The Mitchell Oration

The Mitchell Oration


Dame Roma Mitchell
                      Dame Roma Mitchell

The Mitchell Oration is a biennial event sponsored and hosted by the Equal Opportunity Commission to recognise the work and lifelong achievements of prominent South Australian Dame Roma Mitchell, a powerful advocate for human rights and social justice and a trailblazer in law, government, academic life, and public and philanthropic service.

Dame Roma served as the first female judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia and later became the Chair of the Australian Human Rights Commission. She was the first woman to be appointed Governor of South Australia. Dame Roma was particularly interested in the rights of women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and migrants.

The Oration aims to carry on Dame Roma’s important work by highlighting human rights issues as they apply to the everyday lives of people in our communities. Every two years we invite prominent speakers in different fields to present their perspective on human rights.

Previous Mitchell Orations

The Hon Dr Robyn Layton AO QC presented the 2016 Mitchell Oration on 23 October 2016.

Dame Roma Mitchell died almost 16 years ago. If she could speak to us today, what she might say about the current state of human rights in Australia?

(Click to listen to 2016 Mitchell Oration ). 


The 2015 Mitchell Oration was held in conjunction with the Adelaide Film Festival on 24 October, 2015Journalist and editor Sophie Black hosted a conversation between renowned screen producer, Penny Chapman and Jane Needham, Senior Counsel representing the Council for Truth, Justice and Healing at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Assault. The focus of the discussion was the issue of child abuse in institutions and the role of writers, artists and filmmakers in making sense of the issue and fostering social change. 


 Professor Simon Rice, Director of Law Reform and Social Justice at the Australian National University College of Law, presented the 2013 Mitchell Oration on 19 October, 2013. 

Basic Instinct: The Heroic Project of Anti-Discrimination Law

Australia continues to rely on proscriptive laws to achieve non-discrimination and equality of opportunity in society. The model for those anti-discrimination laws has been largely unchanged for almost 40 years, but how much has the model achieved in changing social attitudes and practices? 

(Click to download 2013 Mitchell Oration transcript )