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Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture Series

Race Discrimination
Kep Enderby (Archival photo)


The Australian Human Rights Commission has established the Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture to honour the memory of the Hon. Kep Enderby QC (1926-2015), who as Attorney-General introduced the Racial Discrimination Bill in the House of Representatives on 13 February 1975. The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) came into force on 31 October 1975. The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) is Australia’s first federal human rights and anti-discrimination legislation.

The Lecture is delivered annually by a leading figure to advance public understanding and debate about racism, race relations and the Racial Discrimination Act.

9th Annual Memorial Lecture - 31 October 2023

Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture: Racism in Sport. Oration by Ellen Van Neerven. With AHRC and EU Delegation logos, background of different sporting fields (soccer, tennis, golf, running, football).

Hundreds of people around the country gathered with experts to discuss one of the most pressing issues of our time: "Racism in Sport." This webinar came in response to the continued struggles faced by those harmed by racism in the world of sports and built upon decades of advocacy by the Commission.  

The 2023 oration was delivered by Ellen Van Neerven. Ellen is an award-winning writer of Mununjali (Yugambeh language group – South East Queensland) and Dutch heritage. They write fiction, poetry, plays and non-fiction. Ellen spoke to their deep expertise in the topic of racism in the sporting sector, drawing on their latest book, “Personal Score: Sport, Culture, Identity.” This book is described as a ground-breaking examination of sport's troubled relationship with race, gender and sexuality that raises important questions about playing sport on stolen, sovereign land.  

Following the Memorial Lecture, several leading experts formed a panel to discuss Racism in Sport, and the profound impact of the Women's World Cup.

Together, we can create a more inclusive and equitable sporting world for all.

Watch the 2023 'Racism in Sport' webinar recording on YouTube.


8th Annual Memorial Lecture - November 2022

Kep Enderby Lecture 2022 banner - Attorney General Mark Dreyfus

The Australian Human Rights Commission has held its annual Kep Enderby Lecture, with this year’s keynote address given by the Attorney-General of Australia, The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP

We stand at an important moment in our nation’s development. The challenges we face to maintain a peaceful, harmonious, multicultural society are many. To ensure a country free of racial discrimination in which everyone has every chance to fully participate in society, we need to move from a space of ‘safe’ to ‘brave’ on issues affecting those who experience discrimination.

This lecture was an opportunity to hear from the Attorney-General on the Australian Government’s vision to advance human rights. The AG spoke to the Government’s commitments on:

  • Justice for First Nations peoples and communities
  • A National Anti-Racism Strategy
  • Governance, integrity and transparency of human rights institutions

Following the Memorial Lecture, several leading experts formed a panel to discuss online hate and the need for legislative and other reforms.

Watch the 2022 'Human rights, anti-racism & reform' webinar recording on YouTube.


7th Annual Memorial Lecture - October 2021

The Australian Human Rights Commission has held its annual Kep Enderby Lecture, with this year’s keynote address given by acclaimed author Alice Pung.

The theme of the lecture was Embracing Cultural Diversity in Australia, and a panel discussion followed the lecture with panellists Kupakwashe Matangira, Zaahir Edries and Jidah Clark.

In her address, Ms Pung spoke powerfully about the power of language and the role it plays to both re-enforce and breakdown racial barriers.

“Australia is culturally diverse. That’s a given. But language is used to lock the working-class out of discussions about race.” said Ms Pung.

“You can’t just throw a book at someone and rail at them for being stubbornly ignorant for refusing to read it, when they work with their hands. They might’ve been fixing their Sri Lankan neighbour’s tap for free for the past six months. They might know this stuff already, innately, from working in a production line with Burmese refugees.

“Sure, some books and essays can change people’s thoughts, but we have to undertake the follow-through action instead of wallowing in the feelings of those books and essays – the feelings of guilt, discomfort, shame.

“Because it’s not our responsibility to be as patient as possible, as accomplished as possible, as generous as possible, to be accepted as Australians and to fix racism."

Watch the 2021 'Embracing Cultural Diversity in Australia' webinar recording on YouTube.

6th Annual Memorial Lecture - October 2020

Racial Equality in the Time of Coronavirus: How has Australia’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic affected diverse communities? What lessons can be learned? And how can we ensure diverse communities are included in the road to recovery?

These were the central questions for panellists during the 2020 Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture, which the Australian Human Rights Commission presented in partnership with the European Union Delegation to Australia.  

Nyadol Nyuon, a previous winner of the Commission’s ‘Racism. It Stops With Me’ award, moderated the discussion. Panellists included Ahmed Dini, Diana Sayed and Jason Yat-Sen Li. 

Mr Dini, a resident in the Melbourne towers that were subjected to a hard lockdown in July, said: “The year of COVID has shown the fault lines and also the pre-existing racism that exist within our society.”

He said the lockdown his community experienced “was the harshest and the hardest lockdown anywhere in the western world… and the reason we were all punished in this way is because we were seen as second-class citizens.”

Panellists discussed the significance of identity and storytelling in this context. They said stories about Australian values must be broadened out to include more diverse groups, because when only narrow stories are seen to represent Australian values it has the effect of ‘othering’ diverse communities. 

Watch the 2020 'Racial Equity in the Time of Coronavirus' webinar recording on YouTube.


5th Annual Memorial Lecture - October 2019

Thomas Keneally, Commissioner Chin Tan and Janice Petersen

The fifth annual Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture was given by Thomas Keneally AO, one of Australia’s best known and prolific writers. For the first time the lecture was followed by an in-depth conversation between Thomas Keneally and SBS World News presenter Janice Petersen.

You can read the Race Discrimination Commissioner's introductory remarks here and the full text of Mr Keneally’s speech here. You can also watch Mr Keneally’s speech here.

The Moveable Feast – Australia and race hate as experienced in the lifetime as an observer

Abstract: Mr Keneally’s lecture explores the history of race relations in Australia as seen through his eyes over the last several decades.

Speaker Biography:

Thomas Keneally AO is one of Australia's best known and prolific writers. He was born in 1935 and has written close to sixty novels and non-fiction works. He won the Booker Prize in 1982 for Schindler’s Ark, based on the life of Nazi Party member Oskar Schindler, who saved 1,200 Jews during World War II.

Tom has also won the Miles Franklin Award, the Los Angeles Times Prize, the Mondello International Prize, the Helmrich Award (US), the Trebbia International Prize from the Czech and Slovak governments. He has also been made a Literary Lion of the New York Public Library. He is recipient of the University of California gold medal, is an Officer of the Order of Australia, a National Living Treasure, and is now the subject of a 55 cent Australian stamp. 

Tom is an ambassador for the Asylum Seekers Centre and recently co-authored A Country too Far, an anthology by 27 of Australia's finest writers about the asylum seeker experience.


4th Annual Memorial Lecture - June 2018