Hugh Stretton Oration

The Hugh Stretton Oration is an annual public lecture established in 2021 in honour of the late Emeritus Professor Hugh Stretton AC. 

2024 Hugh Stretton Oration

Details to be announced soon.


View past orations

Access video or audio recordings of the previous Hugh Stretton Orations.

  • 2023 Public policy for an ageing Australia - The Hon Mark Butler MP

    On Thursday the 27th of April, the Stretton Institute hosted the Hugh Stretton Oration 2023 with the Hon Mark Butler MP, Minister for Health and Aged Care as orator.

    Hugh Stretton's passionate concerns were about fairness and equity. This plays out in population change and ageing. Like most of the developed world Australia has an ageing population. The Minister examined the impact of the increase in Australians’ life expectancy over time and the achievement’s resultant touchpoints across policy and politics. 

    The Oration also included responses from Professor Renuka Visvanathan, Head of Unit of the Aged & Extended Care Services at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and Ms Divya Narayan, a recent law graduate and lead researcher on the 2022 South Australian Law Reform Institute report on the safeguarding of vulnerable older people.

    The Orator: The Hon Mark Butler MP

    mark butler portrait

    Mark Butler graduated from the University of Adelaide with degrees in Law and Arts.  He also has an MA in International Relations.  He has been a Labor Member of Federal Parliament since 2007 and is the Minister for Health and Aged Care.

    Mark served as Minister for Ageing and Australia’s first Minister for Mental Health in the Gillard Government. He has also held the ministries of Housing, Homelessness, Social Inclusion, Climate Change, Water and the Environment.

    He has long been a champion for society’s most vulnerable, and was a member of the South Australian Social Inclusion Board during its major review of the South Australian mental health system.

    Mark is the author of Advanced Australia – The Politics of Ageing, published in 2015; and Climate Wars, published in 2017.

  • 2022 Australia Fair: is the playing field fair for women and girls? - Natasha Stott Despoja AO

    Hugh Stretton’s passionate manifesto, Australia Fair, wondered if fairness was still our defining national characteristic. Almost 20 years later, how are we faring?

    As Australian public life faces a ‘reckoning’ over discrimination and disrespect of women, Natasha will examine how the pandemic and other world events, make the creation of a fairer world that much more challenging, especially when it comes to violence against women and girls.

    Natasha will explore the renewed focus on gender equality, and ask whether or not the playing field (in every sense: from sport to politics), is genuinely fair for women. Has it ever been?

    Perhaps now is the time for a new road map - a new manifesto - for change.

    The Orator, Natasha Stott Despoja AO

    Natasha Stott Despoja

    Natasha Stott Despoja AO is an Australian politician, diplomat, gender equality advocate, non executive director and author. Natasha has been a lifelong advocate for the rights of women and girls. She entered the Senate, representing South Australia at 26, and served from 1995 to 2008, including as Leader of the Australian Democrats. She was responsible for pioneering legislation on issues ranging from stem cell regulation, paid parental leave, genetic privacy, a human rights charter and same-sex marriage. 

    In recent years, she has worked nationally and globally to prevent violence against women and children. From 2013-2021, she was the inaugural Chair of Our Watch, and from 2013 – 2016, she was Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls. She is a member of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), an alumnus of the University of Adelaide and in 2021 was the proud recipient

  • 2021 On Life's Lottery - Professor Glyn Davis AC

    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.

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