Hugh Stretton Oration 2021: On Life's Lottery with Professor Glyn Davis AC

19 February 2021

A child from an impoverished background is five times – five times - more likely to suffer adult poverty Glyn Davis

The Stretton Institute hosted the inaugural Hugh Stretton Oration 'On Life's Lottery' featuring Professor Glyn Davis AC in the historic Elder Hall on the evening of 18 February 2021. 

Speakers with Pat Stretton

L-R) Professor Peter Høj AC, Vice-Chancellor and President, The University of Adelaide; Professor Adam Graycar, Director, Stretton Institute; Mrs Pat Stretton; Professor Jacqueline Lo, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), The University of Adelaide; The Reverend Peter Sandeman, Anglican Canon for Social Justice and Advocacy; and Professor Faye McCallum, Head of School of Education, The University of Adelaide. 

The evening began with a welcome by the University of Adelaide's Pro Vice-Chancellor (International), Professor Jacqueline Lo. This was followed by an opening address and introduction of the orator, Professor Glyn Davis AC, CEO of the Paul Ramsay Foundation, by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Peter Høj AC.

In his oration, Professor Davis, who joined the event from Melbourne, discussed the role of government and charities in addressing intergenerational poverty.

Professor Davis highlighted the scale of disadvantage in Australia, with some 3.24 million Australians (or 13 % of the population) living below the poverty line, three-quarters of a million being children. He noted that while Australia is a proud meritocratic society, social mobility remains highly constrained for the most disadvantaged. For the child, the longer they spend in poverty, the worse their likely socio-economic outcomes.

In the true tradition of Hugh Stretton, Professor Davis believes the solution in addressing poverty lies with policy innovation and experiments which build on what works. There must be the courage to abandon old ideas and embrace new approaches, and well-led collaborative partnerships between governments, communities and organisations working towards a common agenda through a shared measurement system, mutually reinforcing activities, continuous dialogue and a backbone organisation (also known as collective impact).  

A panel discussion facilitated by Professor Lo followed Professor Davis' oration. Joining them on stage were the Reverend Peter Sandeman, Anglican Canon for Social Justice and Advocacy and former CEO of Anglicare SA and Professor Faye McCallum, Head of School of Education at the University. 

The event was also part of The University of Adelaide's In Conversation With series, featuring global speakers and attendees. A full recording of the oration including the panel discussion can be found here. A copy of Professor Davis' oration can be found here.

The oration was also featured as an ABC Big Ideas podcast entitled The Unfairness of Birth.

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Tagged in Hugh Stretton Oration, intergenerational poverty, poverty, public policy, events