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Mum’s the Word Gala



Event Status

A glittering line-up of writers, performers and musicians come together to celebrate the maternal figures that have shaped their lives in a M/OTHER gala spectacular, hosted by the one and only Jan Fran. 


To celebrate M/OTHER, the Wheeler Centre invites beloved international and Australian personalities to wax lyrical on the maternal figures that take centre stage in their lives in an honest and cathartic night of storytelling, song and reflection.

Join British-Indian behavioural scientist Pragya Agarwal, author of the bestselling novel Nightbitch Rachel Yoder, social commentator Monica Dux, feminist trailblazer Clementine Ford, Melbourne writer Tony Birch, British novelist Esther Freud, journalist Patricia Karvelas, cabaret star Libby O’Donovan, Shirley author Ronnie Scott, writer and illustrator Sophie Beer, poet and author Maxine Beneba Clarke and her teenage son – stand-up comedian Mali Hawke – for this special night of storytelling, rounded out by a musical ode to motherhood by musician, writer and disability advocate Eliza Hull.

Prepare to celebrate and commiserate with our guests as they share stories about their rich variety of maternal figures and influences, explore the complexities of maternal relationships, and ponder whether mum really is the word?



This event is presented in partnership with the Edge at Fed Square.



Conversations in M/OTHER may include references to topics such as mental health, reproductive rights, and childbirth. If you need assistance with any of these issues, you can learn more and seek advice via the Centre of Perinatal Excellence (COPE)Perintal Anxiety & Depression Australia (PANDA) and Beyond Blue.


Wheelchair accessible

Accessible toilets available

Auslan Interpreted

Please notify us of all access requirements when booking online so we can assist you with your visit. If you require further information, please contact reception on 03 9094 7800 or


The bookseller for M/OTHER event is Neighbourhood Books.


M/OTHER is a weekend of fearless conversation about the ways ‘motherhood’ is experienced, portrayed and labelled by those who mother, have been mothered, wish they were mothers, do not identify as mothers, cannot or do not want to mother, and by society at-large.




Pragya Agarwal

Dr Pragya Agarwal is a professor of social inequities, behavioural and data scientist, founder of a research think-tank investigating gender inequities, and author of four widely acclaimed non-fiction books for adults on racism, gender bias and motherhood, and a picture book for raising non-racist c... Read more

Sophie Beer

Sophie Beer is an award-winning illustrator/author living in Brisbane, Australia. She rejoices in creating bright, funny picture books which centre equality, inclusion and kindness. Her books have been printed all over the world and have sold close to one million copies. She has published with Pengu... Read more

Maxine Beneba Clarke

Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of the acclaimed memoir The Hate Race, the award-winning short fiction collection Foreign Soil, the poetry collections Carrying The World and How Decent Folk Behave, and many other books for adults and children. Her forthcoming poetry collection is It’s The S... Read more

Tony Birch

Tony Birch is the author of four novels, five short fiction collections, and two poetry books. His most recent book is the novel, Women and Children (UQP). ... Read more

Monica Dux

Monica Dux is a writer and commentator. She is the author of Lapsed: losing your religion is harder than it looks (HarperCollins ABC Books, 2021), Things I Didn’t Expect (when I was expecting) (MUP, 2013), co-author of The Great Feminist Denial (MUP, 2008), and editor of the anthology Mothermorpho... Read more

Clementine Ford

Clementine Ford is a Melbourne-based writer, speaker and feminist thinker. She is a columnist for Fairfax’s Daily Life and is a regular contributor to the Age and Sydney Morning Herald. Through her twice-weekly columns for Daily Life, Clementine explores issues of gen... Read more

Jan Fran

Jan Fran is a Walkley-winning journalist, TV Presenter and internet commentator. Jan is the creator, writer and presenter of the online opinion segment, The Frant, which has been viewed more than 20 million times on social media and earned Jan a 2019 Walkley Award for Best Commentary, Analysis, Opin... Read more

Esther Freud

Esther Freud trained as an actress before writing her first novel, Hideous Kinky, which was made into a film starring Kate Winslet. After publishing her second book she was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists. Her other novels include The Sea House, Lucky Break and Mr Mac and Me... Read more

Mali Hawke

Mali Hawke is a stand-up comedian. He has most recently hosted Up Next Comedy at Arts Centre Melbourne, was a finalist in The Melbourne Comedy Festival’s Class Clowns in 2021, and has since performed in various other lineups including Wheeler Centre’s ‘Mum’s The Word’ g... Read more

Eliza Hull

Eliza Hull is an award-winning musician, writer and disability advocate. Eliza is a disabled woman, with a physical disability ‘Charcot Marie Tooth.’ Eliza is the editor and creator of the book We’ve Got This: Stories by Disabled Parents. She has been a guest on The Today Show, The Drum, ABC N... Read more

Patricia Karvelas

Patricia Karvelas is a prominent Australian journalist, beginning her professional career at the ABC and SBS 20 years ago. She currently presents Radio National’s flagship radio current affairs programme RN Breakfast. Patricia co-hosts the ABC’s popular weekly political podcast, The Party Room... Read more

Libby O’Donovan

Libby O’Donovan OAM is a ‘powerful and sassy performer’ (The Sydney Morning Herald), renowned for her nuanced interpretations and extraordinary voice. Libby is the recipient of the 2022 Cabaret Icon Award and has received an OAM in recognition of her service as a critically acclaimed j... Read more

Ronnie Scott

Ronnie Scott’s first novel The Adversary was shortlisted for a Queensland Literary Award and the ALS Gold Medal; his second novel, Shirley, will be published in February. He teaches Creative Writing at RMIT.

Rachel Yoder

Rachel Yoder is the author of Nightbitch, her debut novel released in July 2021. Selected as an Indie Next Pick in August 2021, Nightbitch has gone on to be named a best book of the year by Esquire and Vulture and recognized as a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, finalist for t... Read more


The Edge, Fed Square

The Atrium Flinders Street Federation Square Melbourne Victoria 3000

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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.