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Commercial Education Society of Australia

Back to Grassroots
Kathleen McKenzie


I WAS invited as President of the Commercial Education Society of Australia to represent the Society at the Boyer Lectures 20131. The speaker was Her Excellency, The Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia.

The lecture, titled ‘Back to Grassroots’, was a reflection of Bryce’s philosophy of the importance attached to the issues of human rights in building neighbourhood, community and citizenship.

Bryce drew on her experience of how personal witnessing or storytelling is vital to providing a forum for individuals and communities to seek recognition and to framing rights protection. This, she said, encouraged people to come forward to tell their stories so that the stories could become a stage for driving action and developing social change. For many, storytelling was their only viable means of seeking help and change and human dignity. Social change included working towards eliminating violence against women in Australia and the global workplace, and developing leadership skills for disadvantaged women.

For many, storytelling was their only viable means of seeking help and change and human dignity.

Bryce spoke of Australians as courageous, compassionate with an unbounded strength to face the rigours and tragedies of life and still bounce back. She recounted the bravery of Australians whether at war or in keeping Australians safe during bushfires and floods. She pointed out that Australians seem to have the ability to improvise with whatever resources are available and adapt to change. She talked about the idea of leadership, Australian citizenship, the influence of human rights structures concerning injustice and discrimination on both the local and the international scene.

She ended on a high note by encouraging Australians to participate in society, to be part of the community, celebrate the inroads that have been made, and to be both cautious and enthusiastic in advancing the future of Australian citizenship.


Note: The Boyer Lectures began in 1959 as the ABC Lectures. In 1961 they were re-named after Sir Richard Boyer, the ABC chairman who first proposed the lecture series. Prominent Australians have delivered these lectures, including

2008 Rupert Murdoch — A Golden Age of Freedom
1995 Eva Cox — A Truly Civil Society
1983 Justice Michael Kirby — The Judges
1979 Bob Hawke — The Resolution of Conflict
1969 Sir Zelman Cowan — The Private Man

These lectures are designed to stimulate ideas, conversation and debate on a wide range of topics.

Her Excellency, The Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia is also patron of the Commercial Education Society of Australia.

Kathleen
Kathleen McKenzie MAA FCES FRSA FIPS
November 2013

1 Boyer Lecture given by Her Excellency, The Honourable Quentin Bryce AC CVO, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, Friday 22 November 2013


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