Since its launch in 1998, the Henry Parkes Foundation has sponsored a range of activities to advance its goals.
Orations: delivered by a distinguished Australian each year around the anniversary of Parkes’ famous Tenterfield address on the subject of federation. The inaugural Henry Parkes Oration was delivered in 2001 by the Hon. Gordon Samuels AC CVO Q on the theme ‘Australia in the 21st Century: Living in Peace and Freedom?’. It was held in Tenterfield NSW, where Henry Parkes had issued his famous call to Federation 112 years previously.
Other orators have included Dr Neal Blewett (2004, in Canberra) ‘A presidential republic or a republican president?’; Senator John Faulkner (2005, Tenterfield) ‘Apathy and Anger: Our Modern Australian Democracy’; Associate Professor Helen Irving (2006, Parkes) ‘The Crimson Thread: What Unites Australians Today?’; Dr Geoff Gallop (2007, Tenterfield) on ‘Whatever Happened to Australian Radicalism?’; Hon. Linda Burney (2008, Canberra) on ‘Weaving the Australian Tapestry’; Hon. John Bannon (2009, Tenterfield) on ‘Great National Questions and Local Matters: Australia’s Federation Then and Now’; Associate Professor Lyndsay Connors (2010, Canberra) on ‘Public Education and the Common Wealth: Towards Sustainable Democracy’; Associate Professor Philip Laird (2011, Tenterfield) on ‘Railways in Australia: Federation Unfulfilled’; Professor George Williams (2012, Canberra) on ‘Mission Impossible? Achieving Social Justice through Social Change’; Ted Mack (2013, Tenterfield) on ‘State of the Federation’, Dame Marie Bashir (2014, Sydney), Dr Georgina Willetts (2015, Tenterfield) on ‘From Nightingale Nurses to a Modern Profession: the Journey of Nursing in Australia’, Karen Middleton (2016, Canberra) on ‘Knowledge or noise? The problem with political communication’ and Emeritus Professor Ian Chubb AC (2017, Tenterfield) on ‘Harnessing the Steed: Science for the Benefit of the Nation’; Professor Megan Davis (2018, Canberra) on ‘Re-imagining a nation: Indigenous recognition, constitutional change and a future Australian republic’; Professor AJ Brown (2019, Tenterfield) on ‘Safeguarding our democracy: Whistleblower protection after the AFP raids’; Professor Mark Kenny (2020, Canberra) on ‘Why looking back is the only way forward: COVID-19, the Federation, and the chance for genuine reconciliation’; the Hon. Peter Collins AM QC (2021, online) ‘Reflections on the life of Henry Parkes, and Australia’s Federation in the time of COVID-19’.
Conventions: Citizenship conventions for schools were held each year at NSW Parliament House, designed to help students understand how politics affects their lives and how they can be involved. Topics included whether Australia should become a republic; reconciliation; ‘voting counts’, ‘mobilising for peace’; social justice, and ecological sustainability.
Funding: The Henry Parkes Foundation donates funds to registered charities to advance its objectives, at the discretion of the Trustees, in areas including education, public policy development, history and civic participation.