The Role of Tertiary Education in Fostering Harmony

Affinity Intercultural Foundation held its monthly lecture series on 25 August 2016 on the topic ‘The role of tertiary education in fostering harmony’. We were honoured to have Vice Chancellor of the University of Sydney Dr Michael Spence address over 60 guests from across the business sector, education sector and the wider community.

The program began with a special lunch for the guests followed by the official welcome by Professor Rosemary Johnston, member of Affinity’s advisory board. Professor Johnston introduced this month’s facilitator, Jan McClelland, Deputy Chancellor of the University of New England.

Dr Michael Spence presented a vivid an engaging talk on the need for universities to take more of an active role in instilling students with ‘softer’ social values as well as classic preparation for the workforce.

The informative lecture was opened up further in the Q&A session. The audience was very enthusiastic in their line of questioning and although time did not allow for all points to be addressed, Dr Spence provided quality responses across the board.

The program was concluded with a gift presentation from Jeremey Fernandez, journalist at ABC News 24, presenting Dr Spence with an engraved classic Turkish vase on behalf of Affinity.

Affinity would like to thank all of the attendees and specially thank Galaxy Foundation for sponsoring the event.

Next month’s lecture will be presented by Dr Elizabeth Coombs, Privacy Commissioner of NSW on 21 September 2016 and she will be covering the topic ‘What’s happening – or not – in privacy?’



Abraham Conference 2016

21ST August 2016

Affinity Intercultural Foundation together with their partners the Jewish Board of Deputies, Uniting Church of Australia and Columban Mission Institute co-hosted the 2016 Abraham Conference: Hate Speech and Violence at the Parramatta Mission Fellowship Hall on Sunday 21 August 2016.

Affinity together with its partners was pleased to welcome over 100 guests from across the business sector, education sector and the wider community. Some notable attendees are MPs Jihad Dib and Julie Owen and the Grand Mufti of Australia Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed.

We were honoured to have Rabbi Dr Benjamin Elton deliver the keynote address on how hate speech and violence are intricately linked and the damages they can cause communities.

Following Dr Elton’s address, we were pleased to hear from our esteemed panellists Ari Lander, Dr Ghena Krayem, Fr Claude Mostowik, Julie Nathan, Rev. Tara Curlewis and Shk Haisam Farache on a range of topics including the effect of hate speech on their individual communities and the solutions presented to curb hate speech. At the conclusion of the program there was definitely a wider understanding of each other and the problems faced by all represented communities.

The proceedings were moderated seamlessly by David Knoll, A.M and it was a wonderful program enjoyed by all. Thank you to Kati, Briana and Manas for their efforts in organising the event and to everyone who attended.


Affinity Lecture Series: Dr Geoff Newcombe


Highlights from the event:

Dr Geoff Newcombe raised some important points on the emerging issues in the Independent Education Sector. In the last 15 years, the Government Sector in Education has only
grown by 0.2% whereas the Independent Sector grew by a staggering 30%. Almost 4,000 new classrooms will be necessary in the next 15 years. This demand for future School Infrastructure is real and capital expenditure is simply not sustainable. There needs to be more effective and outright planning for funding, and increased pressure needs to be applied to governments, both local and federal, for better planning and financial contributions. He stated that it is important for independent school enrolments to increase, one of the reasons being that children do not vote, however their parents do. The idea of being able to financially invest so that both schools can grow as well as make a defensive investment in children’s education is important. There must also be more innovative ideas on school curricula as there are currently limits in terms of students not performing as well because they have not been challenged enough.


  • “It’s important for independent school enrolments to increase. Children do not vote but parents do and this in turn affects policy.”
  • “Money matters but it must be spent in an appropriate manner and the initiatives must be evaluated.”
  • “First emerging issue is research and data. Our response to this has been the establishment of the education research council.”
  • “The appetite for independent schools in Europe have grown with large revenues of approximately 57 billion.”
  • “Future school infrastructure demand is real. Capital expenditure is not sustainable.”



people_pir_JulieWALTONMs Walton is currently a sessional lecturer at the University of NSW. She is a Henry Halloran Trust practitioner in residence at the University of Sydney, a member of the Audit Committee at Wollondilly council. Furthermore she is a member of the Governance risk and audit committee of Shellharbour council. She has a strong background in Transport and urban policy, governance, and the achievement of negotiated outcomes. She was committed to the enhancement of public policy and legislative review as she was one of the two responsible consultants for the development of the Local government Act 1993. Julie is currently lecturing as well as developing and delivering the Ethics and Leadership components in the Master of Urban Policy and Strategy Program at the University of NSW.




1365786000000Dr Geoff Newcombe was appointed Executive Director of AISNSW (AIS) in January 2005. Prior to this he held the senior position of AIS Director of School Governance and Industrial Relations. Dr Newcombe commenced his teaching career in 1969 specialising in the areas of Mathematics, Chemistry and Physics. During his career he held a number of positions of responsibility culminating in appointments as Headmaster in two independent schools for a period of over ten years.

He moved from the school sector to the tertiary sector teaching in the Master of Educational Administration program at the University of New South Wales and in the School of Business at the University of Technology Sydney. He holds a PhD from the University of New South Wales and has published widely in the areas of school governance and management. In June 2006 he was appointed as a Visiting Fellow to the School of Education at the University of New South Wales and in 2011 was made an Honorary Professor.