History of the lecture and in memory of Nancy Hillier
In 2016, staff in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales proposed an annual lecture to commemorate the life and work of Nancy Hillier OAM, a prominent figure in the Botany Community, instigator of significant community services across many fields, and a life time supporter of education and scholarship.
The inaugural lecture took place at NSW Parliament House in August 2016. Botany Bay City Council and now the new Bayside City Council agreed to host and co-fund the lecture as an ongoing annual event, in conjunction with UNSW. Development of the lecture series has involved UNSW staff, Botany Bay community members, Bayside Council staff and councilors, Botany Historical Trust, NSW government MPs, and Nancy’s family.
Nancy’s many contributions to the development of services, to championing the interests of residents, and to protection of the environment in the Botany Bay region, are very well known. Her legacy is aptly summarized in the title of her SMH obituary as the “Relentless rebel with many causes”.
Moving to Botany at 17, and faced with the inexorable development of the suburb in which she found herself, Nancy became embroiled in what became her life’s work – fighting for justice for local residents, the community and the environment. From extensions to the port of Botany through to industrial contamination, there was much to confront.
A natural organizer, Nancy always led from the front, which did not go unrecognized. Named 1985 Botany Council citizen of the year, she worked tirelessly in her community, often challenging industry and governments at the highest levels. She received a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2006.
Nancy was also tireless in assisting academics and students, many from UNSW, in their research and teaching projects. She also co-authored academic analysis, and wrote many reports, submissions, letters and other public documents. Her own extensive archive is held by Bayside's local Library.
This lecture series acknowledges Nancy’s heritage, recalling her work and passion while providing an avenue for others to debate issues that resonate with Nancy’s work. Over the years, the annual event will help forge scholarly and broader community relationships and commitments.
The general theme of the lecture series is community participation in the achievement of social and environmental objectives.
Each year, at least one presentation will be given by a young emerging community leader. This recognizes the important perspective of a younger generation, and reminds us that the necessity to ‘pass the baton’ to emerging leaders and activists was amongst Nancy’s greatest passions.
With thanks to all the contributors above, and to others who assisted to initiate and organise this event:
Bayside City Council: staff and councilors
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences UNSW: Events and Media team.
Parliament House staff, and the office of MLC Cate Faehrmann
Jean Hinchliffe is a 15-year-old school student and climate activist. As the Sydney group founder and lead national organiser within School Strike 4 Climate, she campaigns for legislative action to end the climate crisis. She first initiated her activist journey at the age of thirteen through volunteering with the Vote Yes campaign for marriage equality, before becoming involved with GetUp and Stop Adani. However, it was only in late 2018 that she started to focus on the climate crisis above other issues. When she isn’t trying to save the world, Jean works as a professional actress.
Varsha Yajman is a year 12 student at Gosford High on the Central Coast. She grew up in Sydney for the most part, and says going to school on the Coast has given her exposure to diverse perspectives on societal issues such as female rights, health, and environmental issues. Her greatest passion, climate activism, led to her involvement with the National Leadership Team for the Australian Youth Climate Coalition and the National and the core Sydney team for School Strike 4 Climate. She says this is more than just fighting for a sustainable world but rather about being part of a collective movement with capacity to empower every individual to unite and fight for a greater cause. Varsha's interests also include the mental health sector and she will contribute more time to this after finishing high school.
Elly Baxter is a communications specialist with more than ten years experience running media and marketing campaigns in the arts. As a teenager she was involved in local environmental activism and has recently become active again as part of Extinction Rebellion Sydney.
Tema Milstein is an associate professor of Environment & Society at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and convenor of UNSW’s Master of Environmental Management program. Her research and teaching focus on the intersections of culture, discourse, and ecological relations. Tema's research spans the globe, examining ecological activism, ecotourism and endangered wildlife, ecoculture meaning systems and identity, and ecoculture jamming. Her newest work, the 40- author International Handbook of Ecocultural Identity, will be published early next year. A former US Fulbright Scholar, Tema has taught at universities in the United States, Australia, Italy, China, and New Zealand. She has worked as a newspaper and public radio journalist, and recently participated as an invited speaker at Extinction Rebellion rallies in Sydney.
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