Next month, Sean Faircloth (Author of “Attack of the Theocrats: How the Religious Right is harming us all, and what we can do about it!”) will be touring Australia, and is appearing at events in Sydney, Melbourne, and Perth. His tour is being supported by a number of freethought organisations, headed by the Rationalist Society of Australia.
Sean’s tour will focus on why and how Australian Freethinkers should be pushing back actively against religious fundamentalists’ inroads into government, and defending our nation’s proud secular heritage.
The tour will coincide with the launch the Rationalist Society’s “10 Point Plan to Reclaim a Secular Australia”, developed by a coalition of freethought groups.
These events are open to the public, and students are encouraged to join!
During the Sydney leg of his tour, Sean will be speaking at the Sydney Opera House at 4pm on Sunday March 24th, in part of a debate on the topic of “Church and State. Sean will be joined by AC Grayling, Catholic priest and human rights lawyer Fr. Frank Brennan SJ, and Minister for Family and Community Services the Hon. Pru Goward MP.
Tickets are on sale now, so don’t miss this tremendous line up. Standard tickets are $35-$45, plus $8.50 transaction booking fee.
Melbourne and Central Victoria
Following the Sydney Opera House event, Sean will be appearing at Melbourne University’s The Spot (Basement theatre, 198 Berkley St, Carlton, the new Business and Economics building in University Square south of Grattan St) at 7pm on Tuesday March 26th to discuss “Countering Religious Extremism: Australia and Abroad”.
Tickets are now on sale to the public, with early bird prices ($25 for adults, $12 for students and healthcard holders) offered throughout February.
During his stay in Victoria, Sean will be travelling to Central Victoria and speaking at the Kyneton Mechanics Institute on Wednesday March 27th.
Ticketsare on sale, with discounts available for members of the Central Victorian Atheists and Freethinkers and the RSA.
Back in Melbourne, Sean will attend a Wheeler Centre Lunchbox/Soapbox at 12:45pm on Thursday March 28th (176 Little Lonsdale St, Melbourne. Sean will then be available to sign copies of his book “Attack of the Theocrats”, sponsored by the wonderful Embiggen Books. More details of the Wheeler Centre event can be found here.
In Western Australia, Sean will visit the University of Western Australia on Tuesday April 2nd , discussing government funding of chaplains and special religious instruction. Book your tickets here!
For more information:
- Watch Sean Faircloth discuss his book “Attack of the Theocrats” here.
- Visit A.C. Grayling’s website.
- Take a look at Pru Goward’s website, and read her views on the power of the churches opposing equal marriage.
- Watch Fr. Frank Brennan discussing the Royal Commission into Child Abuse; his views about mandatory reporting; and take a look at an associated petition here.
- If you want to keep up-to-date with information regarding Sean’s tour, don’t forget to join the “Sean Faircloth in Australia and New Zealand” Facebook group!
The 3rd AGM of the Freethought Student Alliance will be held on:
Tuesday February 12th, 2013
At 8:00pm EDT (7:00pm EST, 7:30pm CDT & 5:00pm WST).
The AGM will be held online via Google+ Hangout, with members and affiliated groups able to view and participate in the meeting via our official YouTube Channel.
The meeting will consist of a report by the President, Secretary and Treasurer as well as the election of the executive committee and state convenors.
Jason Ball, President of the Freethought Student Alliance, has announced he will not be nominating for re-election, and said in a statement to members:
It is with both sadness and excitement that I announce that I will be stepping down as President of the Freethought Student Alliance at the upcoming AGM. It has been a pleasure to lead the organisation since its inception over the past three years and an honour to work alongside some of the brightest young people involved in the freethought movement today.
As you may know, I have been personally involved in a campaign calling on the Australian Football League (AFL) to do more to tackle homophobia. In 2013 I will be focusing my efforts in my new role as a Community Champion for No To Homophobia and also as an ambassador for beyondblue – the national depression initiative.
I also believe the time has come to inject new life and enthusiasm into the Freethought Student Alliance – so what better way to do that than to step aside and allow a new generation of leaders to stand up.
Nominations are open for the following positions, and expressions of interest are encouraged and can be sent to info [at] freethoughtalliance.org.au
- Fundraising Coordinator
- Online and Social Media Coordinator
- VIC Convenor
- NSW Convenor
- SA Convenor
- WA Convenor
- QLD Convenor
- ACT Convenor
- TAS Convenor
The Freethought Student Alliance are excited to be hosting an exclusive student-only luncheon with skeptic heavyweights DJ Grothe and Rebecca Watson as part of the 2012 National Skeptics Convention.
DJ Grothe is the currently the president of the James Randi Educational Foundation and formerly the Vice President and Director of Outreach Programs at the Center for Inquiry and host of the popular radio show and podcast Point of Inquiry. Rebecca Watson is the founder of Skepchick and co-hosts the infamous Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast. Both are huge advocates of the work that young people and student groups like yours contribute to the skeptical movement.
The luncheon will be held on Sunday 2nd of December is available free for all student ticket holders of the 2012 National Skeptics Convention.
Tickets for the convention are still available, and single-day tickets have also just been released. To purchase tickets to the convention click here.
To register for this exclusive event, please send your full name as well as the University or high school you attend to email@example.com
[ANNOUNCEMENT: The Victorian Skeptics are looking for volunteers for the Australian Skeptics National Convention to be held from 30th Nov - 2nd Dec 2012. Speakers include James Randi, DJ Grothe, Brian Thompson and Rebecca Watson. To express interest please email president [at] freethoughtalliance.org.au]
Click to purchase tickets:
Article by Lawrence Money re-posted from The Age
‘ONE of the weirdest claims,” says international psychic-buster James Randi, ”was the woman who said she had the power to make men urinate when she willed it. One of our employees volunteered for the job and downed a lot of water … he sat there for something like three hours and nothing happened. The woman was so surprised and said: ‘You know it’s never failed before’.”
Randi, the burr under the seers’ saddle, the fly in psychics’ ointment, has long offered $1 million to anyone who can conclusively prove paranormal powers. It has remained unclaimed. Now 84, he is heading for Melbourne, the star speaker at the annual convention of the Australian Skeptics in Carlton next month.
He is no stranger Down Under. In 1980 he teamed with entrepreneur Dick Smith to dangle a $40,000 prize before a group of self-proclaimed water diviners – but their dowsing rods ran dry. The same year, in one of Australian TV’s classic moments (now on YouTube), pro-psychic TV host Don Lane told Randi to ”piss off” during his variety show. In 1988, assisted by some dodgy media releases, Randi teamed with 60 Minutes to fool the Australian media with a hoax about Carlos, a supposed spirit channeller.
From Los Angeles yesterday, Randi said he had calls from all over the world after Lane died in 2009. In the past six years he has undergone a coronary bypass and surgery for cancer. ”I told them: no acupuncture, no witchdoctors, no chanting. They used that thing you might have heard about over there – medical science.”
Randi heads the James Randi Educational Foundation in LA and is the subject of a documentary, An Honest Liar, being filmed in California. The movie, and a smaller TV version, will detail the fate of Jose Alvarez, the man who played ”Carlos” in the Australian hoax.
Venezuelan-born Alvarez was arrested late last year. ”He has an immigration problem,” said Randi. ”He is a gay person and had taken the identity of an American citizen to escape bad treatment by police and family back home.” Randi said Alvarez was jailed for a short time and is awaiting a decision on his fate from homeland security.
Randi said people were still gullible, just as they were in 1980 when he and Smith tested the water diviners. ”They all failed miserably, not one had a significant result, but afterwards all said they still believed they had dowsing powers.”
Victorian Skeptics president Terry Kelly said the Australian convention would run over three days. He said people’s claims to the paranormal were not only unproven, but often pointless. ”Even if you could bend spoons,” Kelly says, ”what’s the use of it?”
Friday 13 April, 2012
Level 5, Suite 1
Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre
11:45 am – Registration Opens
12:00 noon – Lunch
1:00 pm- Introduction, Jason Ball, President Freethought Student Alliance
1:05 – Michael Boyd, Vice President Atheist Foundation of Australia
1:10 – Rosslyn Ives, President Council of Australian Humanist Societies
1:15 – Lyz Liddell, Campus Organiser Secular Student Alliance
“Hands-off Leadership: Leading by getting everyone else to do the work”
1:45 – Student Presentations
Olivia Lesslar – Bond University Rationalists Secularists and Thinkers (BURST)
Sean Jelínek – University of South Australia Secular Society
Ash Tyndall & Madge Carew-Hopkins- University of Western Australia Atheist & Agnostics Society
Reidar P. Lystad – Macquarie University Atheist Society
2:15 – Break
2:25 - Debbie Goddard – Director Center For Inquiry On Campus
“CFI – Past, Present, Future”
3:10 – Chris Stedman – Interfaith Coorindator Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy
“Working with religious groups” lecture + workshop
3:55 – Close of event with Jason Ball
The 2012 Global Atheist Convention is going to be a truly amazing event. That’s why we’re going. But the cost of travelling and accommodation, if you’re not living in Melbourne already, is (to understate it) expensive. For students and young people, particularly those studying full-time without full-time income, they simply can’t afford it.
For many at University, The God Delusion and God is Not Great were released during their teenage years, and were a crucial catalyst in their development as skeptical, enlightened people. Many have broken free from their superstitious upbringings and communities into a community of critical and academic inquiry. The chance for these students to hear the world’s most prominent thinkers in person, and the chance for what may be the first time in their lives to be part of a huge gathering of inspiring and inspired minds from across continents, all energised by the spirit of rational and free thought, is a chance that comes once in a lifetime. After all, the sense of optimism we feel from what the GAC will accomplish will be the world the next generations will inherit. We want to make sure they can be there in the first place.
Any event benefits from the enthusiasm and verve that young, inchoate minds bring. Half of the deepest rewards that come from any of such events are the people that you meet, and for youth the relationships they will forge at the GAC will last for many decades and across generations. Students are outnumbered on campuses all over Australia by religious groups that make their collective presence felt as much as possible. The chance to encounter a huge, global community of other enlightened students from around the country and the world is a phenomenal one that no student wants to miss.
So to cover the one remaining obstacle, the Freethought Student Alliance has set up a fund for donations, 100% of which will be used to help students from interstate cover the great costs of transport, as well as for tickets. Without assistance, these students simply won’t be able to make it.
To donate, simply direct transfer into the Freethought Student Alliance bank account, and email scottsharrad [at] freethoughtalliance.org.au for a receipt. (PayPal coming soon)
Name: Australian Freethought Student Alliance
The next Dawkins or Hitchens is out there, and we want you to bump into them at the GAC.
I had an amazing time at both the 2010 GAC and FSA event. It wasn’t just an opportunity to hear some amazing and inspiring atheists, but also lots of fun hanging out with like-minded (and some unlike-minded) people, making new friends and having a great time.
- Jeremy O’Wheel, former President at University of Tasmania Atheist Society
My experience of speaking in front of the FSA at the last GAC was both educational and heartening. I learned a lot about running a democratic group, but more than that, to go from being a lone voice in an apathetic wilderness to feeling part of a legitimate tribe gave me a much needed energy boost to continue with my efforts to raise awareness on campus about issues surrounding secularism. The more students who are able to attend future such events, the more the secularist message will get out there.
- Emily Vicendese, former President at La Trobe University Secular Society
The GAC 2010 provided me with an experience like no other. As a young adult my opinions on the world were (and hopefully are) still changing and forming. The GAC provided a proverbial smorgasboard of tasty intellectual tidbits and morsels, combined with a veritable feast of ideas provided by today’s top intellectuals across the fields of politics, science, and the humanities. The GAC is, in my opinion a misnomer. While ostensibly a convention for Atheists on Atheism the GAC would be better reffered to as a celebration of secular ideas – no two speakers where the same (indeed, I would go so far as to say no two attendees had similar opinions) when I saw them, and several (Phillip Adams in particular) have left indelible impressions upon my philosophies. So, the GAC – come for the Atheism and comraderie, but stay for ability to expand your mind and philosphies in bold new directions and temper and mould your own ideas in the fire of intellectual rigour and debate with your fellow attendees – a proverbial Aristotelian school of thought.
- Alex Holmes, former President ANU League of Extraordinary Atheists
There is no doubt that Orientation Week is the most important event on the calendar for any student group when it comes to recruiting new members and setting the foundation for a great year.
Here are some tips to help you make the most of O-Week:
- Have your first event for the year planned and have a handout ready
- Prepare your volunteers with answers to expected FAQs
- Take photos! Lots of photos!
As promised, we’ve got Tabling Packs packed and ready to ship your way. Inside them you will find:
- Placebo Bands
- Darwin “Very Gradual Change” posters
- Freethought University Alliance Fliers
- Global Atheist Convention posters/fliers
- Young Australian Skeptics business cards
If you’re a student leader and your state convenor has not yet been in touch to extract a postal address, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a name, address and that date of your Orientation Week/Day.
The 2012 Global Atheist Convention is rapidly approaching and many students from around Australia are looking for a place to stay in Melbourne. The Freethought University Alliance is coordinating a couch surfing arrangement to provide students from around the country with a free place to sleep each night of the convention. With the price of registration and travel combined, the cost to attend the convention is already a challenge for many students. However, your kind offer of free accommodation for the weekend could make all the difference. If you as a fellow student, or a member of the atheist community have the ability to open up your home for a University student from elsewhere in Australia, we’d love to hear from you. Just fill out the form on our “Got a Couch?” page and we’ll be in contact with you when we have someone who may wish to stay with you.
If you are a University student from regional Victoria or interstate you can fill out the form on our “Need a Couch?” page. We will do our best to find you someone to stay with in Melbourne who is attending the convention.
Please know that we cannot guarantee accommodation for anyone. Even the matching of individuals does not guarantee accommodation. We are just facilitating the swapping of contact details, the final decision concerning whether or not to stay with an individual in Melbourne or to have an interstate student stay with you is your decision. As such we suggest you should ensure you are comfortable with the situation by corresponding via numerous means such as email, telephone, or Skype.
SkeptiCamps are informal, community-organized conferences borne from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. Everyone from casual skeptics to the experienced participate, give talks and get to know each other. Above, members of the University of Melbourne Secular Society outside the Redmond Barry Lecture Theatre, where they co-hosted Melbourne Skepticamp this weekend. The event follows a Australia’s first Skepticamp held in Sydney earlier in the year. A third Skepticamp will be held on the regional coast of Victoria in January next year. The Melbourne event has broken all previous attendance records in the history of Skepticamps, with over 150 people attending. To find out more information about Skepticamp Open Events head to http://www.skepticamp.com/