SPC 7th Annual General Meeting

21 November 2012

Report by Peter Whiting SPC President.

Welcome to this, our seventh AGM. It is a pleasure to be able to review with you the achievements of SPC during the year. Consistent with our organisational objectives of addressing a range of social justice issues for the purposes of informing members and other interested parties, we have continued in our approach of arranging – either as SPC or in concert with like-minded organisations – forums on various topics, and recording them to make them available across the social media options. During 2012, SPC has held forums with:

  • Brian Lawrence, Chair of the Australian Catholic Commission for Employment Relations, who spoke in March on Working families, social inclusion and fair wages.
  • Gabriela Byrne in May spoke of her experience as a pokie addict, and how she has helped others overcome their gambling addiction.
  • Kevin Peoples spoke in June on his new book, Santamaria’s Salesman: Working for the National Catholic Rural Movement.
  • Dr Race Mathews in July talked on Cooperatives, social equity and participation.
  • With Franciscans International, SPC jointly hosted Joseph Rozansky OFM in August, speaking on Franciscan perspectives on peace and the environment.
  • Dr Philip Mendes from Monash University also spoke in August on problems of ensuring equity in the social security system.
  • Collaborating with St Vincent de Paul Society and VCOSS, PILCH, and the Justice & International Unit of the Uniting Church, SPC jointly convened a conference on Human Rights Matters for Anti-Poverty Week in October, with keynote speaker again being Cassandra Goldie, head of ACOSS, together with Mark Zirnsak, Fr Frank Brennan and others.
  • Professor Kevin O’Connor spoke in October of improved city planning for Melbourne.
  • Our final forum for the year this evening, as you know, will be presented shortly by Bruce Duncan CSsR on Faith, values and social policy.

We continue to leverage the reach of our lectures and publications, with ourwebsite offering access to these through podcasts available on the various social media sites. Our thanks go to Matthew Howard for his work in this keeping us up to date in this area. I am delighted to report that, over 2012, the number of people accessing the website has doubled. So far this year, we have had over 30,000 unique visitors, making about 90,000 visits, and opening over 400,000 pages. We are keen to continue to increase this access, and would welcome member submissions on relevant topics to enrich the data available.

We also owe a debt of gratitude to the sterling work of staff and supporters. Anne Tuohey, the Executive Officer, has written many of our editorials, kept us in touch with the social justice sector and represented us at various forums and events. Thankyou, Anne. Our office coordination has been again ably managed by Susy Herlihy. You will all have encountered her, if not in person at the office or at our events, then most certainly in her email communications!

As with any small organisation like ours, much is done by volunteers. I acknowledge not only their great contribution to our endeavour, but also the generous nature with which they offer their support. It is always a bit fraught to name volunteers, lest you unwittingly forget others who have contributed along the way, but I would like particularly to acknowledge Bill, Siobhan, and William for their contributions.

I would also like to acknowledge my colleagues on the Committee. We have a number of members standing down at this AGM. This comes about as a result of a series of unrelated motivators, and we will be sad to see them leave the Board. We will miss not only their informed contributions, but also their company. Our thanks to Arthur Gibbs, Livia Carusi, Michaela Guthridge and Maddie Marson. Going forward into 2013, a key objective will be to extend the numbers on the Committee to ensure we are representative of the membership base and competent to address the matters before us.

The way forward for 2013 is currently under discussion. Two key themes are to the foremost in our thinking:

  1. The issues of inequality of living conditions and opportunity both within and outside Australia
  2. The need to develop sustainable approaches to economic and ecological aspects of human endeavour

We will develop these themes further in our events in 2013.

Finally, but not least in consideration, a vote of thanks to our members who have so consistently supported SPC’s efforts in 2012, either through your financial support, or through your presence at our various functions. It is much appreciated by those who work within SPC.


Peter Whiting

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