Public Orations

The History Trust of South Australia has concluded its 2023 series of Orations. This year we had a strong historical focus that connected our past with the present. The Orations celebrated and acknowledged the work and societal impact of these four significant South Australians – Sir Hubert Wilkins, Jennifer Cashmore, Gladys Elphick, and Dame Roma Mitchell.

Sir Hubert Wilkins

Wilkins’ and Mawson’s Polar Pursuits: exploring southern connections and degrees of separation13 April 2023

Join us for a fascinating deep dive into the qualities and spirit of two remarkable polar explorers.

Who were these daring South Australian figures of the past? Why were they drawn to undertake supremely high-risk polar expeditions, remembering these pre-dated specialist modern Antarctic training and preparation regimes? In the 2023 Sir Hubert Wilkins Oration, Emma McEwin explores the personalities and backgrounds of both Hubert Wilkins and Douglas Mawson. Although known for their opposing views and approaches, both men shared similar interests and character traits. Both married independent women who enabled their careers and played an important role in supporting their many risky ventures. She ultimately reflects on their legacies in the 21st century. 

Watch the 2023 Sir Hubert Wilkins Oration below

Gladys Elphick Oration

South Australia’s Democratic Leadership: The Voice in History – 4 July 2023

In this year of history-making, hear how South Australia’s leadership in the establishment of a First Nations Voice to Parliament continues to shape the national conversation. Please join the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations and the Public Service, the Honourable Kyam Maher MLC, as he delivers this year’s Gladys Elphick Oration. The Oration honours the legacy of Gladys Elphick MBE, a woman of Kaurna-Ngadjuri descent who was the founding president of the Council of Aboriginal Women of SA. Auntie Glad, as she was known to the community, was a highly respected elder, known for her quick wit and shrewd mind.

Jennifer Cashmore Oration

From Asylums to Community Care and Beyond – Human Rights and Mental Health: Lessons from History 2023 Jennifer Cashmore Oration6 September 2023

The History Trust of South Australia is proud to present the 2023 Jennifer Cashmore Oration featuring Dr John Brayley MBBS FRANZCP, Chief Psychiatrist at SA Health. Having previously held roles in both mental health and general health, Dr Brayley has been Director of Mental Health for South Australia, the Public Advocate for South Australia, and Chief Medical Officer for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in Canberra. Click through to read more about Dr Brayley’s 2023 oration and access supporting materials here.

Watch the 2023 Jennifer Cashmore Oration below

Watch the 2023 Gladys Elphick Oration below

Dame Roma Mitchell Oration

Climate Change and Human Rights: Australia’s Next Big Challenge2 November 2023

The defining feature of this epoch is humanity. The Anthropocene is the era of our species dominating and shaping this planet, ushering in the sixth extinction event, changing our climate and putting ourselves ahead of all other species. The question of our time is what changes in how we conduct ourselves are needed to make this emerging epoch one in which we can continue to live and proper? Is our technology powerful enough, is our ingenuity at solving problems sufficient, and can strengthening environmental protections turn the tide? Or do we need a reconsideration of what matters to us, of what our modern culture values, and could a deeper understanding of how humans have lived in partnership with the Earth rather than in dominion over it be the missing ingredient? Why does a politician ask these questions? This oration argues that if these questions are not aired in the mainstream, we will let the last decades of our opportunity to make a difference slip through our fingers. Drawing on examples of hope, the Deputy Premier discusses how we can find a sustainable future together.