Max Charlesworth Oration

Max Charlesworth (1925–2014) was a founding Patron of Foundation House.

His support was invaluable in establishing a service for survivors of torture and trauma in Victoria. We are indebted to Max and proud to have been his friend.

Max was an esteemed philosopher and bioethicist as well as a thoughtful, dignified and intellectually courageous man. In honour of Max, we have named our annual mid-year event the Max Charlesworth Oration.

The Oration, which began in 2006, was originally conceived to mark both Refugee Week and the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

Each year, the Oration brings together many who are committed to human rights. Since 2006, we have been privileged to hear the thoughts and expertise of a number of esteemed speakers.

Previous Orators:


The Magnitsky Act and sanctioning human rights abusers

Bill Browder

Head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign


Racism and how hate speech is affecting our society

Tim Soutphommasane

Professor of Practice, The University of Sydney

Former Race Discrimination Commissioner and author


From the global to the local-protecting and promoting the rights of refugees and migrants in a time of unprecedented forced displacement

Dr Helen Szoke AO

Chief Executive of Oxfam Australia


No oration: 30th anniversary celebrations


Tackling hard ethical issues calmly: Max Charlesworth, Bioethics, Refugees and Sexuality

The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG

International jurist, educator and former judge

Former Justice of the High Court of Australia


Preventing Mass Atrocities: Ethical, but Practical?

Professor Spencer Zifcak

Allan Myers Professor of Law and Research Coordinator

Thomas More Academy of Law, Australian Catholic University


Inaugural Max Charlesworth Oration:

The challenges of global forced displacement in the current era

Ms Erika Feller

Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow

School of Government, The University of Melbourne

Former UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner for Protection


What Prospects for the Pursuit of Global Justice

Professor Tim McCormack

Professor of Law

Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne

Special Adviser on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court in The Hague


Regional Challenges in Refugee Protection: A UNHCR Reflection

Mr Richard Towle

Regional Representative for Australia, NZ, PNG and the Pacific, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)


Asylum seekers and detention, what are the human rights challenges?

The Hon Catherine Branson QC

President of the Australian Human Rights Commission and Human Rights Commissioner


Exploring the dynamics of Australian policies towards asylum seekers and refugees: Reflections of an insider

Mr Petro Georgiou MP

Member for Kooyong


Making international refugee law relevant again

Professor James C Hathaway

Dean of Law

Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne


A Journalist’s view on the return of torture

Mr Martin Flanagan



No oration: 20th anniversary celebrations


The Hon Lex Lasry QC

Former barrister and Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria

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