International House 2019 Frank Larkins Oration

On Wednesday 10 July 2019, International House was delighted to have The Honourable Jenny Macklin orated our 2019 Frank Larkins Oration.

2019 Frank Larkins Oration

The Honourable Jenny Macklin
"From country kid to Cabinet Minister, via International House"

By Kiara Mijares
Philippines, Master of Journalism

“A person is not defined by race or gender and labelling as other could still constrain us all” said The Honourable Jenny Macklin at the 2019 Frank Larkins Oration held at International House, The University of Melbourne.

Macklin is the first woman to be elected as deputy leader in a major political party after serving in Parliament as a member of Jagajaga for 23 years. Coincidentally, she is also the first female speaker for the Frank Larkins Oration, making it her first public appearance since retiring from politics. 

Her time at International House (1972) was defined by Australia’s current needs and the call of duty during the Whitlam Government. It was in being one of the few female residents and in joining feminist movements “when the government took us seriously,” claims Macklin, which made her excited for her future career in politics.  

Although she graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne, it was an exchange program to Japan during high school that inspired Macklin and sparked her interest in the global community. She was awestruck at the world outside of her own - especially at a time when The White Australia Policy was prevalent: “It was a real awakening to be the other, to be the one who looks and sounds different from everyone else.”

Moreover, she says her time living at International House “opened me up, not only to the world, but what it means to be part of the dominant group in society.” Her experience within those halls taught her to fight for people who do not have the same privileges as many Australians and especially those who have been constricted by the laws of the government.

Since then, Macklin has been Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Minister for Disability Reform (2007-2013) for the Labor Government. She aided in establishing the Royal Commission on Institutional Child Sex Abuse. Moreover, Macklin has greatly contributed to the Australia’s largest pension scheme and the system for social protection through the Paid Parental Leave Scheme and National Disability Insurance Scheme, respectively. 

“We need to realise that we are all other and focus on and unite behind the issues that matter to us.” says Macklin, “The person we see different from us is not so different from us after all.”