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Fair Share Festival, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Editor’s Note: I would recommend people in Australia get behind this, and people everywhere could consider how to organise your own festival in your respective states. Getting transition discussions into the lenses and microphones of mainstream media is an urgent need.

What: Natural and Economic Solutions to the Global Financial Crisis
Where: Hamilton Public School, Newcastle, NSW, Australia
When: Friday night 22nd October (6pm to 9pm) and Saturday 23rd October, 2010 (9am to 9pm)
Why: Isn’t it obvious?

Newcastle is hosting a unique and timely event, Australia’s first Fair Share Festival, focussed on urgent economic and social justice issues and sustainable solutions. It’s planned to run at Hamilton Public School hall, grounds and Permaculture garden between 22-23 October (Friday and Saturday).

It is produced by Permaculture Hunter Region (PHR), the Permaculture Research Institute (PRI), Transition Town Newcastle and Unions NSW.

Intensive workshops led by visiting and local experts, with displays and entertainment items, will deal with building a caring and sustainable economy, community, enterprises and employment. These will consider essential ethical alternatives to the “greed is good, profits above people and planet” thinking that is behind the disasters of the still unravelling global financial crisis (GFC).

The Fair Share Festival emphasises caring and sharing for the earth and community, via ethical enterprises that produce sustainable products and services affordable to all. It will have family entertainment including invited music performers as well as an “Open Microphone” to book a time for anyone to perform, an Eco-Magician and Circus Avalon.

It will consider economic justice; fair trade vs free trade; ecological economics – economics for earth and the community; alternative forms of economies and currencies eg. local food economies – community gardens and farmers markets, Local Energy Trading Systems (LETS), bartering and alternative currencies; mutual support enterprises – like co-operatives, mutual societies, building societies, trade and credit unions; worker rights, employee share-ownership schemes & superannuation systems; affordable housing for the poor; charities and community non-profit organisations; green campaigns; sustainable small businesses and Permaculture.

Festival convenor Tom Toogood said that “global and local responses to the Global Financial Crisis and the closely related global eco-crisis have so far been weak compromises. Some responses have tightened regulations, but basically it is business as usual. We are still chasing the destructive myths of economic growth, and consumption without limits, on a finite planet.”

Mr Toogood continued “the ‘free-market utopia’ has decreased biodiversity, rapidly extracted non-renewable resources, and increased the wealth to poverty gap, while epidemics of lifestyle diseases threaten western health-care budgets.”

The festival producers are heartened by the support of Unions NSW representing hundreds of thousands of workers – already gaining enrolments for the event from Sydney and Melbourne.

Download flyers here:


General – FairShareFestival (at)
John – jafshiel (at) or phone 4952 5209
Tom – ecoed (at)

Eminent speakers include:

Professor Bill Mitchell, the Research Chair in Economics at the University of Newcastle and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), and Board member of the ARC Research Network in Spatially Integrated Social Science (ARCRNSISS).

Associate Professor Jenny Cameron, from the Centre for Urban and Regional Studies of the University of Newcastle, and the Community Economies Collective, an international network of scholars and activists.

Gary Kennedy, the Secretary of the Newcastle Trades Hall Council (NTHC), the peak union body in the Hunter representing 32 Unions. The NTHC represents workers’ rights with political and community activities.

Dr Shann Turnbull, is one of the world’s experts on sustainable, self-reliant community economic systems, and on corporate governance in the government, private and non profit sectors. Dr Turnbull is a patron of Economic Reform Australia, and a prolific author of articles on socio-economic reform eg. ‘Democratising the Wealth of Nations’, ‘Building Sustainable Communities: Tools and concepts for Self-reliant economic change’.

Other speakers and participants include:

Dr F. Ted Trainer author of many books including “Abandon Affluence” and “The Transition to a Sustainable and Just Society”, Dr Graeme Stuart (Asset Based Community), Harvey Purse from the Australian Fair Trade & Investment Network (AFTINET), Helen McCall from the Co-operative Federation of NSW, Naomi Hogan from Rising Tide, Bronwyn Grieve and Col Roach from Bendigo Community Bank, Robert Pekin from Brisbane’s Food Connect, and William Vorobioff convenor of Transition Newcastle.

More Details

Gary Kennedy will represent the Newcastle Trades Hall Council (NTHC), the peak union body in the Hunter representing 32 Unions. The NTHC is affiliated with Unions NSW which has a new community campaign “Better Services, Better State”.

The Festival’s convenor, former business lecturer Tom Toogood of Gateshead who now teaches Permaculture in his retirement, said that the concept had been “motivated by the abject failure of the economic rationalist model to cultivate caring and sharing of community and industry. We need to improve workers’ and farmer’s rights, as well as lower the great waste of human resources – the unemployed – without risking bankruptcy.”

One Festival Team Leader, John Shiel said “There should be better ways to earn a living without working for a few wealthy people and organisations that sell services and products marketed heavily at specific audiences and planned for obsolescence. Banks “create money” from debt burdens sold as future labour contracts. This generates profits for a few, while financing only bank-priority projects, instead of community-focused ones. Since 80% of people on the finite planet don’t even own a car, we should explore issues of more equitable wealth distribution e.g. ‘can we get full employment without economic growth?’”


The key sponsors are Uniting Care Ageing (Hunter, Central Coast and New England), Hamilton Public School and YellowEdge, Performance Architects. Other sponsors include Newcastle City Council, United Nations Association of Australia, Sprocket Roasters and Circus Avalon.

The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia (PRI) – The Permaculture Research Institute develops permaculture projects across the world. Geoff Lawton manages PRI which is a non-profit company limited by guarantee, and he consults, undertakes permaculture aid projects and teaches permaculture to students and interns throughout the year. PRI is located on Zaytuna Farm near Lismore in Northern NSW, with abundant wildlife on 66 acres on Terania Creek. It has solar systems, composting toilets and a reed bed greywater system, as well as large organic vegetable & herb gardens, food forests and 1 acre of main crop. Geoff encourages WWOOFers (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) to work at the farm to learn and maintain the crops and gardens, forest, animal husbandry, water systems, and natural building techniques..

Permaculture Hunter Region (PHR) – PHR is a not for profit association in the Hunter Region concerned with sustainable culture, and permanent agriculture. Permaculture has the ethics of caring for the earth, people and sharing surplus goods applied to all sectors of culture, using a holistic systems model based on resilient, productive natural ecological systems science. Permaculture co-founder Bill Mollison has stated that Permaculture has nothing to do with gardening, but USES gardening to teach a multi-disciplinary design philosophy.

Transition Town Newcastle – Transition Town Newcastle is a grass-roots, not for profit association creating a positive vision for the future, forming close ties within the community, and networking with the myriad of environmental organisations. It works with local Councils and businesses to accelerate the pace of change that must be made in order to effectively tackle the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change. Transition Newcastle has members who work and live around Newcastle, Lake Macquarie, Port Stephens, and we are gathering resources to assist local Hunter areas to develop their own Energy Descent Plans.

Unions NSW – Unions NSW is the public name of the Labor Council of New South Wales, which represents around 70 Trade Unions and over 800,000 workers in NSW. It was founded in 1871, and has been instrumental in improving workers’ rights. Its Parliamentary Committee formed the Australian Labor Party, the oldest in Australia, in 1891, following the harsh suppression of the maritime and shearers’ strikes which showed that an alternative was needed to industrial action.

The Labor Council developed a negotiating role between unions and employers, and is still a central lobbying agent for workers with government, and conducts arbitrations. The Labor Council has been involved in many workers’ campaigns including the 40 hour week; equal wages for women; the 35 hour week (which led to the 38 hour week); improvements in the apprenticeship and traineeship systems; broader issues such as occupational health and safety, flexible working hours, maternity, paternity and adoption leave, childcare and family matters; decent redundancy provisions; regulation of Labour Hire firms; the enterprise bargaining system; better member communications eg. with the popular web-project, LaborNET.

It provides high-quality residential and community care services to older residents in the Hunter, Central Coast and New England region through low care facilities, high care facilities, self care accommodation and community care services.

UnitingCare Ageing Hunter, Central Coast and New England is committed to offering lifestyle choice, health and well-being for older Australians and strive to connect older people to community to seek ways to prevent loneliness and exclusion.


Festival Convenor: Tom Toogood, Manager, Sustaining our Suburbs (a joint venture of Permaculture Hunter Region and the Uniting Care Ageing-HCCNE), ecoed (at) Uniting Care Ageing (Hunter, Central Coast and New England) is part of Uniting Care Australia which is the largest non-government, community care services provider in Australia.

Ross Brown, Chairperson, Permaculture Hunter Region, ross.brown (at)

William Vorobioff, Convenor, Transition Newcastle Inc, transitionnc (at)

Geoff Lawton, Director, Permaculture Research Institute of Australia, info (at)

Mary Yaager, Campaigns Officer, Unions NSW, myaager (at)


  1. Interested to have a stall at your fair. We make our own products Orgonites it provides protections from EME etc. WE have our insurance, and looking for quality fairs, mainly to do with wellness ph; 02 43931132

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