The Whitlam Institute within the University of Western Sydney is a dynamic public policy institute that commemorates, and is inspired by the life and work of one of Australia’s most respected Prime Ministers, The Hon. Gough Whitlam AC QC. It pursues the causes he championed and is guided by the principles upon which his parliamentary career and years of service to the people of Australia were founded.
Established under an Agreement between the University of Western Sydney and Mr Whitlam in 2000 as an incorporated entity within the university, the Institute bridges the historical legacy of Mr Whitlam’s years in public life and the contemporary relevance of the Institute’s work to public discourse and policy.
The Institute’s work encompasses three inter-related areas of activity.
The Whitlam Institute is custodian of the Whitlam Prime Ministerial Collection, under the stewardship of the University of Western Sydney Library. The Collection includes books, papers and memorabilia gifted by Mr Whitlam and other donors. This nationally significant Collection has been catalogued and digitised and is available as an e-collection for researchers, scholars and members of the public. The Whitlam Institute is committed to making this rich collection as open and accessible as possible.
The Whitlam Institute Program is the umbrella for a wide range of public policy activities through which it seeks to promote dialogue and debate, to inform and educate, to conduct applied policy research and, where the evidence allows, to advocate for change. This is now a substantial program in a number of policy domains, including: education, contemporary economic challenges, Australian democracy and political participation, human rights and public life. The Institute conducts and commissions original research, presents public policy forums, symposia and public lectures, and regularly publishes on these issues of importance to our national life.
The Whitlam Institute’s Education & Outreach work encompasses a diverse range of public engagement activities. Through the What Matters? writing competition, school students are given the opportunity to express what really matters to them in contemporary Australian society. The Institute contributes to the cultural life of Western Sydney through its presentation of public exhibitions dealing with Australia’s social, cultural and political history, and regularly provides opportunities for the people of Western Sydney and beyond to attend talks and seminars.
The Whitlam Institute exists to improve the quality of life for all Australians. Its spirit is best captured by Mr Whitlam's own words when signing a further substantial Deed of Gift in 2003 with the University of Western Sydney:
The greatest contribution that I hope to bestow is inspiration. That the work and causes championed in my parliamentary career and the statesman service that followed, will provide the basis for ongoing research and advocacy from this university into the contemporary challenges that confront and can improve the quality of life for all Australians....