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Sambell Oration

Page history last edited by Social Policy Library 2 years, 6 months ago

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The Sambell Oration is delivered each year by a guest speaker.


Named after former Brotherhood executive director, Geoffrey Sambell, the event reflects his vision for social justice and provides a forum for community leaders to discuss topical issues.


GEOFFREY TREMAYNE SAMBELL was born in Broadford, Victoria in 1 9 1 4 and later attended Melbourne Boys High School. His leadership qualities were recognised when he was selected for the Lord Somers Camp, after which he played rugby with Powerhouse. This fostered his interest in young people and led him into a leadership role in the Church of England Boys Society. During a short but promising business career he was involved with St Mark’s Social Settlement during the 1930s. He was then called to the ministry and he entered Ridley College and was ordained in 1 9 4 0 . After serving a curacy at St John’s East Malvern he served with great distinction as a Chaplain with the Australian Military Forces, both in the 57/60 and 2/11 battalions in New Guinea where he was mentioned in despatches. After the war he completed his B.A. at Melbourne University. In 1 9 4 7 he tf/as appointed Director of the Melbourne Diocesan Centre, a coordinated multi-parish and chaplaincy venture based in the inner city. While in that position he was appointed as Archdeacon of Essendon in 1 9 5 5 and Archdeacon of Melbourne in 1 9 6 1 when he became for a time the Director of Home Missions. In the midst of his Diocesan responsibilities, and his leadership of the Brotherhood of St Laurence he was also Warden of the Mission to Streets and Lanes, and involved in other welfare activities including the Victorian Council of Social Service. He was consecrated Bishop in St Paul’s Cathedral Melbourne on 24th February 1 9 6 2 and subsequently enthroned \ Archbishop of Perth in 19 6 9 . He died in December 1 9 8 0 after an outstanding Episcopate in Western Australia and throughout the national church. The G. T. Sambell Memorial Oration has been established by the Brotherhood of St Laurence to commemorate his work. His connection with the Brotherhood was longstanding and arose out of his deep social concern which had been the chief among the several forces which led him into full-time service of the church. He had great organising ability, recognised by Fr Tucker who invited him to join the Brotherhood in 1 9 4 9 . He was firstly involved as a member of the Board of Directors, then as^Bursar, Director of Social Services and in 1 9 5 6 Director and Deputy Chairman of the Board. Later in the 1 9 6 0 s he became Chairman of the Board, a post he retained until he moved to Perth. Geoffrey Sambell was a big man, in body, mind and spirit. Long before he died (at the early age of 66) his influence had been felt far and wide in the Anglican Communion and in the ecumenical movement beyond. He twice represented the Australian Church at the East Asia Christian Conference, and was the representative of South-East Asia on the Executive Officer’s Advisory Committee of the Lambeth Consultative Body. In Australia he was the dynamic Chairman of the General Synod Social Responsibilities Commission, which under his leadership spoke out for the national church on social questions. He was respected and listened to by Government at both State and Federal levels, and in 1 9 7 8 he was appointed Chairman of the Federal Government’s Social Welfare Advisory Committee.


He was a forceful character who could, and sometimes did, ride roughshod over opposition, backing his judgment and knowing that he was right. But behind the bluff exterior he had the heart of a pastor who never spared himself for anyone, clergyman or layman, who needed his help. He had vision, but it was a very ‘down to earth’ vision; he was a loyal Anglican but at the same time a wholehearted ecumenist; he was a missioner and a missionary, but spumed paternalism or ecclesiastical triumphalism; he was an ordained priest, but no one welcomed the rediscovered ‘priesthood’ of the laity more than he did or had more friends amongst them. Leader, pastor, organiser, financier — he was all these, but much more, a man of God.

SOURCE: Why care? An attempt to state the theological basis for Christian social action: Introduction Archbishop Sir Frank Woods, 1981.


Click here for a full list of speakers and their topics.  Where available, text of their Orations is available at the links below:



Why care? An attempt to state the theological basis for Christian social action.  Archbishop Sir Frank Woods



God, people and resources. A Christian comment on the values of the Australian society Bishop Oliver Heyward



 Educating for justice. A conversation with the church about its life and gospel Denham Grierson



Giving and receiving: the framework of social support for individuals and families Jean McCaughey



 Ancient laws and dilemmas David Scott



Parish piety and public pragmatism Bishop Michael Challen



Be it ever so humble... There’s no place like home Peter Hollingworth



Leadership and vision in social action: when the dream expires, can the vision survive? Robert Dann



“Lucky St George” or “Knowing what it is” Christianity and the current crisis  by Veronica Brady, at the Brotherhood’s 59th Foundation Day Festival service (December)



  • There was no Sambell oration in 1990.



Renewing the Commonwealth Hon. Brian Howe



The Future of Work Hon Barry Jones



Work: An Aboriginal perspective Lillian Holt



Grand beliefs – radical responses Michael Challen



What happened to compassion? Professor Stuart MacIntyre (August)



Poor Laws of 1834 and 1996 Hugh Stretton



Welfare after the welfare state: Reimagining Social Christianity Dr Trevor Hogan



Economic efficiency and social harmony  Fred Argy



Vision for Australia (unpublished speech) Janet Holmes a’Court



The role of the welfare sector in advancing the position of Aboriginal people in the broader Australian community Marjorie Thorpe



Wake-up Australia; The new world order: The human dimension Honourable Justice Marcus Einfeld (October)



Making Australia a poverty-free zone Nic Frances (October)

Sambell_Oration_2002_Frances_Background.pdf  Sambell_Oration_2002_Frances_visuals.pdf



Discovering soul work: my personal journey Rosalind Copisarow (October)



“…and where are we now? Thoughts on the 2004 election”   Robert Manne (October)



Keeping governments on track to end child poverty: the role of advocacy and activism Kate Green (December)



Rights and responsibilities: towards a genuinely Australian understanding Geoff Gallop (August)



Social policy in a ‘fully employed’ economy Saul Eslake (September)



Climate change as an equity issue Professor Ross Garnaut  (November)



One year on from the crisis: economic and social policy challenges for Australia  The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP, Prime Minister of Australia



Towards an Inclusive Society  Emeritus Professor Ruth Lister  (October)



Shared Prosperity by Jennifer Westacott



A Tale of Two Melbournes? The Disparities of Place and How to Bridge The Divide. Professor Roz Hansen 




Social Policies for Tougher Times Professor Paul Smyth 



  • There was no Sambell Oration in 2014



The Common Good Lord Maurice Glasman  



The genesis of the NDIS : bringing competing agendas together Rhonda Galbally 



  • There was no Sambell Oration in 2017 



Strong and Smart Investing in Indigenous Children Chris Sarra  



The case for an emissions and employment accord Jenny Macklin 


   For alternative links to Sambell orations, visit the BSL website.


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