Do Something Urges Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Do Something Urges Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Participants in the Ethical Leadership Program were joined by a small group of Ormond College students and staff to hear Dimity Hawkins from the Nobel Peace Prize winning organisation, ICAN, speak last night.

Driven by Purpose

Ms Hawkins told the audience ICAN began in 2006 and since inception, the campaign has been anchored by its purpose to rid the world of nuclear weapons.  At its first meeting, ICAN opened with a quote attributed to former US President, Franklin D Roosevelt

“Do something. If it works, do more of it. If it doesn’t, try something else,” Franklin D Roosevelt

The founding members of ICAN began with an aspiration “can you imagine a world free of nuclear weapons?”. Far from naïve, they were well-informed about the magnitude of the task ahead of them.

“We were not a bunch of ragtag dreamers...For many people, it seems like such an intractable issue, so entrenched, one of the world’s greatest wicked problems. [Many people have asked] how and why we – a small group of Australian activists, doctors, environmentalists and others, felt we had the ability – and even the right – no less, the duty – to speak up and act. In turn, I wonder how anyone can think it is not their business” said Ms Hawkins.

Nuclear Weapons Still A Threat

While many associate nuclear weapons with the cold war, there remain 15,000 known nuclear warheads in the world, controlled by nine nations. The USA and Russia own the majority of them and today’s bombs are far more powerful than the first dropped on Hiroshima or Nagasaki during World War Two.

Australia’s Nuclear Involvement

Australia does not own any nuclear warheads however, a map released by ICAN details many sites where uranium is mined, nuclear weapons have been tested and proposals have been made to dump nuclear waste.

In his introduction to the talk, the Centre for Ethical Leadership’s Director, Peter Collins, reflected on his own understanding gained during his role as advisor to Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, in the late 1990s.

“In the 1950s and 60s, Australia invited Britain to test nuclear weapons in Maralinga, [South Australia]. For the record we [Australia] have never apologised or offered any kind of compensation. We invited a foreign power to drop nuclear weapons on our own citizens, we put defence personnel and the indigenous owners [of the lands in and around Maralinga] in harm’s way,” said Mr Collins.

Winning the Nobel Peace PrizeICAN's Nobel Peace Prize

Hs Hawkins emphasised the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to ICAN as an organisation, rather than to one individual. She said it is acknowledgement for the collective work of a like-minded group of people in over 100 countries around the world, including survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, indigenous elders and their descendants who lived with the fallout of the Maralinga bomb tests, volunteers and a small handful of paid workers.

“For most of us I think, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize was and remains a wonderful shock. It was awarded to ICAN for its pivotal role in the historic UN treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons. The treaty was adopted last year by an overwhelming vote of 122 to one,” said Ms Hawkins.

Audience Feedback

Ethical Leadership Program participant Brigid Nossal from the National Institute of Organisation Dynamics Australia said the words of Aristotle clearly came to mind in reflection of ICAN’s campaign.

“Aristotle said ‘we become what we repeatedly do’. When you’re purpose driven, like ICAN, it feeds persistence, even in the face of adversity,” said Ms Nossal.

Ormond Student and Chair of the Middle Common Room, Levi McKenzie-Kirkbright, was inspired by the magnitude of impact ICAN has achieved.

“To affect that sort of change requires a sustained effort over a long period of time. It’s not glamorous work.  The public often sees the achievement when it hits the newspapers but it’s the culmination of years of work. It’s sobering and humbling that a mostly volunteer group like ICAN can make such an impact,” said Mr McKenzie-Kirkbright.

Ms Hawkins closed by encouraging everyone in the room to take action, even if it is small.

“We can all do something…Take up your challenge, believe in your power to change and go do it,” said Ms Hawkins.

 Learn More

The Centre for Ethical Leadership will run two more Ethical Leadership programs in 2018:

  • 31 JULY - 2 AUGUST 2018
  • 27 - 29 NOVEMBER 2018

To register, download the Ethical Leadership Program brochure and complete the application form.