What matters in Australia today: Four perspectives

Monday 1 June 2009
Adelaide Town Hall
, 128 King William Street, Adelaide

Jointly presented by the Australia Day Council of South Australia and  the Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre

Audio transcript available here 

Experience four contemporary perspectives from four notable Australians, representing the rich diversity of our unique continent and its people.

This is your chance to hear their views about our country and to consider your own.

Chair: Chris Schacht - former Federal Senator and Australia Day Ambassador

Speaker details and written transcripts:

  • Hieu Van Le, Lieutenant Governor of South Australia and Chairman of SA Multicultural & Ethnic Affairs Commission 
  • Lillian Holt, Aboriginal educator and public speaker on Reconciliation 
  • Katrina Sedgwick, Festival Director, 2009 BigPond Adelaide Film Festival 
  • Matthew Cowdrey OAM, SA Young Australian of the Year 2009 and distinguished Paralympian
  • Jay Dohnt, SA paralympic swimmer and bronze medallist in the 400m freestyle in Beijing 2008 – replacing Matthew Cowdrey


Mr Hieu Van Le is the Chairman of the South Australian Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs Commission (SAMEAC) through to 31 December 2009. 

Mr Le became the Lieutenant Governor of South Australia on 31 August 2007.

Mr Le has been a member of SAMEAC since 1995, including three years as Deputy Chairman and, since 1 January 2007, as Chairman.  Vietnamese born, Mr Le is the first person of Asian ethnic background to hold the position of Chairman of the SAMEAC.

Mr Le is a Member of the Community Engagement Board of the SA Government.  He is also a Patron or an Honorary Member of a number of organisations, including:

  • Australian Chinese Medical Association (SA)
  • Chinatown Adelaide
  • Ethnic Schools Association of SA Inc
  • OzAsia Festival
  • Churchill Fellows Association of SA Inc
  • Migrant Resource Centre of South Australia Inc

Mr Le has a Degree in Economics and a Masters Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Adelaide in South Australia.  He is a senior Manager with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and is a member of the Australian Society of Certified Practising Accountants (CPA) and a Fellow Member of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia (Finsia).  Mr Le is a recipient of the 1996 Australia Day Medal for outstanding service to ASIC and has been awarded the Centenary of Federation Medal for service to the advancement of multiculturalism.

Lillian Holt was born on Cherbourg Aboriginal Settlement in Queensland. She has a BA with majors in English and Journalism (University of Queensland) and an MA from the University of Northern Colorado, USA and was formerly enrolled in a PhD on Aboriginal Humour at the University of Melbourne. Lillian has engaged actively in the public debate on Australian culture, civil society, and issues of reconciliation. She has travelled extensively, both within Australia and overseas and has spoken at a diverse range of conferences, nationally and internationally. In 2004, she was awarded a Gandhi/King/Ikeda Peace Prize by Morehouse College, USA (the Alma Mater of Martin Luther King) for her work in peace and reconciliation and, in the same year, was also named in the top ten finalists of The Bulletin magazine's "Smart 100" Society section.

Lillian has a strong commitment to education and over three decades of experience in indigenous education. In 1977, she became the first Aboriginal executive officer for the National Aboriginal Education Committee (NAEC), the inaugural advisory body to the federal government on Aboriginal education. She was also the first Aboriginal principal at Tauondi, Port Adelaide (an adult Aboriginal community college) from 1990-1996. From 1998 to 2002, she was the Director of the Centre for Indigenous Education at the University of Melbourne and then a Vice-Chancellor's Fellow from 2003-2005 at Melbourne University. In 2006, she returned to live in semi-retirement in Adelaide. Currently, she works part-time with Relationships Australia. Lillian is passionately interested in the healing of race relations in Australia and also in the power of humour.

Katrina Sedgwick has an extensive background as a performer, arts manager, creative producer and artistic director. She was a core member of the collaborative, multi-disciplinary Etcetera Theatre Company (1986-1994) with whom she performed in all of Australia's major festivals as well as overseas in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff, Monte Carlo and Singapore. She also was a freelance actor and devisor, performing in theatre, television, opera and film. In 1995, Katrina co-founded and co-directed the inaugural Sydney Fringe Festival. Katrina worked with renowned director Nigel Jamieson on Red Square for the 1996 Adelaide Festival [Associate Producer], Kelly's Republic for the 1997 Sydney Festival [Project Manager] and Flamma Flamma for the 1998 Adelaide Festival [Producer]. She was assistant during pre-pre-production to Kim Barrett, costume designer for Baz Luhrman's Romeo & Juliet, and was the Producer of the award winning short film The Lie Detector Test, directed and written by Paul Healy.

Katrina was appointed as Special Events Producer for the 1998 Telstra Adelaide Festival, a position she returned to in 2000, conceiving, developing and creatively producing a range of projects including the incredibly successful community based projects Flamma Flamma and Every Night A Wedding.

As the Artistic Director of Come Out '99, the Australian Festival for Young People, Katrina directed a program that saw an increase of schools attendances by over 40% across the program. In her capacity as Artistic Director for Adelaide Fringe 2002 Katrina directed the event's most successful program yet achieving an increase of 60% in attendances.

She was appointed AFF Director in 2002 and has just presided over a highly successful 2009 program.


Matthew Cowdrey was born with a congenital amputation of his left arm below the elbow and yet in all aspects of life he has overcome his disability to achieve great things. An outstanding athlete, he has achieved international status, winning a host of medals. By the age of 19 Matthew had broken 72 world records, 127 Australian records and 180 Australian age records. In 2007 he was named International Male Disabled Swimmer of the Year, and in 2008 he captained the Australian Paralympic swimming team in Beijing winning more medals than any other Paralympian. He is truly an inspiration to all.

Matthew has been awarded an OAM and was 2009 Young SA Finalist for the national Australia Day Awards.

Jay Dohnt is a South Australian Paralympic Swimmer and Bronze medallist in the 400m Freestyle in Beijing 2008.

Jay is currently, 18 years of age and a bi-lateral below knee amputee, he is also missing four fingers on his right hand. Jay acquired his disabilities due to Meningococcal disease sustained when he was 13.

His goals in Swimming are to attend the London 2012 Paralympics, to find a balance between the pool and open water swimming, to complete The Rottnest Island Challenge swim (approx. 20km) as well as a successful crossing of the English Channel (England to France).

While the views presented by speakers within the Hawke Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia or The Hawke Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: strengthening our democracy - valuing our cultural diversity - and building our future.

While the views presented by speakers within The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia, or The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: Strengthening our Democracy - Valuing our Diversity - Building our Future. The Hawke Centre reserves the right to change their program at any time without notice.