First virtual Hillier Lecture draws a crowd

In the first virtual Nancy Hillier Memorial Lecture, researchers from UNSW took part in a revealing roundtable discussion on issues surrounding NSW’s Botany Bay, where Nancy Hillier campaigned tirelessly on behalf of people and places.Nancy Hillier, pictured with Dame Marie Roslyn Bashir, former Governor of New South Wales, was awarded an OAM in 2006

The discussion on 22 October was an opportunity to reflect upon the broader lessons that can be learnt from the work done at UNSW addressing environmental, social, policy, water, planning, legal and urban issues around Botany Bay—and what these lessons might mean for new and existing interdisciplinary partnerships with Botany Bay’s communities.

Son of the late Nancy Hillier, Clive Hillier, provided some opening remarks, saying, ‘It’s now seven years since our mother passed away; her physical being is no longer with us but her achievements are all around us. Much of what we enjoy today, be it parklands, preserved historical buildings or tighter controls over industrial polluters can be attributed to her tireless and selfless work over many years, which has gone beyond the grave.”

The lecture was facilitated by John Carr, Senior Lecturer, Environment and Society, UNSW School of Humanities and Languages. Mr Carr said that while the original plan was to have a face-to-face event focusing on community activists and organisations in and around Botany Bay, the Coronavirus pandemic forced some last minute changes.  Nancy Hillier, OAM

 “While hosting a virtual event was not our first choice, this year’s event provided a really wonderful reminder of how many members of the UNSW community are deeply involved with the environments and people of Botany Bay.  One of the things I enjoyed most  about the 2020 Hillier Lecture was recognising how much work was being done in such different areas as water, biology, law, urban planning, and environmental history—and how much the researchers doing that work had to offer each other." 

Rountable panellists included Ian Tyrrell, Emeritus Professor, Environmental Historian and Author of "River Dreams: The people and landscape of the Cooks River”; Sharyn Cullis, Georges River Environmental Alliance and Recent UNSW PhD Graduate; Emma Golledge, Director, Kingsford Legal Centre, UNSW Law; James Weirick, Professor and Director of the Urban Development and Design Program, UNSW; Anne Maree Kreller, Scientia PhD Candidate, expert on planning for sea level rise in the Botany Bay Area and Author of  "Fair for whom? How residents and municipalities evaluate sea level rise policies in Botany Bay, Australia"; and Suhelen Egan, Associate Professor, UNSW School of Biological Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES) and The Centre of Marine Science and Innovation (CMSI).  The panellists discussed numerous aspects ranging from sea life and the role of the indigenous rangers to sea level rise and the importance of serving the community.

In his closing remarks, James Weirick said, “Something of value has come out of the pandemic and that is peoples’ engagement with their place. I hope that that might motivate and inspire this new community that is emerging within the Botany Bay catchment.”

A full recording of the lecture is available on the Climactic Live podcast.

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