Public lectures explore Indigenous politics and Constitutional reform


Public lectures explore Indigenous politics and Constitutional reform

To mark Social Sciences Week, two experts from Charles Sturt will each present a free public lecture at Old Parliament House in Canberra on Wednesday 11 September.

  • Charles Sturt celebrates Social Sciences Week with two free lectures at Canberra’s Old Parliament House on Wednesday 11 September
  • The first lecture explores Indigenous politics and citizenship in colonial contexts and the second discusses constitutional reform as a remedy for political disenchantment in Australia
  • The lectures will be delivered by experts in political science and constitutional law

Charles Sturt University (Charles Sturt) will host two free public lectures in one event at Old Parliament House on Wednesday 11 September to mark this year’s Social Sciences Week (Monday 9 to Friday 13 September).

Associate Professor Dominic O’SullivanThe lectures – to be presented by two experts from Charles Sturt - will explore Indigenous politics and citizenship in colonial contexts and how constitutional reform could remedy political disenchantment in Australia.

Associate Professor Dominic O’Sullivan (pictured) from the Charles Sturt School of Humanities and Social Sciences (SHSS) will deliver the first presentation titled ‘We are all here to stay: Citizenship, Sovereignty and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples’.

The presentation will show the UN Declaration has two overarching objectives: to affirm an Indigenous people’s right to maintain and develop their own political authority; and to consider what it means for an Indigenous person to enjoy the capacities of state citizenship in substantively equal fashion, in ways that are culturally meaningful and responsive to colonial context.

The second presentation will be delivered by Senior Lecturer and Law Discipline Head in the Charles Sturt University School of Accounting and Finance, Dr Bede Harris.

Dr Harris’s presentation, ‘What ails us – Constitutional reform as a remedy for political disenchantment in Australia’, asserts that Australia’s political disenchantment originates in flaws in the Constitution.

The presentation will argue that there are six key areas needing reform: the electoral system; legislative scrutiny of the executive; rights protection; the federal system; the constitutional status of Indigenous people; and access to constitutional justice.

Dr Bede HarrisDr Harris (pictured) said a greater understanding of our Constitution is what is needed to fight political disenchantment and it all assists in our understanding of how social sciences affect all Australians.

“It’s important to recognise that social science affects every area of life and in particular, the way power is allocated in society,” Dr Harris said.

Dr Harris said by examining power relationships and vulnerable people, citizens become more aware of their place in society.

“I think it’s very important for people to think about those issues because society consists of the people,” he said.

Associate Professor O’Sullivan is a highly-regarded political researcher and commentator whose work has appeared in The Conversation, OpenForum, the New Zealand Herald and ABC Radio.

He is a member of Charles Sturt’s Institute for Land, Water and Society, and has published six books and more than 55 journal articles and book chapters on topics in comparative Indigenous politics and public policy.

Dr Harris has taught constitutional law in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia and conducted substantive research and published several books on constitutional reform and human rights.

He has made numerous submissions to legislative inquiries on matters such as constitutional recognition of the rights of Indigenous people, electoral matters and human rights and is regularly featured on ABC Radio and in The Conversation.

The free lecture is on between 6pm and 8.30pm on Wednesday 11 September at Canberra’s Old Parliament House, 18 King George Terrace, Parkes, ACT.

Members of the public are welcome to attend the lecture and registrations for the lecture are available on the Eventbrite website.

In addition, Charles Sturt is hosting a free webinar on social justice which features talks from Associate Professor O’Sullivan and three academics from the Charles Sturt SHSS.

The ‘Social justice for all’ webinar is a two-hour webinar on Wednesday 11 and Thursday 12 September from 2pm.

Associate Professor O’Sullivan will present on the topic of the politics of Maori child welfare: A New Zealand treaty perspective.

Associate Professor and Associate Head of the Charles Sturt SHSS Susan Mlcek will explore the place of social justice for Indigenous peoples, within a pedagogy of discomfort.

Charles Sturt lecturer in social work and human services Rohena Duncombe will explore the topic of rural homeless health.

Charles Sturt lecturer in social work and human services Monica Short will present on the topic: social work, sociological and theological insights.

The webinar will be hosted via Adobe Connect on the Charles Sturt website. Add your name and ‘Enter Room’ via the guest login to access the webinar.

Media Note:

To indicate your interest in attending the political science lecture event in Canberra or to arrange interviews with the academic presenters, contact Rebecca Tomkins at Charles Sturt Media on 02 6338 6270 or

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