General Meeting

General Meeting


The first General Meeting of the Ceylon Society of Australia for 2023 will take place on Sunday, 26th February 2023 commencing at 6.30 pm at the Main Hall of the Pennant Hills Community Centre on Level 1, Ramsay Road, Pennant Hills, NSW 2120. Ramsay Road is off Yarrara Road and the Community Centre is opposite the Pennant Hills Railway Station. The entrance to the building is from the car park at the back of the building.


1. Apologies

2. 6.30pm – Mr. Maithri Panagoda will talk about his ‘Stories of Success’ as a lawyer, poet and humanist.

Maithri Panagoda, lawyer, poet, humanist - a man for all seasons. His is a success story by any criteria.

Maithri’s family comes from Gampaha and he was schooled at Ananda College in Colombo, with his Law degree from the University of Colombo, Masters in Law from the University of Sydney, and an Advanced Study in Sociology & Law at Brunei University, England. He has been admitted to practice in Australia, the UK and Sri Lanka.

Maithri has many Memberships and Awards to his credit in the legal arena gained over the years. A man of many parts, his CD of lyrics, written by him for songs by Sri Lanka’s foremost musicians, was launched in 2012. His book, “Whispers of the Heart”, is the English translation of these beautiful sensitive lyrics published in 2021. He went on to produce a collection of English poems, “Pages of Life”, written by him over the years.

His legal career has risen to the heights in his adopted country of Australia, where he is a Senior Partner at one of the oldest law firms in Sydney, established in 1899, the venerable and prestigious Sydney legal firm of Carroll & O’Dea, and he is Adjunct Professor, School of Law, University of Notre Dame.

Most importantly and bringing fame, his idealism and drive for social justice, have led to his focus on pioneering work representing Aboriginal Australians who are members of the Stolen Generation, and he is also currently handling a large volume of claims emanating from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

In addition, he has not spared himself in providing legal assistance wherever and whenever requested, more often than not on a pro bono or fee reduced basis, to the members of the Sri Lankan community in NSW.

In 2016, in recognition of his “significant services to the law, particularly in litigation and dispute resolution, and to the Sri Lankan community”, he was honoured with the Order of Australia (AM).

Last year in 2022, his firm of Carroll & O’Dea honoured Maithri with a prestigious Felicitation ceremony at the NSW Parliament with the Governor of NSW as the Guest of Honour. Many encomiums of praise were heaped on Maithri by the glittering legal fraternity present.

The ceremony also served as the launch pad for the book of essays compiled in 2022 in honour of Maithri, “Pursuing a Vision of Justice” by Senaka Weeraratna. The contributors going down memory lane are high profile achievers in their fields and many are Maithri’s contemporaries, all of whom record so much admiration and respect for an outstanding example of success. Three of CSA’s former Presidents, Hugh Karunanayake, Sunil de Silva and Thiru Arumugam, have contributed essays to the book.

Note: Copies of the book at the special discounted price of $30 will be released by Carroll & O’Dea for sale at the meeting. Books can also be pre-ordered in advance from Carroll & O’Dea by using this link and they can be picked up at the meeting -

Synopsis of talk

Maithri believes that "success" encompasses not just achievements in the professional sphere, but other elements such as family, friendships, and the opportunity to make things a little better for fellow human beings.

The journey started seven decades ago in a small rural setting called Wathumulla, close to the Gampaha township. His is not a "rags to riches" story as he came from a reasonably well to do middle class family.

Maithri will talk about how he persevered through challenging times after deciding on a career in law at the age of fifteen, when he was a student at Ananda College, Colombo.

His ground-breaking work for the First People of Australia and other landmark cases propelled him to prominence, earning respect from fellow professionals and lifelong friendships within the Aboriginal community.

Resisting suggestions from the family to slow down or retire, he quotes the cliche "Choose a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life".


3. Social

The meeting will conclude with the usual social following the talk and a brief question time. Finger food /short eats will be served to all attendees. A donation to the CSA to help defray costs would be appreciated. Please advise if a vegetarian option is preferred.

Presenji Jayawickrema

Hony. Secretary, CSA

5th February 2023