In February 2010, the Wheeler Centre introduced itself – and its programme – to Melbourne with its first ever event: a gala night of storytelling. Wielding an impressive line-up of Australian writers, we invited our speakers and audience alike to reflect on the stories that make us who we are – and to mark the beginning of our own.
Over the ten years since, the Wheeler Centre has become many things: a place for conversation, a place to meet, a place to write. A place to ask, learn and disagree. We’ve held major festivals, celebrated and supported writers unknown and well known, and heard the voices of more than 3000 speakers on all kinds of topics. We’ve produced podcasts that grapple with painful and painfully important issues, and published on everything from masked passion to fast fashion. We even tried to fix your love life.
It’s been a big decade, and while we’re not immune to a pinch of nostalgia, we can’t wait to see what’s next. Join us in February 2020 as we celebrate our tenth birthday with a very special storytelling gala. You’ll hear from ten speakers – one from each storytelling gala of the past decade – sharing stories big and small, tender and rueful, funny and profound, on the topic of hindsight. Because, you know, it’s 2020.
This event will be Auslan interpreted.
Alison Lester grew up on a farm by the sea, and first rode a horse as a baby in her father's arms. Her picture books mix imaginary worlds with everyday life, encouraging children to believe in themselves and celebrate the differences that make them special. Alison is involved in many community art projects and spends part of every year travelling to remote Indigenous communities, using her books to help children and adults write and draw about their own lives.
Archie Roach’s song ‘Took the Children Away’ won an International Human Rights Achievement Award and his first album Charcoal Lane featured in US Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 50 in 1992, going gold in Australia and winning two ARIA awards. Archie’s recording history – including 12 albums, soundtracks, film and theatrical scores – has been hugely successful, hitting ARIA charts and winning awards, year in, year out.
Eddie Ayres is a writer, music teacher and broadcaster. He was born on the White Cliffs of Dover and began playing violin when he was eight years old. He studied music in Manchester, Berlin and London, played viola professionally in the UK and Hong Kong and moved to Australia in 2003.
Cate Kennedy is the author of the highly acclaimed novel The World Beneath, which won the People’s Choice Award in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2010. She is an award-winning short-story writer whose work has been published widely.
Alice Pung is an award-winning Australian writer whose books include the bestselling memoirs Unpolished Gem (2006) and Her Father's Daughter (2011), and the novel Laurinda (2014). She is the editor of the anthology Growing Up Asian in Australia (2008), and created the Marly books for Penguin's Our Australian Girl series (2015). Her latest book is the novel One Hundred Days (2021).
Jack Charles is an actor, musician, potter, Koori elder and national treasure.
After Bastardy, a biographical documentary about Jack, was released in 2008, he rediscovered family members, and is now a respected elder of the Boon Wurrung clan and one of Australia's foremost Indigenous stage and film actors.
As a member of the Archie Roach Foundation’s Council of Elders, Jack has taken his place as a Kadaitcha man — a traditional lawman — and works to help Indigenous prisoners see a better life beyond jail.
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 First People’s Health, and serves on several boards and committees, including chairing the Ebony Institute, the Cathy Freeman Foundation and AHPRA’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health strategy group.
Sally Warhaft is a Melbourne broadcaster, anthropologist and writer. She is the host of The Fifth Estate, the Wheeler Centre’s live series focusing on journalism, politics, media, and international relations, and The Leap Year, a Wheeler Centre podcast about Australians' lives in the fog of the Covid-19 pandemic. She is a former editor of the Monthly magazine and the author of the bestselling book Well May We Say: The Speeches that Made Australia.
Sally is a regular host and commentator on ABC radio and has a PhD in anthropology. She did her fieldwork in Mumbai, India, living by the seashore with the local fishing community.
Sinéad Stubbins is a Melbourne-based writer, editor and cultural critic, and the author of In My Defence, I Have No Defence. She made her name writing TV recaps for Junkee on shows such as The Bachelor and Game of Thrones, and she’s also on the writing team for The Weekly with Charlie Pickering on the ABC. She has written for The Guardian, The Saturday Paper, frankie, The Big Issue, New York Magazine and many other publications.
Nevo Zisin (they/them) is a queer, non-binary, Jewish writer, performer, activist and public speaker based in Naarm/Birraranga/Melbourne. They run workshops in schools and professional development training in workplaces around transgender identities. Author of award-winning Finding Nevo (2017), a memoir on gender transition and The Pronoun Lowdown (2021) a useful guidebook on all things related to pronouns.