Conversation Starters

The Wheeler Centre is a focal point for Australia’s rich and diverse literary culture and a physical hub of creative activity. In the heart of Melbourne, we present a year-round programme of live conversations and digital content.

In order to create their best work, writers need a combination of resources and support to reach audiences, build a career and find new modes of presentation. The Wheeler Centre is focused on providing opportunities for writers to explore their craft, hone their skills and develop new work.

This includes:

  • Featuring writers in our year-long programme of 200+ events and conversations

  • Commissioning creative or investigative work for wheelercentre.com

  • Paying writers at professional rates for their public appearances and commissioned writing

  • Providing fellowships and residencies

  • Managing a literary hub in which writers (and their professional advocates) can gather, work and build a community

  • Showcasing all forms of literary activity including: novelists, essayists, short-story writers, graphic novelists, non-fiction practitioners, memoirists, poets, oral storytellers, writers for young people, digital writers and writers for screen, sound and stage

By becoming a Conversation Starter, you’ll help to realise our vision and play a vital role in nourishing Australia’s writers. Collectively, Conversation Starters are our most influential group of donors – each donating $5,000 annually. Your contribution is vital in supporting the Wheeler Centre’s role as a leader in Australia’s literary sector.

There are, of course, benefits for you:

  • Invitations to join us as our guests at a selection of special events each year, including the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards, our Gala Night of Storytelling and other key events;

  • Personal assistance with event bookings, and priority ticketing;

  • Written acknowledgement of your support online and in print;

  • An invitation for at least one night of food, drinks and lively conversation with other Conversation Starters, our patrons, staff, board members and writers – so you can keep abreast of our activities and share your input on the future success of the Wheeler Centre.

As a Conversation Starter, your annual donation is directed to select events throughout the year. These events are hand-picked by us, involve Australian writers and are free and accessible for audiences to enjoy – with the majority also made available through digital publication. (Each event in our programme funded by our Conversation Starters is indicated by our Conversation Starter mark.)


Help us support Australia’s diverse and wonderful literary sector. Become a Conversation Starter today.

To learn more, contact Jaclyn Booton, General Manager, on 03 9094 7813 or jaclyn.booton@wheelercentre.com. 


Meet our current Conversation Starters:

  • Wendy and Tony Hudson
  • Robin and Marylou Friday
  • Elke Gjergja
  • Andy and Jill Griffiths
  • Ellen Koshland
  • George and Rosa Morstyn
  • Wendy and Mark Rubbo OAM
  • Michael and Radhika Santhanam-Martin
  • Brigitte Smith
  • Wendy Whelan
  • Janet Whiting

Inaugural Conversation Starters:

  • Eric and Sue Beecher
  • Peter Biggs CNZM
  • Wendy and Rod Brooks
  • Julian Burnside
  • Wendy and Tony Hudson
  • Alex and Stephanie Miller
  • Russell Mills
  • Patricia O’Donnell
  • Wendy and Mark Rubbo OAM
  • Di and Andrew Rule
  • Craig Semple
  • Wendy Whelan

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