Big Conversation a Big Success on the Fremantle Campus!

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Fall 3-4-2008

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



‘The Economics of Charities – Who Cares?’ was the theme of the recent University of Notre Dame Australia Conversations on Tap seminar. The seminar series is held four times each academic year and attendance is open to the public, to students of the University and to academics – indeed anyone interested in topical and important issues.

The seminar series is held in a discussion format which seeks to explore the role business has in working for and creating more just communities. This year the series will explore the role that business plays in the areas of health, nursing and arts and sciences in four separate evenings.

Associate Dean and Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor David Gilchrist explains, “The events take the form of three speakers giving a short presentation, engaging a current issue within their fields, followed by 25 minutes of open floor questions and discussion, followed by an opportunity to meet the speakers and participants over food and drinks. Western Australian winery, Hackersley Estate, is the series sponsor and we greatly appreciate their contribution toward what is fast becoming an institution in Fremantle.”

The first Conversation on Tap ‘The Economics of Charity - Who Cares’ engaged the topic of charity on several levels. Associate Professor Gilchrist gave an introduction into the history of economics and the systems which are in place to address not for profit governance. He sought to explore the current motivations and models of corporate governance within the not-for-profit and charity sector and to identify what he saw as weaknesses within the system which work to the detriment of our civil society.

Dr C Lucy Morris, Chief Executive Officer of Community Vision Inc. and Adjunct Professor of Management at the School of Business, at Notre Dame’s Fremantle Campus explored the history of who traditionally has taken up the work of charity. She gave a feminist critique of the ‘work of charity’ and how it has traditionally been seen as women’s work. Part of her contention was that the work of women in this sector is undervalued in the financial sense. She also suggested that it is under appreciated when it comes to seeking input on overall systems that look to rectify systemic issues involved with aspects of society where charity work is focused.

Mr Jack De Groot, the Chief Executive Officer of Caritas Australia, discussed the ways that Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) work and the challenges of competing in the market place and needing to grow in order to survive. He discussed some of the reasoning that leads to decisions in the NGO sector and the ways in which different organisations work. One of the key aspects of his presentation focused on how including the disadvantaged in society is important and how their participation can fundamentally change the way communities work. Mr De Groot pointed to one specific case of a double amputee in Bangladesh who with some basic support, initially just a tri-cycle, gave him the ability to get out into the community and acquire the skills he needed to open his own business and support himself and his family.

The presentation was attended by a variety of students, staff, community organisation members, neighbours of the University and other interested parties. The questions from the floor spanned the social context of justice work at present - “Is it just cool to care at the moment?” What role can a business school play in shaping people with an ethical framework? How does the governmental bureaucracy of the day discourage people from getting involved in their communities?

The informal discussion continued well past the advertised 8pm cut off mark and hopefully the inaugural crowd is both hungry and thirsty for the rest of the series!

For more information about the ‘Conversations on Tap’ series, please contact Campus Minister, Tom Gannon on 9433 0629.