Peace campaigner at Flinders

Gill Hicks
Terrorist bomb survivor Dr Gill Hicks.

World peace campaigner Dr Gill Hicks will give a talk on Surviving Terrorism at this year’s free Ray Whitrod Memorial Lecture at Flinders University.

The founder of London-based M.A.D. (Making a Difference) for Peace was made a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in this year’s Australia Day Honours list for significant service to the promotion of peace in the community through public engagement, education and network building initiatives.

Adelaide-born Gillian, who worked in publishing in London from 1992, became a motivational speaker in the wake of the devastating 7 July 2005 London terrorist bombings.

Both her legs were amputated below the knee, and she was not expected to survive. Upon gaining a ‘second life,’ she formed MAD for Peace in 2007, a not-for-profit organisation which concentrates on ending violent extremism.

“We can’t ever control random acts of violence but you can control how you react and respond,” Dr Hicks told a BBC reporter last year.

Violent extremism, she said, is a parasitic cancer that seeks out a host “and what we’re looking at right now is that (the) host is Islam”.

“Imagine if terrorism was not only viewed but also reported as criminal offences,” she says. “Equally, what if terrorist organisations were referred to as nothing more than ‘organised crime gangs’?

“I’m interested to explore how this change in the terms of reference could affect our level of fear and decrease the interest from those who choose a path of extremism and violent extremism.”

She says what unites us all is far greater than which strives to divide us.

“In times of uncertainty we need to value what is certain – and that is the bond of humanity.”

In 2009, Dr Hicks was awarded an MBE for her services to charity in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List and joined the Who’s Who of Australian Women in 2011 and was a former South Australian of the Year. She was a recipient of the Iman Wa Amal Special Judges Award at the 10th Annual Muslim News Awards for Excellence in 2010.

Flinders Law School Centre for Crime Policy and Research lecture will present the annual Ray Whitrod Memorial Lecture at the Alere Function Centre at the Flinders University Hub at Bedford Park (entry off Sturt Road), 5.30pm-7pm on Wednesday 7 September.

The lecture is named in honour of the contribution of Ray Whitrod, who came to national prominence in 1976 when he resigned as Queensland Commissioner of Police as a protest against corruption. He campaigned for improving police professionalism and integrity and to providing assistance to victims of crime.

Gill Hicks is considered one of the most thought-provoking, powerful and life affirming speakers in Australia and the UK. Her first book, One Unknown, was named after the chilling label given to her when she arrived at the hospital after the bombing as an unidentified body.

Drawing upon her previous roles within the arts, Gill’s compelling projects and initiatives are aimed at deterring anyone from following the path of violent extremism and building sustainable models for peace.

She has received two Honorary Doctorates: one in Philosophy from the London Metropolitan University, recognising her contribution to architecture and design and her work promoting the importance of establishing sustainable peace; the other from Kingston University in recognition of her dedication to rehabilitative health.

Register for the 2016 Ray Whitrod Memorial Lecture here.

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