About Ideas and Society

Many Australians believe that their country could behave more generously and justly, both at home and abroad. Some have lost confidence in our politicians and even our political system. This year La Trobe University’s Ideas & Society Program, convened by Professor Robert Manne, will investigate in depth the reasons for this public disquiet and, more importantly, will try to answer the question: how can a better Australia be built?

We have invited those people we believe have earned the respect of their fellow Australians to speak to us.

2018 at a glance

March 19 - Looking Outward: The Case for Compassion and Hope

Tim Costello and Conny Lenneberg considered why in recent years Australia has failed to fulfill its regional and global responsibilities. Watch the video.

May 3 - How human rights can be extended and defended

Gillian Triggs, the former president of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission, and Julian Burnside, one of our most eloquent asylum seeker advocates, examined the failures of our current human rights regime. Watch the video.

June 14 - Indigenous Australians: The promise of the future

Noel Pearson, who some regard as our nation’s most original thinker, and Megan Davis, a distinguished younger Indigenous leader, outlined prospects for long-delayed Indigenous constitutional recognition. Watch the video.

July 16 - Challenges Facing Australian Governance

Kevin Rudd drawed on his very considerable experience, as a popular and then deposed Prime Minister, suggesting, in conversation with the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department Rudd selected, Terry Moran, how our political system could work more efficiently and how trust in our politicians might be restored. Watch the video.

September 27 - The climate change emergency: what can be done?

Tim Flannery, the Chair of the Climate Commission and author of the seminal Weather Makers, will speak about how far Australia and other nations have risen to the most daunting challenge of our era, climate change. Watch the video.

October 11 - The Unfinished Feminist Revolutions; #MeToo and the Forgotten Women

Two widely published writers and social critics, Jane Caro and Anne Manne, will turn their attention on the unfinished revolution of gender justice and equality. Watch the video.

November 14 - Social Justice in the Neoliberal Age

Cassandra Goldie and Father Frank Brennan will speak on the theme of social justice and consider what still needs to be done for Australia to become what many like to believe we already are: the land of the fair-go.

Download the full Ideas and Society Program