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Tim Costello: Ordinary people can change the course of history

Tim Costello speaking on stage

Our opinions and emotions, loyalties, customs and perceptions of right or wrong, good and evil, are shaped by our need to belong to a group and sometimes by our willingness to hate rival groups.

Tim Costello

Delivering the 2019 Gandhi Oration, World Vision Chief Advocate, Reverend Tim Costello is hopeful for the future.

In his oration, 'Justice in Action', Rev Costello of talked of a "retribalised" world where micro-tribes, which were once defined by nation, religion, or culture, are now tightly defined by an ever-changing set of rules. Digital communities bolster these micro-tribes, becoming echo chambers of their own making.

Examining this behaviour in both a local and global context, Costello considers the relevance of Gandhi's philosophy. Listen to his hopeful conclusion that all of us can be part of a more just world. 


Since 2012, UNSW Sydney has hosted the annual Gandhi Oration celebrating the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi as a champion of human rights. The Oration features discussions on the significant human rights issues of our time. Past speakers have included Senator Pat Dodson, Peter Greste, Pat Anderson, Shoma Chaudhury, Reverend Tim Costello, Rosie Batty and Shen Narayanasamy. 

Tim Costello Portrait

Tim Costello

Rev Tim Costello is one of Australia’s most respected community leaders and a sought-after voice on social justice issues, leadership and ethics. For 13 years until October 2016, Tim was Chief Executive of World Vision Australia (WVA). In his current role as WVA’s Chief Advocate, Tim continues to place the challenges of global poverty on the national agenda. Concurrently this year, Tim is the Executive Director of Micah Australia.

Other positions Tim holds are Chair of the Community Council of Australia; member of the Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee of the EU-Australia Leadership Forum; member of the SBS Community Advisory Committee: Chief Advocate of the Thriving Communities Partnership; board member for the Campaign for Australian Aid; board member for the Australian National Development Index; Patron of SMSF and Patron of the National Youth Commission. Tim is a founding board member and spokesperson for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, which campaigns for law reform to prevent harm from poker machine gambling.

In 2006 Tim was named Victoria’s Australian of the Year, in June 2005 was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO); in 2004, was named Victorian of the Year; and in 1997 was named as one of Australia’s 100 National Living Treasures.

Tim and his wife Merridie have three adult children, Claire, Elliot and Martin.

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