Perfect Pitch – the Australian summer season

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PPemailheadersydneyKapacity.org is delighted to collaborate with Speech Pathology Tasmania to deliver Perfect Pitch this summer in Australia – in Hobart, Sydney and Launceston.

Perfect Pitch is an intensive professional development initiative that helps participants transform their effective communication when speaking to groups. It breaks down anxiety, builds confidence and enhances poise.

This Australian summer season of Perfect Pitch is open to women from any background or sector – who are motivated to improve their professional impact through better spoken presentation.

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Our timing couldn’t be better.

Gender equity is a first-order challenge for workplaces in Australia – lagging behind other developed nations in terms of key benchmarks. Former Australian army chief David Morrison has just been recognised as Australian of the Year – for his proactive commitment to put gender and wider diversity at the top of the national agenda. And Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull has called for a ‘cultural shift’ to improve respect for women.

A confident and authentic voice is a key practical step towards achieving fair outcomes at work and beyond.

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Perfect Pitch is presented by prominent speaker Natasha Cica of Kapacity.org, recognised by the Australian Financial Review and Westpac as one of Australia’s 100 Women of Influence – who has extensive experience as a professional communicator across corporate, public sector, community and educational sectors; with leading speech pathologist and voice therapist Rosalie Martin of Speech Pathology Tasmania, who is passionate about working with adults and children to improve and perfect their communication skills.

Our workshop guests include a diverse range of experts in governance and public administration, law, finance, agribusiness, broadcasting, culture, education and more.

Register now for Perfect Pitch in Hobart (10-11 February), Sydney (22 February) or Launceston (4 March).

Places are limited to 15 participants per workshop.

Perfect Pitch is delivered with the generous support of Avalon Retreats, Stillwater, Fairfax Media’s AFR BOSS, and the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia.

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Doing the diaspora #1

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I was born and raised in Tasmania, an island at the bottom of the world.

It’s a stunningly beautiful place that’s long spawned distinctive creativity, bold improvisation and inspiring resourcefulness. Most recently, the arrival of the privately-funded Museum of Old + New Art (MONA) – currently hosting Private Archaeology by Belgrade-born New Yorker Marina Abramovic – has drawn wide and deserved attention to Tasmania’s ‘cut through’ potential in the twenty-first century.

That future may be alluring – but the backdrop is that Tasmania is also a geographically isolated, sparsely populated, relatively monocultural and persistently economically (and educationally) challenged society. That cluster of push factors meant many of the best and brightest of the people I grew up with didn’t stay in Tasmania, like many before and since.

Point of departure – the tarmac at Hobart airport
Point of departure – the tarmac at Hobart airport

They went to live and work in other places … seeking out better jobs, more opportunity and vibrant competition, different adventure.

And that was just the start of their stories …

Recently The Mercury newspaper commissioned me to write a series of feature articles for its TasWeekend magazine about some of those offshore Tasmanians.

Here are the opening profiles – Nick Boyd (founder of AidNet, connecting Angola and Melbourne), Frances The (a concert violinist now based in Amsterdam), and Tadhg Muller (a writer now living in London).

For more writing about and by Tasmania’s expats, repats and downhomers, see the bestselling Griffith REVIEW: Tasmania – The Tipping Point?, which I co-edited with Julianne Schultz in 2013. Watch a discussion I anchored at Melbourne’s Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas with three of the talented contributors to this issue – Favel Parrett, Scott Rankin and Jo Chandler.

Future Leadership masterclass with Alex Cameron of Socia

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On 9 July 2015, Kapacity.org delivered an inspiring masterclass called ‘Future Leadership – Collaborative Solutions to Wicked Problems?’.

The masterclass was held in downtown Belgrade – at Beograđanka, which is a great space for civic events. The key speaker was Alex Cameron of Socia, a London-based expert in collaborative leadership. Alex has extensive experience in the oil and gas sector and in other contexts where people know they must collaborate to arrive at a better result. Their motivation to collaborate is not just about ‘doing the right thing’ – it delivers better business in terms of profit, employment and sustainability of ventures.

This dialogue-based, interdisciplinary and intensive event was attended by a diverse cross-section of local young people and mid-career professionals.


Kapacity.org director Natasha Cica was delighted to ‘co-create’ this event with entrepreneurial young Serbs – including Nataša Gligorijević who founded the New Diplomacy Centre here in Belgrade, and Kosta Živanović who is President of the University Club for UNESCO.

The event was formally opened by educator Yves Lopez (visiting from France) and Aleksandar Protić, representing the French Federation for UNESCO.

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Read media reports in English or Serbian.

2015 opens with more questions about crisis, change and values

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As this new year opened, Paris and the wider world were stunned by violent attacks related to cartoons published by French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Debate’s still raging about the meaning and limits of free speech, tolerance, extremism and decency in the 21st century.
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There seem to be no simple answers. But perhaps there are new questions to ask about how we negotiate diversity and disagreement – against a backdrop of which values, and whose values?

As 2014 drew to a close, Saturday Extra – one of the flagship ‘think spaces’ of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National network – broadcast a program about the moral challenges facing the world today.

Broadcaster Geraldine Doogue anchored a dialogue between British-based writer, lecturer and broadcaster Kenan Malik; philosopher Philip Pettit, Professor of Politics and Human Values at Princeton University; and me as director of Kapacity.org and Adjunct Professor at the Australian National University.

If we were recording this program today, would we say the same things?

ANU College of Law address on crisis, change and ‘being good’

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This week I delivered the graduation address for the ANU College of Law, at the Australian National University in Canberra.

With Professor Stephen Bottomley, Dean, ANU College of Law
With Professor Stephen Bottomley, Dean, ANU College of Law

This was a special opportunity to reflect on the conditions and qualities that enable people to drive and deliver constructive change.

ANU Chancellor Gareth Evans addresses the ceremony
ANU Chancellor Gareth Evans addresses the ceremony

It was a real delight to return to the educational institution which set me up in such a great way for my own adult life and career, in Australia and beyond.

I wrote and presented this graduation address against the confronting backdrop of a hostage crisis in Sydney, which challenged many Australians’ assumptions about certainty and security.

Crisis often leads to reactive change that people wouldn’t otherwise choose.

How does ‘being good’ help us respond in a way that leads to more positive outcomes?

With the family of  ANU College of Law graduate Alisa Draskovic and Zoran Marinkovic of the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia
With the family of ANU College of Law graduate Alisa Draskovic and Zoran Marinkovic of the Embassy of the Republic of Serbia

Cracking nuts and making lemonade (starring MONA’s David Walsh)

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Sitting at the edge of civilisation, Tasmania is a remote island – ‘So exotic!’ exclaim my European friends – that’s still pretty much off the global map.

Even if Chinese President Xi Jinping is coming to visit next week, with a clutch of potential investors … and this weekend a glamour-glob of celebrity food and wine personalities (including Heston Blumenthal, Alice Waters and Maggie Beer, with British writer A. A. Gill thrown in for good measure) are descending on the jurisdiction for a $1.5 million Tourism Australia Restaurant Australia gala event … and despite the delight of Tasmania’s capital city Hobart hosting one of the most vibrant cultural platforms in the Western world, the privately-owned Museum of Old and New Art (MONA).

Photo credit Virginia Gordon
Photo credit Virginia Gordon
In larger Australia, Tasmania tends to be typecast as mendicant on public money, bristling with gatekeepers set on preserving the status quo in their own self-interest, and chronically underperforming on most socio-economic, health and education metrics.

There’s a lot of truth in that stereotype. Tasmania’s a tough nut for change agents.

Because Kapacity.org advances effective and sustainable change – and I’m back in Tasmania right now, working with some great new clients – currently I’m focused on smarter support for … the nut crackers.

Here’s one point for reflection and action: When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

More and more I notice that many cut-through change agents have started out being dealt what a gambler might call a fairly bad hand.

Tasmanian-born David Walsh – the founder of the Museum of Old + New Art, who also happens to be a gambler – is one example. You can read David’s new autobiography to find out more about the many lemons in his backstory.

Or listen to him broadcast last night on ABC Radio National – from a sell-out performance with Phillip Adams at Sydney’s Seymour Centre – where David kindly reminded everyone that I once called him a ‘collapsed Catholic’.

I certainly appreciated that generous mention.

But what I liked most was listening to David telling his own tale, recounting the recipe for – and philosophy behind – producing his own, specific, weird and fizzing lemonade.

Through MONA and its various spinoffs, David has now provoked a lot of people to think differently about culture, money and risk. (Especially, I hope, younger Tasmanians.) He also now engages a pretty big, kick-ass and eclectic audience. MONA’s widely credited with pulling Tasmania onto Lonely Planet’s hit list of places worth visiting, and with pumping $100 million plus into Tasmania’s long-sluggish economy.

All this could add up to be the hefty edge of the wedge that really gets Tasmania on the radar, and truly opens its capacity to connect and compete.

But do we all really need to experience some kind of collapse – to be able to squeeze those lemons, and crack those nuts, for all they’re fully worth?

Photo credit Baileys Christmas Nutcracker campaign 2013
Photo credit Baileys Christmas Nutcracker campaign 2013

Cultural leader Max Angus turns 100 … still dreaming of a lake

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Tasmanian watercolour painter Max Angus turns 100 years old today.

I was privileged to meet Max in 2005 while I was beginning to think about my first book,

Pedder Dreaming – Olegas Truchanas and a Lost Tasmanian Wilderness
(UQP, 2011). Max was one of a group of Tasmanian watercolour artists who worked with explorer, photographer and post-World War II Lithuanian emigre Olegas Truchanas to try to save Lake Pedder – a glacial lake with pink sand in Tasmania’s remote south-west – from inundation by a hydro-electric scheme in the early 1970s.

Max Angus at the launch of Pedder Dreaming, 2011
Max Angus at the launch of Pedder Dreaming, 2011

Here are some words from Max from my first interview with him. They didn’t all make it into the book.

I think it was once said, the greatest thing about a work of art is that which cannot be put into words. I’d say the same about Olegas. You can’t put it into words any more than I have done there – the incorruptible man, who passes into legend. I think if you take the Australian as a type – the Anglosaxon or Celtic Australian – he’s always outside. Olegas was inside.

Olegas [said] to me one day, ‘Max, I want you to do me a painting of Lake Pedder – I want a dream of Pedder – anybody can take a photograph, but an artist can give me a dream of Pedder.’ So I did it, and gave it to him. And he wanted to pay for it and I said, ‘No, you are Lake Pedder for us,’ and he said, ‘Well then I will take your painting, gratefully, because that is your work, but I must pay for the frame.’ He said, ‘I am not what Australians call a bludger – I must pay for the frame.’ That was Olegas.

‘I want to paint some dreams of the Derwent, and Hobart, and Mount Wellington. I’ve already done a fair bit of that in watercolours. And of course I’m still painting Lake Pedder. As it was …’

… and he still is.

On Friday 31 October at 17h, a new exhibition of works by Max Angus and his lifelong painting collaborator Patricia Giles opens at Colville Gallery, Hobart.

Copies of Pedder Dreaming will also be available.

Kapacity.org talks to former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard

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In October 2014, Kapacity.org director Natasha Cica anchored a sell-out event featuring former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard – an hour-long conversation in Adelaide Town Hall focused on Gillard’s new book, My Story.

The discussion was followed by a lively Q&A session with the capacity crowd.
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