Last night Her Excellency Vicki Treadell CMG, MVO, gave the ninth annual Michael Kirby Oration at Victoria University's College of Law and Justice. Mrs Treadall took up her appointment as British High Commissioner to Australia on 13 March 2019. As High Commissioner, she maintains the relationship between the UK and Australia.
Based on the topic Universal Values – Justice & Fairness, Mrs Treadall’s address reflected on British and universal values and the importance of striving for commonality when our values do not always appear to be the same.
"In human history we have strived over millennia for justice and fairness. Social practices and the nature of society have seen different principles and different practices across the world. Where do we find commonality? Religious and cultural differences also present us with different challenges. My values may not be your values."
Born in Malaysia, then educated in England, Mrs Treadall talked about her childhood experiences and how values are first learnt at home. Her Excellency went on to advise the Law students in the audience to, "try to understand who you are and where you come from, the values that define you and why you’re in a given place."
Mrs Treadall also shared her experience as a British diplomat, and spoke about the key priorities of the position that includes holding up the freedoms and rights of people, and Britain’s pride in shaping the global order via NATO and the World Bank.
Mrs Treadall also touched on a number of other subjects within her speech - how any law or set of principles can't be static, that they need to evolve and reflect what society wants; accountabilities for a fair and equitable society; and the importance of dialogue with countries with whom we don't always see eye-to-eye.
The end note of the oration was Mrs Treadall's reflections on the idea we must continue to have difficult conversations with those who see things differently from us in order to achieve a more just and fair world.