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The Australian Moment: What Does it Mean to be Aussie Right Now?


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Step into a time capsule and go back 20 years … Paul Keating is prime minister of Australia. The Twin Towers dominate New York’s skyline and September 11 is the date of a Chilean coup. Pauline Hanson is an anonymous redhead who works in a fish and chip shop and ‘multicultural’ is a relatively new buzzword. ‘Boat people’ sail yachts on Sydney Harbour.

Phil Kafcaloudes takes a panel of artists and decision-makers back to the Australia they knew then, and compares it to the one we know today. He’ll talk to comedian Aamer Rahman, playwright Hannie Rayson and Marylou Jelbart, artistic director of fortyfivedownstairs.

How has Australia changed over the Howard and Rudd years, and how much of that change was led by politicians? Has our art altered? Have we grown as a nation – or have we always been the same in our attitude to the world?

They’ll also look at the way multiculturalism has developed and changed in the past two decades – including our engagement with indigenous art, and with Islam.

Co-presented by the Melbourne Festival and the Wheeler Centre.


Aamer Rahman

Aamer Rahman is an Australian comedian whose work covers politics, race relations, and the War on Terror. He has performed sold-out shows at some of the world’s largest festivals including the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Edinburgh Fringe.  Rahman’s work has been covered... Read more

Phil Kafcaloudes

Phil Kafcaloudes is a writer, journalist and broadcaster who hosts an international breakfast show on the ABC’s Radio Australia network. He has been a radio and TV journalist, and has worked for the ABC in South Africa, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, and across the Paci... Read more

Hannie Rayson

Hannie Rayson is a playwright and screenwriter best known for Hotel Sorrento. Hannie Rayson has established a reputation for topical, complex dramas written with wit and insight. A graduate of Melbourne University and the Victorian College of the Arts, she has an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from L... Read more

Mary Lou Jelbart

Mary Lou Jelbart is a former program-maker, theatre and arts reviewer for ABC Radio National. She is the founder and artistic director of fortyfivedownstairs, a not-for-profit gallery and theatre in Melbourne’s CBD, which presents the work of independent visual artists, theatre companies and music... Read more


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