Getting Older

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at The Wheeler Centre

Elders in Conversation: Noel Tovey

As part of our focus on ageing, we’re presenting a number of elders in conversation. They’ll each share their experiences of a life that spans several decades, as well as social and personal change.

What have they learned along the way? What are they passionate about? And what does the accumulated wisdom of their past have to teach us about the future?

Noel Tovey AM is an actor, director, choreographer and was the artistic director for the Indigenous welcoming ceremony for the Sydney Olympics.

His roots are in Melbourne’s slums, where he was sexually abused from age four, abandoned by his parents aged six, bashed for being black, and ended up on the streets as a thief and ‘rent boy’. Arrested and incarcerated for buggery at the age of 17, he contemplated suicide – but the voices of his ancestors prevented him and turned his life around, and he achieved his dream of being a dancer and actor, becoming a principal dancer with Sadler’s Wells Opera Ballet and an acclaimed choreographer. Noel returned to Australia in 1991 to contribute to the Indigenous community; he frequently speaks out for the rights of LGBT elders.

Noel has suffered crippling discrimination and seen – and agitated for – significant social change, expanding the rights of Indigenous and LGBT people. He will share and reflect on what he’s learned.


Portrait of Noel Tovey

Noel Tovey

Noel Tovey AM has had a career spanning 60 years in Europe and Australia as an actor, dancer, singer, director, choreographer, designer, writer and teacher. He is Australia’s first male ballet dancer of Indigenous heritage.

Portrait of Richard Watts

Richard Watts

Richard Watts is a writer, broadcaster and critic, and the host of 3RRR’s flagship arts program, SmartArts.

Getting Older

We’re all getting older, every day: ageing starts from the moment we’re born. Our bodies change, our minds develop and our outlook on life evolves.

How do our personal priorities change, as grey hairs accumulate, nests empty and pension plans replace career goals? What kinds of infrastructure are essential for an ageing society? And how might ageing in the 21st century differ from the past?

In one wise week at the Wheeler Centre, we’ll look at ageing from a variety of perspectives – from the personal to the political, with guests including Susan Ryan, Karen Hitchcock and Noel Tovey.


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