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Influential political philosopher and commentator.


Professor Tim Soutphommasane is a human rights advocate and political thinker. His thinking on diversity, race and identity has shaped debates in Australia and Britain, and has guided organisations in cultural change.

Known for his clarity, originality and his thought-provoking style, Tim's expertise in diversity, culture, leadership and ethics make him a sought-after keynote, conference and dinner speaker.

Previous experience

Commissioner: Tim was Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2013 to 2018, during which he led national anti-racism campaigns and programs. He has been a prominent voice in debates about free speech and political correctness, leading the successful defence of federal racial discrimination laws against repeal.

Chair: Within Australia he has pioneered efforts to boost cultural diversity and inclusion within organisations. He was the founding chair of the Leadership Council on Cultural Diversity, which brings together CEOs to advocate for improved cultural diversity within senior leadership.? ?He is currently the co-chair of the Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network, which seeks to improve diversity within the Australian screen industry.

Education: Tim is a graduate of the University of Oxford and the University of Sydney. A political philosopher by training, he has been a newspaper columnist, a presenter on ABC Radio National and a regular TV commentator

Author: He is the author of five books: On Hate (2019), I’m Not Racist But … (2015), The Virtuous Citizen (2012), Don’t Go Back to Where You Came From (2012), and Reclaiming Patriotism (2009).

Talking Points

Preparing for the Asian Century

The economic rise of Asia presents an exciting opportunity for Australia. Is your organisation equipped for the Asian century? Does it have the right cultural settings in place to succeed? We all know that Asia literacy is vital. But cultivating this literacy may begin not with learning languages but learning the right mindset. Rather than something that is out there, Asia is something that already exists within Australia. Those organisations that will succeed in the Asian Century will be those best able to harness the potential of a multicultural Australian workforce and society. This talk offers a shrewd guide to cultural learning in the 21st century, drawing on the fresh perspective of an Asian-Australian thinker and philosopher.

The Ethical Pitfalls of Social Media

Social media - everyone is on it, but possible reputational disaster is just one small mistake away. Navigating social media requires an ethical compass. But what are the main ethical principles that should govern our use of social media? This talk takes audiences through how social media has transformed our traditional understanding of privacy and politics, and through detailed case studies of how social media can go wrong. It offers a practical ethical framework for dealing with social media. Organisations should embrace social media - but only if they have a professional culture that understands its distinctive ethical burdens.

Understanding the New Patriotism

Younger generations of Australians are embracing patriotism and national pride in a way previously unthinkable. Displays of flag-waving were once regarded as quintessentially American - today they are authentically Australian. What is the meaning of this generational change? Understanding the new patriotism is key to understanding the psychology of a key demographic. Tapping into the reservoirs of patriotism may mean the difference to an organisation communicating with younger Australian audiences. Drawing upon Tim Soutphommasane's internationally recognised expertise in patriotism and national identity, this talk will equip audiences with a deeper appreciation of the psychology of loving your country.

Working with Diversity

Australia has one of the most culturally diverse populations in the world. Yet our mmulticulturalism isn't always well understood. As Australia continues to grow even more diverse, taking maximum advantage of a multicultural workforce will be crucial to success. This means going beyond the culinary appreciation of difference. Drawing upon the Tim Soutphommasane's expertise as an adviser to governments and as a leading scholar in the field, this talk will outline the fundamental principles to working with diversity - and getting cultural learning right.

Nation-building Lessons from Britain

What lies ahead for Britain post-Olympics and post-austerity? And what can Australia learn from the British experience? This talk is based on Tim Soutphommasane's recent engagements in Britain, where he has been advising the Labour Party's policy review and Labour leader Ed Miliband (some media reports have labeled Tim Miliband's 'guru'). The new vehicle of 'One Nation' Labour has provoked considerable debate about the directions of the British left - not least about what a social democratic politics may look like after the global financial crisis and recession. Miliband's mission of re-building Britain provides an opportunity for Australians to reflect on how whether we have squandered our own opportunities post-GFC for a renewed project of nation-building.

Why a Liberal Education is Still the Best

Have we forgotten the value of a liberal arts education? These days the worth of an education is being increasingly measured in dollar signs. Governments measure progress in education in terms of whether it enhances the competitiveness of a workforce. Individuals regard education as a stepping-stone to more lucrative salary. But what happens when educational systems are geared towards producing better workers and not also better citizens and individuals? Now, more than ever, the world needs people who can think for themselves and who are equipped with a broad, humane outlook. This talk is an impassioned defence of the virtues of a liberal education and its necessity in today's modern globalised world.

The Philosophy of Intellectual Leadership

The power of ideas is paramount: success in today's world is built on innovation and creativity. But how does an organisation nurture progressive thinking and nurture intellectual leaders? Business can do more to learn from philosophy - the business of thinking - if they are to embrace a culture of dynamism and transformation. This talk isn't based on the usual managerial spiel on leadership. Drawing upon history and philosophy, it will challenge audiences to think differently about what it means to lead and to follow.
Tim Soutphommasane was a standout speaker at TEDxSydney 2012. His originality of thinking and his vision for our 21st century world, all very complex processes and ideas, were presented with great ease and passion that touched the heart of the TEDxSydney audience. TEDxSydney

Tim Soutphommasane has made an impressive contribution to our national day. He brought his powerful intellect to several private presentations and then provided live commentary on the national broadcaster for Australia Day 2012. Ever theoretically grounded, but able to talk to the general public, Tim communicates his progressive patriotism with deep thought, passion and clarity.

National Australia Day Council

Tim Soutphommasane is an original thinker and presenter. He is wise beyond his years and deeply considers and analyses issues before passing judgment. He was an outstanding presenter at the 2010 Deakin Lecture series in Melbourne, sharing his refreshing and insightful take on how the country might better rise to the challenge of tackling climate change. It is a pleasure to recommend Tim for any event suited to being enhanced by his exceptional abilities.

Nick Rowley, former advisor to British Prime Minister Tony Blair

Your keynote presentation at the Social Education and VCE Teachers' conference was thought-provoking and provided teachers an opportunity to reflect upon our current democratic principles. We were delighted to have such a challenging keynote to open the conference.

Social Education Victoria

On behalf of all at the Asia Education Foundation I would like to thank you for your contribution to the 2013 AEF National Conference. Our feedback and evaluation has indicated that the Conference was overwhelmingly a great success - with 85 percent of participant responses rating their sessions as either valuable or highly valuable. Some of the personalised feedback regarding your session included... 'A thought provoking presentation delivered very sensitively - gave some new perspectives to reflect on.' 'Absolutely loved Dr Tim's talk. He has inspired me further to reclaim patriotism in an affirming way with my students.' 'A compelling and enriching experience.' 'Great speaker!' 'Great to revisit the meaning of citizenship in Australia and with eyes to the Asian century.' I'd like to extend my deepest gratitude to you for giving so generously of your time and expertise to contribute to the conference. Time and again, it was the extraordinary calibre of the presenters that delegates found most valuable and ­we certainly couldn't have done it without you.

Asialink, The University of Melbourne
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