Skip to content

Dirty secrets


Event Status

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was established in 1949,
ostensibly to protect the country from spies, saboteurs and subversives within society who
were deemed a danger to the nation’s security. Over the next few decades, records were
collected on a number of writers and prominent public figures.

In a juicy twist to this story of secrets and surveillance, many of those files are now freely
accessible, providing fascinating, worrying (and in some cases highly entertaining) reading
for those profiled. We’ll gather several of these persons of interest in one room, as Anne
Summers, Gary Foley, Meredith Burgmann and Michael Kirby take to the stage with their newly
released ASIO files open and ready to share.

Activists, agitators and troublemakers all, our guests reveal their dirty secrets, gleaned
in the days before social media, blogs and even videotape had been invented. This peek
behind the curtain of Australian surveillance is sure to lend insight into what was considered
subversive, who was watching whom, and whether any of it was true (or worthwhile) at all.


Gary Foley

Gary Foley is an Australian Aboriginal Gumbainggir activist, academic, writer and actor. He is best known for his role in establishing the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra in 1972 and for establishing an Aboriginal Legal Service in Redfern in the 1970s. He is currently a Professor of History... Read more

Michael Kirby

Michael Kirby is one of Australia’s most admired public figures. When he retired from the High Court of Australia in February 2009, Kirby was Australia’s longest serving judge. In addition to his judicial duties, he has served on many national and international bodies, including the World Health... Read more

Meredith Burgmann

Meredith Burgmann became radicalised at Sydney University in the sixties, when her ASIO file began. She was an academic at Macquarie University for 18 years, becoming president of the Academics Union. She was elected as a Labor MP and later president of the NSW Legislative Council. Her other books a... Read more

Anne Summers

Dr Anne Summers AO is a journalist, researcher, commentator and best-selling author of nine books, including the classic Damned Whores and God’s Police, first published in 1975, and still in print. Her most recent book Unfettered and Alive, a memoir, was published in 2018. In 2021 Anne was appoint... Read more


Athenaeum Theatre

188 Collins Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

More details

Stay up to date with our upcoming events and special announcements by subscribing to The Wheeler Centre's mailing list.

Privacy Policy

The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.