Dear AAPAE members
It was cold and miserable outside; the unrelenting rain pounding the streets and the cold wind whipping through our hair. On the inside however, there was warmth and friendliness, cohesiveness and camaraderie. And we had a wonderful time.
Of course I am referring to the 18th Annual AAPAE conference convened by Dr Leila Toiviainen at the University of Tasmania‟s School of Philosophy, in June 2011. The Keynote speeches and presentations delivered at this conference were all outstanding, but two stand out in my memory for two totally different reasons.
The first of these two was delivered by Ms Barbara Etter CEO of the Tasmanian Integrity Commission. Barbara started off her illustrious career as a pharmacist, (and no, this is not the only reason her talk was memorable to me, although a good start!), and moved on to engage in work with forensics, coronial inquests and drug squads. As a woman in a male dominated field in those days, in her words she: “smashed through glass ceilings, but walked on broken glass for a long while…” Barbara captivated us with her talk about leadership, empowerment and collaborations.
On leadership in particular, Barbara excelled. She reflected and elaborated on a number of quotes, for example: “The first job of leadership is to inspire” (Covey Jnr); and: “Management is about doing things right, leadership is about doing the right things” (Drucker).
I was personally inspired by Barbara Etter‟s presentation, and found it most helpful in my own choice to step up to take the role of President of the AAPAE. Michael Schwartz, our immediate past President is a role model of leadership and integrity, with personal traits that make him a warm, reliable, trustworthy and wise leader. Those are the characteristics I aspire to, but this was no easy task I set myself!
The second memorable Keynote speaker was Mr Kiros Hiruy, who talked to us about „People of African Descent – the moral reality’. Kiros relayed to us his own journey to Australia, and his initiation to the “lucky country”. It was sad; in fact heart wrenching, to hear what he had to say in his factual non-emotive way. His softly spoken argument could move mountains.
As he left the lecture theatre I gently caught his arm to detain him. I thanked him for a momentous speech and asked him for the reference to the poetry he read out during that speech. Kiros promptly tore it from his notes and handed it to me…and I read it out again that evening at the conference dinner, so moved was I by the words. Some poetry, most in fact, is universal in application, which is why it is such an eloquent manner to reach out to touch people‟s heartstrings. The piece was written by Andrea Cork, and captures the essence of racism, and I thank Kiros Hiruy for sharing with us these precious words:
####Racism: It’s in the Way####
It‟s in the way you patronize
The way you avert your eyes
The way that you cannot disguise
Your looks of horror and surprise.
It‟s the assumptions that you make
On my behalf, and for my sake
And in the way you do not hear
The things we tell you loud and clear….
So, that was an excerpt of the wonderful time we had in Hobart, for which we thank Leila and her team profusely, and a taste of perhaps even more engaging, soul searching ethical deliberations at our next upcoming conference to be convened in Brisbane by Rev Professor John Morgan at the St John‟s College of the University of Queensland.
University of Sydney