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GALAs 2015

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at Athenaeum Theatre

In Five. A Gala Debate on 2020.

As part of our fifth birthday celebrations, we’re presenting a unique headline debate with two sides, just one team – and nothing less than our future at stake.

The central question: where will we be as a society in five years’ time? Should we feel hopeful, or should we feel despair?

In four minute bursts, our panel of five prominent thinkers will each make an informed, impassioned case for optimism – and counter with an equally persuasive case against it.

It’s public debate as it should be: the kind that bucks binaries, marginalises myopia and penalises pigheadedness. And it’s a conversation with room for complexity, nuance and the grey areas in your grey matter.

Join our panellists as they pick holes in one another’s arguments and ideas. Then, the audience heads to a final tally: do you feel positive or negative about the future?

Speakers include feminist author Eva Cox, Robogals founder and former Young Australian of the Year Marita Cheng, political journalist and author George Megalogenis, Tasmanian Department of Justice secretary Simon Overland and medical anthropologist Gregory Phillips. Our host is writer and broadcaster Annabel Crabb.


Portrait of Marita Cheng

Marita Cheng

Marita Cheng founded Robogals Global in 2008 as a response to the traditionally low levels of participation by women in engineering and technology. In 2012, she was named Young Australian of the Year.

Portrait of Gregory Phillips

Gregory Phillips

Gregory Phillips is from the Waanyi and Jaru peoples, and comes from Cloncurry and Mount Isa. He is a medical anthropologist, with thirty years’ experience in leading change in cultural safety, healing and decolonisation.
Gregory is Chief Executive Officer of ABSTARR Consulting, is a Professor of First People’s Health, and serves on several boards and committees, including chairing the Ebony Institute, the Cathy Freeman Foundation and AHPRA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health strategy group.

Portrait of Annabel Crabb

Annabel Crabb

Annabel Crabb is one of Australia’s most popular political commentators, is the presenter of Kitchen Cabinet and wrote for The Drum. Annabel has worked extensively in newspapers, radio and television and has appeared on Insiders,The Drum, Gruen Nation, Q&A and as stand-in host for 7.30.

Portrait of Simon Overland

Simon Overland

Simon started his current position as secretary for the Department of Justice in Tasmanian in July 2012. He was chief commissioner of Victoria Police from March 2009 until mid-2011.

Portrait of George Megalogenis

George Megalogenis

George Megalogenis is an author and journalist with three decades' experience in the media. The Australian Moment won the 2013 Prime Minister's Literary Award for Non-fiction and the 2012 Walkley Award for Non-fiction, and formed the basis for his ABC documentary series Making Australia Great

Portrait of Eva Cox

Eva Cox

Eva Cox has been an academic, political adviser, public servant, and runs a small research and policy consultancy. A sociologist by trade, she promotes ideas widely and eclectically in books, on line, in journals and other media.

GALAs 2015

The Wheeler Centre is turning five years old in February. To celebrate our birthday, we’re throwing a series of Galas and inviting everyone to revel in the wonderful world of books, writing and ideas.

In 2008, Melbourne became the second city, after Edinburgh, to be designated a UNESCO City of Literature, an acknowledgement of the breadth, depth and vibrancy of our city’s literary culture. Part of this ambitious State Government initiative was the establishment of the Wheeler Centre, Australia’s first centre dedicated to books, writing and ideas.

We launched on a Saturday night in February 2010 at a packed Melbourne Town Hall, with the inaugural Gala Night of Storytelling. Since then, we’ve hosted more than 200 events each year and welcomed the best local and international talent – both emerging and established – to our stage.

It is this city’s overwhelming appetite for books, writing and ideas that has made the Wheeler Centre a success over the past five years. With this in mind, we are proud to present a series of Galas with something for everyone. Come and celebrate our big fifth birthday with us.


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