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Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture Series

Race 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.

1st Annual Memorial Lecture - October 2015

AHRC President Gillian Triggs, Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, Keir Enderby, Dorothy Enderby and Chief Justice Robert French

The innaugural Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture was given by the Hon. Robert French AC, Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia on the 40th anniversary of the Racial Discrimination Act coming into force.

Read the Race Discrimination Commissioner's introductory remarks here and you can watch the full address here.

The Racial Discrimination Act: A 40 Year Perspective


Kep Enderby, as Attorney General for the Commonwealth, introduced the Bill that became the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (RDA) into the Parliament in February 1975. Since its enactment, the RDA has been tested constitutionally and in its application in the courts and has been the subject of continuing public debate. In this its fortieth year, it has a secure place as an important part of Australia's legal and social history. However, as Kep Enderby himself recognised, legislation can only go so far in achieving a change which must ultimately come from 'within the minds of the people'.

Headshot of Chief Justice French

Speaker biography:

Robert Shenton French was appointed Chief Justice in September 2008. At the time of his appointment he was a judge of the Federal Court of Australia, having been appointed to that office in November 1986.

He graduated from the University of Western Australia in science and law. He was admitted in 1972 and practised as a barrister and solicitor in Western Australia until 1983 when he went to the Western Australian Bar. From 1994 to 1998 he was President of the National Native Title Tribunal. At the time of his appointment he was an additional member of the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory and a member of the Supreme Court of Fiji. He was also a Deputy President of the Australian Competition Tribunal and a part-time member of the Australian Law Reform Commission. From 2001 to January 2005 he was president of the Australian Association of Constitutional Law. Chief Justice French was appointed a Companion in the General Division of the Order of Australia in 2010.

2nd Annual Memorial Lecture - October 2016

Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane and David Morrison AO

The second annual Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture was given by David Morrison AO, Australian of the Year 2016.

This year's lecture also marked the introduction of the Race Discrimination Commissioner's Student Prize. An annual award which will be given to a student in Year 10 or 11 for an essay or speech that reflects on the question of racism in Australian Society. This year's prize winner was Mohamed Semra, a Year 11 student from Maribyrnong College in Victoria - read more here.

You can read the Race Discrimination Commissioner's introductory remarks here and the full text of Mr Morrison's speech here.

Girt by sea or girt by beach?


Mr Morrison examined how and why Australia is at its best when we embrace the world around us rather than turn inwards.

Headshot of David Morrison

Speaker biography:

General Morrison concluded his appointment as Australia’s Chief of Army in May 2015.  During a 36-year career as a soldier he saw operational service in Bougainville and East Timor and as an Australian Army Officer led troops from platoon level all the way up to three-star General - Chief of Army. His loyalty to his profession and outstanding performance was recognised by being made an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2010.

In his tenure at the top of Australia’s Army, David has faced many leadership challenges but he is probably best known for his strong public stance on gender equality and leading cultural change in large organisations. His three-minute address, via video, to his workforce in the wake of a particular instance of poor behaviour by a group of officers and senior soldiers, was posted on YouTube and has had over 1.6 million views. He has spoken about diversity and culture to the United Nations and at the Global Summit to Prevent Sexual Violence in Military Conflict.

The Australian Financial Review named David Morrison as one of Australia’s leading influences on culture in 2014 and Boss Magazine included him in its top dozen leaders in Australia in the same year. In 2015, David was appointed Chair of the Diversity Council Australia, appointed to the board of Our Watch.

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.

2020: Racial Equality in the Time of Coronavirus

How has Australia’s response to the pandemic affected diverse communities? From the racial targeting of Asian Australians to the hard lockdown imposed on residents in Melbourne’s public housing towers, the pandemic has raised questions about the place of diverse communities in Australian society. What has equality and inclusion looked like in the year of Coronavirus? What lessons can be learned? And how can we ensure diverse communities are included in the road to recovery?


  • Nyadol Nyuon
  • Ahmed Dini
  • Jason Yat-Sen Li
  • Diana Sayed

Register Here

The 2020 Kep Enderby Memorial Lecture is sponsored by the European Union Delegation to Australia. 


European Union delegation to Australia