corruption and abuse of power by the country’s ruling family. Despite repeated arrests and threats Rafael has continued his investigations, most recently detailing human rights abuses within Angola’s diamond companies … Full profile

Ma-Thida-circle-redMa Thida (Myanmar)
MA THIDA is a Burmese surgeon, writer, political commentator and human rights activist. In 1993 Ma Thida was sentenced to 20 years in prison, of which she served spent five and a half years, for her activism. Ever since her release she has monitored and written on events in Burma, and, with the lifting of the military regime, now heads PEN International’s Myanmar Centre…Full profile

Madonna-King-circle-blueCHAIR: Madonna King (Australia)

Award-winning journalist, author and commentator
… Full profile

12.35 PM


1.20 PM

Moral machines

From intelligent algorithms to driverless cars and autonomous drones

Intelligent and autonomous systems are increasingly enhancing and redefining our lives.
The applications for these technologies are vast and breathtaking, from self-driving cars
and the use of ‘drones’ in disaster and humanitarian efforts to intelligent algorithms as
‘weapons’ against terrorism.

But the rapid development of ever-more-intelligent machines is as controversial as it is
exhilarating. The greater the autonomy, the more moral behaviours required, and the more
complex the ethical challenges raised.

So what does the future hold? Is it correct to fear an impending “intelligence explosion”,
one that, in the words of tech giants Bill Gates and Elon Musk, is “humanity’s biggest
existential threat” and has the potential to “destroy us all”?

Toby-Walsh-circle-redToby Walsh (Australia)
Expert in Artificial Intelligence, named in the inaugural Knowledge Nation 100, the one hundred rockstars of Australia’s digital revolution … Full profile

David-Tuffley-circle-redDavid Tuffley (Australia)
Recognized as an expert on the social impact of technology, senior Lecturer in Applied Ethics and SocioTechnical Studies at Griffith University … Full profile

Phil-Swinsburg-circle-red2Phil Swinsburg (Australia)

Director of Unmanned Systems Australia and 24-year veteran of the Australian Defence Force … Full profile

chris-griffith-circle-redChris Griffith (Australia)

Award winning technology journalist. Writes about computers, gadgets, VR, AI, drones for The Australian. … Full profile

Scott-Stephens-circle-blueCHAIR: Scott Stephens (Australia)
Author, philosopher, editor of ABC Religion & Ethics online and Co-Host of ABC’s The Minefield
Full profile

2.20 PM

Afternoon tea

2.50 PM

Robert Manne

Seeking asylum: Robert Manne

How can Australia’s uniquely harsh asylum seeker policies be explained?
“Thirty years ago if you had been told that Australia would create the least asylum seeker friendly institutional arrangements in the world you would not have been believed. Yet since that time we have introduced a system of indefinite mandatory detention for asylum seekers who arrive by boat and have accepted the idea that certain categories of refugees and asylum seekers can be imprisoned indefinitely; that those who are intercepted by our navy should be forcibly returned to the point of departure; that those who haven’t been able to be forcibly returned should be imprisoned on remote Pacific Islands; and that those marooned on these island camps should never be allowed to settle in Australia even after several years. How then has it come to pass?”
– Robert Manne

3.10 PM

Seeking asylum

The political enigma and moral challenge of the global refugee crisis

The global refugee crisis is one of the most emotive, controversial and divisive issues dominating the local and global stage.

We are facing the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II with millions of people fleeing their homes out of a ‘well founded fear of persecution’. On the other hand, somewhat ironically, some are experiencing a sense of fear and insecurity because increasing numbers of refugees are seeking security within their borders.

So what are the ethical obligations and moral responsibilities to such a massive crisis of human displacement?

Robert-Manne-circle-redRobert Manne (Australia)
Twice-voted Australia’s leading public intellectual, regular commentator and author of more than 25 books
Full profile

Pene-Mathew-circle-red2Pene Mathew (Australia)

A distinguished professor of law whose career has been devoted to human rights, particularly the rights of refugees … Full profile

Shami-Chakrabarti-circle-redShami Chakrabarti (UK)

One of the UK’s best known campaigners, author and lawyer … Full profile

Tim-Soutphommasane-circle-redTim Soutphommasane (Australia)

Author, philosopher and Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner … Full profile

Luke-Stegemman-circle-blue2CHAIR: Luke Stegemann (Australia)

Associate Publisher of Griffith Review and author

4.00 PM


Please join us in the foyer for some music and to mingle with our speakers and discuss the events of the day.