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In Five. A Gala Debate on 2020.


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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.


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. The daughter of Chinese parents, Marita was born and raised in far north Queensland and now studies... Read more

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... Read more

Annabel Crabb

Annabel Crabb is a South Australian-born writer and television presenter who as a university student paid full price for Cosmo Cosmolino in 1992, breaking a solid habit of waiting for new books to arrive at the library. She completed a law degree but never became a lawyer. Annabel has been a journal... Read more

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. Simon began his career in the Australian Federal Police, serving 19 years there before being appointed assistant commi... Read more

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 Austral... Read more

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. Eva was born Eva Hauser in Vienna in 1938, and was soon declared state... Read more


Athenaeum Theatre

188 Collins Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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