Dr Hugh Mackay to present Activist of the Year Award and call for a more compassionate society at the Ngara Institute Annual Lecture

Will Steffen and Lesley Hughes from the Climate Council will receive the Australian Activist of the Year Award at the Ngara Institute’s Annual Lecture to be delivered by Dr Hugh Mackay.

The Award will be presented by one of Australia’s national treasures, social researcher Dr Hugh Mackay, who will be the keynote speaker for the Ngara Institute’s Annual Lecture to be held in Mullumbimby on 20 July.

Dr Mackay has dedicated his life to uncovering what makes Australians tick. The best-selling author and renowned social researcher shine a light on who we are, how we live, the relationships we create, and the thread of our social fabric.


Dr Hugh Mackay’s Australia reimagined

Join Ngara Institute and Hugh MacKay to delve into the social and cultural shifts, both big and small, that have spread through society over the past few generations, creating increasing distrust, disillusionment and fragmentation.

Last year Dr Mackay published his “most outspoken” book ever on a topic he is passionate about: rebuilding social cohesion. The title says it all: Australia Reimagined: Towards A More Compassionate, Less Anxious Society.

According to Dr Mackay, when it comes to our ecological, social, cultural and economic future, misplaced optimism is as dangerous as blind faith. What is needed is the courage to face the way things are, and the wisdom and imagination - informed by the best available evidence - to work out how to make things better.

Australia's unprecedented run of economic growth has failed to deliver a more stable or harmonious society. Individualism is rampant. Income inequality is growing. Public education is under-resourced. The gender revolution is stalling. We no longer trust our major institutions or our political leaders. We are more socially fragmented, more anxious, more depressed, more overweight, more medicated, deeper in debt and increasingly addicted - whether to our digital devices, drugs, pornography or 'stuff'.

Dr Mackay says the recent negative, dishonest and ruthlessly competitive election campaign did not help. A strong civil society depends on people genuinely engaging with each other in mutually respectful ways. It depends also on close, inclusive and supportive communities finding their way to common ground.

Despite a sense of doom and gloom he feels is prevailing in society, Dr Mackay is endlessly optimistic about what the future holds.

"Whenever I spend time with younger people, the much-maligned millennials, I think they are much better equipped to deal with the changes in society. They understand the need to work more cooperatively, to be less competitive, less individualistic. They are the keys to a better future."


Activists of the Year award, supported by Enova Community Energy

The evening will open with the presentation of the Australian Activist of the Year Award to Will Steffen and Lesley Hughes of the Climate Council. This Award is given with the support of Enova Community Energy.

“As an organisation created to disrupt to status quo in the energy industry, Enova is very pleased to support Ngara Institute’s ongoing efforts to recognise Australia’s activists who are at the forefront of pushing for and creating the right kind of change,” said Alison Cook AO, Enova Community Energy Chair.

“Will Stephen and Lesley Hughes have made vitally important contributions to understanding and addressing climate change. The Activist of the Year award is a wonderful achievement.

“And to have the opportunity to hear one of Australia’s pre-eminent social researchers speak, here in Mullumbimby, is an absolute gift to the community. Dr Mackay’s work points us all in the direction of connecting and collaborating to solve the issues we face today – and they are values at the very core of why Enova was formed in the first place,” she said.

Will Steffen will give a short talk, followed by Mayor Simon Richardson launching the Byron Shire Human Rights Charter, a co-creation after Ngara Institute’s 2018 Annual Lecture by Gillian Triggs.

professor lesley hughes

Professor Lesley Hughes is a Distinguished Professor of Biology and Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research Integrity & Development) at Macquarie University. Her research has mainly focused on the impacts of climate change on species and ecosystems.

She is a former federal Climate Commissioner and former Lead Author in the IPCC’s 4th and 5th Assessment Report. She is also a Director for WWF Australia, a member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, the Director of the Biodiversity Node for the NSW Adaptation Hub and a member of the expert advisory committee for Future Earth Australia.

Professor Will Steffen is a climate change expert and researcher at the Australian National University, Canberra. He was on the panel of experts supporting the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee, has served as the Science Adviser to the Australian Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, and was chair of the Antarctic Science Advisory Committee.

His research interests span a broad range within the fields of climate change and Earth System science, with an emphasis on sustainability, climate change and the Earth System. He is the author of numerous publications on climate science.

The Ngara Institute’s Ralph Summy Annual Lecture honours one of Australia’s leading peace, social justice and human rights scholars, Professor Ralph Summy, formerly the head of the Australian Peace and Conflict Studies Centre at the University of Queensland. His work advanced peace around the world recognised the struggles of Indigenous peoples, refugees and those impacted by wars.


Ngara Institute Annual Lecture Event Details

For an evening of intelligence, hope and insight join Ngara Institute at the Civic Memorial Hall, 55 Dalley St, Mullumbimby Saturday July 20 

from 5:30pm. Tickets on sale now.

More about the event:
5.30 p.m
Doors open for food and hot drinks
Heart-warming eats by Barrio Byron Bay
Hot drinks and sweet treats by Pure Melt

6pm – 7pm
Soulful tunes by Elena B Williams

7pm - 8:30pm
Guest speaker: Hugh MacKay
Activist of the Year 2019 Award: The Climate Council’s Will Steffen and Lesley Hughes

We hope to see you there!


Agriculture remains the key economic foundation of many rural and regional communities. In New South Wales alone 56,000 people are employed in agriculture and more than 26,000 farms use 58 million hectares of land.  

Yet, crops have already seen a drop in yields and some regional towns have seen significant reductions in population as direct results of climate change. This often results in further losses in available community services and increased regional and rural unemployment.

According to research conducted by the Climate Council, regional and rural communities are vulnerable to a wide range of impacts from our changing climate. Coping with these risks will require a concerted effort from all parties.  


How climate change is impacting Australian agriculture 

Agricultural patterns are changing and at the same time, the whole of New South Wales has been living with drought over recent years. While farmers and the communities around them come to terms with what’s happening on their farms, the toll on mental health is increasing.  

Climate is the key determinant of what grows where, and the profitability of virtually any agricultural enterprise. Any changes to the climate that reduce water availability and/or lead to stressful high temperatures can, in turn, have serious negative impacts on farm production.  

The impacts of climate change are wide-ranging. Impacts on crop productivity are relatively straight forward. Other impacts, such as changes to the distribution and incidence of pests and diseases, interruptions to supply chains and transportation networks, altered seasonality and work schedules and pressure on the agricultural workforce are more complex.  


Farmers on the front line 

The impacts of climate change are not just being felt on the land they’re farming but on farmers’ mental health as wellEach day farmers across Australia are facing emotional and psychological pressures that are leading to depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns. They’re struggling in silence and are often unaware that support is available.  

While rural and regional communities in Australia are already disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change, the impact of mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and suicide are also more prevalent in these areas.   

The stresses of drought and changing weather patterns and their impact on farmer mental health are proven. Strong action to adapt may be happening, but the stress continues. It is no wonder farmers are feeling stressed and experiencing mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Farmers want to survive and adapt to climate change, and there are innovative adaptations emerging around the country, but the changes needed and the rapid impacts of climate change are tough to navigate.   


Bringing essential evidence-based tools and programs to regional and rural communities 

Black Dog Institute is a global leader in mental health research and is one of only two Medical Research Institutes in Australia to focus on mental health across the lifespan. Through its ongoing research and development of evidence-based resources, the Black Dog Institute is actively working to improve the lives of those at risk of depression, anxiety and suicide who are living in rural and remote Australia.  

The Institute has a strategic objective to use the latest technology and evidence-based tools to quickly turn its world-class research findings into clinical services, education and e-health products that improve the lives of people with mental illness.  

The Black Dog Institute is also a leader in e-mental health research, having built a considerable body of evidence investigating the development of interventions to lower depression, lower suicide risk and promote wellbeing.  

The Black Dog Institute has shown that access to support services is greatly reduced in regional and rural communities and they are actively working to ensure that these communities are able to access the support they need. 

It is known that about two-thirds of people with a mental illness do not seek help. Despite increased investment and strong evidence showing that prevention and intervention saves lives, factors like geography, stigma and social circumstances make it hard for people to get help, so online and telephone services are being researched and trialed to overcome these barriers. 


Switch to Enova and support the Black Dog Institute 

Enova Energy is proudly supporting the work of the Black Dog InstituteAnyone who switches to Enova can nominate to have $50 donated to the Black Dog Institute on their behalf or have the $50 credited to their first bill. Each $50 donation will support the Black Dog Institute to expand the reach of essential online tools and mental health programs so that farmers know support is there when they need it.  

It’s really important for farmers to talk to somebody rather than keep it all bottled up. It’s that contact that can save someone’s life,” James, NSW farmer.  

If you’re based in regional New South Wales and would like to support farmers while also taking action on climate change, make the switch to Enova and nominate for Enova to donate $50 to the Black Dog Institute on your behalf. Take action here.

If this raises any issues for you, you can call Lifeline on 131114.


Enova's purchasing decisions are ethically driven and focussed on sustainability. We are a proud leader in Australia's transition to a 100 per cent renewable energy future.  
Enova recognises the role native forest ecosystems play in carbon storage and sequestration and oppose the use of native forest biomass for electricity generation.  
In support of this position, Enova, along with 80 other organisations and five political parties have endorsed the National Position Statement Against Forest Bioenergy published by the Australian Forests & Climate Alliance. 

“The combustion of native forest biomass for energy production at the industrial scale poses serious threat to the climate, and to Australia’s unique forests and forest dependent species. 

It also hinders the capacity of nature to remove carbon from the atmosphere and the deployment of genuinely clean, renewable energy technologies. 

Burning native forest biomass is promoted by its advocates as carbon neutral and simply utilising waste efficiently. In reality, this is incorrect and misleading.” Australian Forests and Climate Alliance 

You can access the full position statement here. 

Enova continues to lobby for ethical renewable energy transition across the energy market. 

Learn more about Enova and the difference you can make

Running on volunteer power and supported by Enova Community - the not-for-profit arm of Enova Community Energy, Repower Byron Shire recently hit seven neighbourhood streets around Mullumbimby to encourage households to opt out of fossil fuels.

Community engagement

Repower engages the community to educate, inspire and motive action that results in real change. Volunteers spoke with 70 householders on a recent weekend to encourage residents to switch, reduce and produce. That is:

  • Switch to an energy company focused on 100 per cent renewable energy.
  • Reduce energy consumption through energy efficiency.
  • Produce - by installing solar panels wherever possible. 

Street-by-street, Repower Byron Shire aims to transition the whole of the Byron Shire to 100 per cent renewable energy. Repower has commenced the first part of a 500 Conversations campaign, in which its volunteers aim to speak with 500 householders in the next 6 months to support the Shire's transition. This project has funded by the HAMER Sprout Family Trust, FRRR and the Byron Shire Council.

Not from Byron Shire? There are Repower movements throughout New South Wales - ask Google if your region or town has a local Repower group.

#flickfossilfuels and support Repower Byron Shire.

Get your Repower sign

If you’re an existing Enova customer, you qualify for a Repower street sign for your letterbox or a weather-proof sticker for your bin or car, and show your neighbours you have Re-powered to support renewables. Simply request the sign or sticker here with your postal address. http://www.repowerbyron.org/

Support Renewables

The quickest and easiest way to support renewable energy is to switch to an ethical electricity provider. If you're not already with Enova, use our bill comparison tool to upload your bill. As well as the planet, we'll let you know how much you can save!

Whether you have solar panels or not, you can switch to Enova and support our mission to transform Australia’s renewable energy market. In fact, if you don’t have solar panels, you have a key role to play!

When you join Enova and you do not have solar panels on your rooftop, you provide a way for Enova to ensure that the renewable energy it is purchasing from local rooftops and large scale projects, can be recirculated back to power local homes and businesses.

And you ensure that Enova can continue to achieve its objectives: to do energy differently. Enova’s core mission? To enable towns, cities, suburbs and regions to power themselves using renewable energy.

By the community for the community

Enova CEO Felicity Stening said the push of the Northern Rivers community was central to the formation of Enova Community Energy three years ago.
“People who live in the Northern Rivers region care about rising carbon emissions; they’re worried about the climate crisis and they want to do something about it.”

“Enova was borne from that demand for a new kind of energy enterprise. Because we were formed by the community for the community, we really do need households and businesses to come on board to ensure we can make our vision come to life. We can’t do this without you!

“Solar and non-solar customers both play an integral part of an effective localised energy market. Whilst we love our solar customers who generate clean renewable energy, we love our non-solar customers wishing to purchase surplus generation just as much,” said Felicity.

Enova now retails electricity throughout regional New South Wales, with the intention of expanding to Sydney, Newcastle and interstate. Whether you have solar panels or not Enova is your opportunity to support new local renewable energy generation.

Help Enova achieve its goals – disruption of the energy market!

When you join Enova as a non-solar customer, your energy money is going to an electricity company that is committed to the renewable energy transition and to ensuring energy money circulates in local communities.

Our non-solar customers ensure there’s ongoing demand for clean energy. A healthy mix of solar and non-solar customers will help Enova achieve its vision of disrupting the energy market, empowering local communities, and reducing our reliance on centrally-generated and fossil fuel sourced power.

“We are here unapologetically to disrupt the energy market – the first energy retailer of its type in Australia. And it’s working,” said Ms Stening.

Need more incentive to join Enova? Under its unique model, Enova Community Energy will return 50 per cent of profits (after tax and reinvestment) back to the community.

Keeping money circulating in local towns, making them more resilient and sustainable, is all part of Enova’s ‘localisation’ strategy along with the local generation, storage and distribution of renewable energy.

Enova’s vision is for everyone to be able to access renewable energy, regardless of income or housing status, by advocating for energy efficiency, energy audits and engaging in partnerships and projects.

If you don’t have solar panels and but you want to use renewable energy to power your home, Enova also offers options for 100% renewable GreenPower as a voluntary add-on on to all our offers.

Want to know more?

To find out what difference Enova can make for you, upload your bill for a comparison or make the switch online in just 5 minutes. You're also welcome to discuss your options with our friendly, Australian-based customer service team on (02) 5622 1700. We would love to have you on board!


It is estimated that more than 5 million tonnes of food ends up in landfill in Australia at a cost of $20 billion per year. An estimated one-third of all the food produced in the world goes to waste and millions of people go hungry even though there is enough food to feed everyone. But wasted food isn't just a social or humanitarian concern—it's an environmental one.

When we waste food, we also waste all the energy and water it takes to grow, harvest, transport, and package it. And if food goes to landfill and rots, it produces methane—a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide. It is estimated that in Australia only 10% of food waste is composted, which leaves an enormous amount of food heading straight to landfill where it rots and produces greenhouse gas.

It turns out reducing food waste is one of the most important things we can do to reverse global warming. According to Project Drawdown’s team of researchers, cutting down on food waste could have nearly the same impact on reducing emissions over the next three decades as onshore wind turbines.

Liberation Larder, a much-loved charity organisation in Byron Bay has been playing a transformational role in food rescue and repurposing for ten years in the Byron Shire. In 2018 alone it provided more than 22,000 meals to people in need from rescued and donated food.

With the Byron Shire being strongly hospitality focused, it’s the perfect area to run such a successful food rescue organisation. Liberation Larder receives donated food from many of Byron Shire’s local restaurants and food production companies - preventing thousands of kilograms of otherwise fresh and healthy food from being thrown away and at the same time addressing hunger.

Liberation Larder makes sure this food reaches people who need it, either as meals or fresh food parcels.

According to the New South Wales Government program Love Food Hate Waste, one of the seven key things a restaurant or hotel can do to reduce their food waste is to ensure that all fresh food waste is donated to charities.

Enova Energy is proudly supporting the work of Liberation Larder. Anyone who switches to Enova can nominate to have $50 donated to Liberation Larder on their behalf, or have the $50 credited to their first bill. Each $50 donation will support Liberation Larder to provide ten healthy meals provided to people in need, from food that has been diverted away from landfill.

If you’re based in the Byron Shire and would like to reduce hunger in our community while also taking action on climate change, switch your electricity provider to Enova and nominate for Enova to donate $50 to Liberation Larder on your behalf. Take action here.


10 x 2040 Double passes to be won



Time is running out

As the Ross Ice Shelf - the largest ice shelf in the world - melts ten times faster than predicted, the degree of the climate crisis we are facing becomes ever more apparent.

We are already seeing the consequences of 1°C of global warming through more extreme weather, rising sea levels and diminishing Arctic sea ice, among other changes. Research tells us we have 12 years to limit the impact of climate change to 1.5 degrees Celsius. For every day people, the enormity of the challenge ahead of us can be overwhelming.

“What can I do?” we ask ourselves. The scope of the change needed seems impossible to conceptualise.

Imagining a better future

These were the exact sentiments of documentary film maker Damon Gameau when he set out on his mission to find the best solutions to the problems we are facing and imagine a better future.

And in his new film 2040, he has not only found the solutions, he’s also conceptualised the outcomes for the world as though we put them into place now. The end result is a cleaner, greener, socially inclusive, healthier planet!

In 2040, Damon Gameau (who also produced That Sugar Film) embarks upon a journey to explore what the future could look like by the year 2040 if we simply embraced the best solutions already available to us to improve our planet and shifted them rapidly into the mainstream.

Structured as a visual letter to his four-year-old daughter, Damon blends traditional documentary with dramatized sequences and high-end visual effects to create a vision board of how these solutions could regenerate the world for future generations.

Drawing on the best minds from around the world to focus on the changes that could be made if we implement the newest science and technology in energy, transport, agriculture and sustainability, 2040 maps out a pathway for change that can lead us to a more ecologically sustainable and equitable future. 

Making it happen

“What a fabulous documentary. It's so inspiring and the possibilities are real and wonderful,” said CEO Enova Energy Felicity Stening. “The film re-imagines the earth's and humanity's future if we could implement solutions with technology that is available to us right now. Enova was founded on that same premise – doing things differently in order to create positive change.”

Enova is already working on bringing microgrids alive and into communities in Australia with its first local project in the works and intentions to make microgrids real and available to Australian communities. The technology is here now and we all need to participate to make it happen.

2040 giveaway - enter here

To celebrate the opening of 2040 and its aspirational view of how we can generate positive change, we want to give you the chance to see the film!

We have 10 Double Passes to give away to see 2040 at a screening cinema of your choice.

To enter – click here – and get inspired about the better future we can hold in our sights by taking positive action. As imagined in 2040, let's keep global warming below 1.5 degrees.

Entries close at midnight on Sunday, 19 May 2019. Winners will be announced on Monday, 20 May 2019.

2040 Release date: 23 May 2019

Rating: G

Official website: www.whatsyour2040.com