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Our Children Are Over Diagnosed


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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.


Michael Williams

Michael Williams joined Sydney Writers’ Festival in September 2020, as the Artistic Director navigating the post-pandemic landscape going into the 2021 festival. He has spent the past decade at the Wheeler Centre for Books, Writing and Ideas in Melbourne; as its founding Head of Programming in 200... Read more

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 ... Read more

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 da... Read more

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. When Martin was elected to State Parliament in 2001, WA’s child ADHD pres... Read more

Jane Caro

Jane Caro AM is a Walkley Award-winning Australian columnist, author, novelist, broadcaster, advertising writer, documentary maker, feminist and social commentator. Jane appears frequently on Q&A, The Drum and Sunrise. She has created and presented five documentary series for ABC’s Compass... Read more

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. She is Director of the Population Health, Genes and Environment Research Theme at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, and is Principal I... Read more

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. ... Read more


Melbourne Town Hall

90-120 Swanston Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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