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Intelligence Squared Debates

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at Melbourne Town Hall

Our Children Are Over Diagnosed

These days, classrooms seem packed with children who report to the office to take medication at lunchtimes – or whose behaviour problems come with labels that didn’t exist when their parents were young. Kids who can’t sit still have ADHD, kids with trouble making friends have Asperger’s Syndrome, and even cleverness comes with a measurable label: Gifted.

When did eccentricity, naughtiness and other behaviours become medicalised, rather than part of the normal variation of human behaviour? Do all these categories help more than they hinder? And why are asthma, autism and allergies all on the rise? Divisions are everywhere – on whether the rise in childhood ailments is due to better detection, environmental contaminants or a blend of both; and on whether medication is an answer, and if so, how soon (and how much).

Our speakers will take the pulse of the situation – and offer competing diagnoses to get to the heart of the problem. Wheeler Centre director Michael Williams will chair the debate.

Speakers for the proposition are:
Jane Caro – author, broadcaster and award-winning advertising writer
Martin Whitely – recently retired WA politician, teacher and author of Speed Up and Sit Still: The Controversies of ADHD
Jon Jureidini – child psychiatrist, Professor in psychiatry and paediatrics at Adelaide University and spokesman for Healthy Skepticism

Speakers against the proposition include:
Nicole Rogerson – CEO of Autism Awareness Australia and director of the Lizard Children’s Centre
Katie Allen – paediatric gastroenterologist and allergist in the field of Food Allergy at Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital and co-author of Kids' Food Allergy for Dummies
Jane Burns – public health academic and advocate, and CEO of Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre

Tweet at this event: #iq2oz

Intelligence Squared Debates

The Wheeler Centre and St James Ethics Centre combine again in 2013 to bring you a brand new series of Intelligence Squared debates.

Established in 2002, IQ2 has spread across the globe, bringing the traditional form of Cambridge and Oxford Unions-style debating – with two sides proposing and opposing a sharply formed motion – to Melbourne Town Hall.


Portrait of Michael Williams

Michael Williams

Michael Williams is the Director of the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne. He has worked at the Wheeler Centre since inception in 2009, when he was hired as the Head of Programming before being appointed as Director in September 2011.

He has hosted Blueprint for Living (2015–2016), then Talkfest (2017–2019), on ABC RN. He remains a regular guest on ABC Radio and TV. Michael has also worked as a Breakfast presenter for Melbourne’s 3RRR, as a member of the Australia Council’s Literature Board, in publishing and has written extensively for the Guardian, the AgeSydney Morning HeraldAustralian and elsewhere.

Portrait of Nicole Rogerson

Nicole Rogerson

Nicole Rogerson is the CEO of Autism Awareness Australia and director of the Lizard Children’s Centre. She is a frequent public speaker on autism and often appears in the media advocating for families with children on the spectrum. She is a passionate advocate for evidence-based interventions and funding support for ASD children and adults.

Portrait of Jon Jureidini

Jon Jureidini

Jon Jureidini is a child psychiatrist at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, Adelaide where he works with ill and disabled children and their families. He has also trained in philosophy and psychotherapy, but learned most of what he knows about psychiatry by growing up in a pub, having three daughters, and from novels and Leunig cartoons.

Portrait of Martin Whitely

Martin Whitely

Martin Whitely is a recently retired WA politician, teacher and author of Speed Up and Sit Still: The Controversies of ADHD. Martin made tackling what he terms the ‘ADHD Industry’ a major focus of his parliamentary work.

Portrait of Jane Caro

Jane Caro

Jane Caro is an author, novelist, speaker, broadcaster, columnist, advertising writer and media and social commentator. She has published seven books, including two novels about Elizabeth Tudor. Her memoir, Plain Speaking Jane, was released in September 2015. She writes regular columns in the Sun Herald Sunday Life magazine, MT magazine and Mamamia Debrief Daily. She appears often in the media, including on the Gruen Transfer, Agony, Q&A, The Drum, Sunrise and Weekend Sunrise.

Portrait of Katie Allen

Katie Allen

Professor Katie Allen is a Paediatric Gastroenterologist and Allergist practising in the field of Food Allergy at the Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne.

Portrait of Jane Burns

Jane Burns

Associate Professor Jane Burns is the founder and CEO of the Young and Well Cooperative Research Centre, an organisation that unites young people with researchers, practitioners and innovators to explore the role of technology in improving mental health and wellbeing for young people aged 12 to 25.

Intelligence Squared Debates

The Intelligence Squared debates rage on in 2014 with a whole new range of topics as compelling as they are polarising. In these highly participatory debates, once both sides have had their say, the decision as to who emerges victor lies entirely in your hands.


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