Ideas and Society in 2023


La Trobe University’s Ideas and Society Program has convened an outstanding panel--to analyse the nature of the current housing crisis in Australia and to try to answer the most basic of all political questions: What Is To Be Done?

For the past decade, mainstream Australian defence policy and its underlying assumptions have been challenged, with both courage and originality, by Professor Hugh White, one of Australia’s pre-eminent defence thinkers. In this Ideas and Society event he will be in conversation about an alternative defence policy with two of Australia’s most respected younger defence analysts, Associate Professor Bec Strating of La Trobe Asia and Sam Roggeveen of the Lowy Institute. For those concerned about Australia’s future, this is an event not to be missed.

Within a matter of months the Australian people will be asked to decide at referendum whether the First Peoples of Australia will be recognised in the Constitution through the establishment of a new institution, an indigenous Voice to Parliament.

It is often said that the humanity of a society is best judged by the ways in which it treats its most vulnerable members.

According to the Convenor of the Ideas and Society Program, Professor Robert Manne: “Our Program is honoured and delighted that our panel on the question of disability and Australia will include one of the Disability Royal Commissioners, Rhonda Galbally, the author of “Lifeboat”, the superb new Quarterly Essay, Micheline Lee, and the Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Disability Network Advocacy Australia, El Gibbs. And we are very grateful that La Trobe University’s Christine Bigby has agreed to lead the discussion and that the La Trobe Vice-Chancellor, John Dewar, has agreed to introduce it.”

IDEAS & SOCIETY - Disability and Australian Society

In Australia, there is much public discussion about US-China relations, prospects of conflict involving Taiwan and implications for Australia’s security. It is only rarely, however, that these conversations involve Taiwanese voices.

La Trobe University is honoured to host an exclusive panel discussion in which Foreign Minister of Taiwan Joseph Wu and Associate Professor Rebecca Strating of La Trobe Asia will discuss Taiwan’s perspectives on key regional security issues and concerns to a global audience.

Why is Taiwan’s security important to the world?

Is Beijing willing to start a war to solidify their claims over Taiwan?

Would the United States and its allies be prepared to go to war if China acts aggressively towards Taiwan?

Should Canberra encourage and aid Washington to attempt to maintain its supremacy in Asia?

How can Taiwan’s democracy best be supported?

What support would Taiwan like to see from the global community?

Registrations for this forum which will afford members of the audience the opportunity to ask Joseph Wu questions of their own are now open and free of charge. Do not miss out on this unique event.

Participating Chair: Dr Rebecca Strating, Executive Director, La Trobe Asia, La Trobe University

Speaker: Jaushieh Joseph Wu, Foreign Minister of Taiwan

IDEAS & SOCIETY - The View from Taiwan

Covid-19 is no longer making many headlines but its impact is very far from over.

According to a recent study, in 2022 Covid was responsible for 10,000 deaths in Australia and was a factor in 3,000 more. Indeed, Covid-19 was "the third most prevalent cause of death in 2022, after heart disease and dementia and above stroke and lung cancer".  There were already 5,000 Covid deaths by September of this year.

According to the Convenor of the Ideas and Society Program, Professor Robert Manne AO: "At a time when the Albanese government has announced an inquiry into the lessons learned during the pandemic, we have decided to convene our third event on Covid and its consequences.

"For this discussion, La Trobe University is extremely well-credentialled.

"Recently a groundbreaking international study showing a genetic component in susceptibility to Covid was published in the prestigious academic science journal, Nature. One of its lead authors was Professor Stephanie Gras, a researcher at La Trobe's Institute for Molecular Science. She will be a member of our panel.

"Another panel member will be La Trobe's Dr Sarah Annesley, who is conducting a study into Long-Covid, an often extremely debilitating condition that, astonishingly enough, affects some ten per cent of those infected by the virus.

"As Covid seems certain to be with us for many years to come, an understanding of Long-Covid is of vital importance for the future health of all societies.

"The third member of the panel will be Professor Michael Toole of the Burnet Institute. Anyone who watched our first two Covid events will be aware of Mike's ability to present a wide-ranging and lucid overview of the effects of Covid-19 on the health of our community, and careful advice on how Covid can be best contained.

"Once again, La Trobe University's Associate Professor Deb Gleeson has generously agreed to moderate the discussion.

"This will be the last Ideas and Society event introduced by our Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Dewar AO, before he concludes his tenure at La Trobe. For the past decade he has offered the Program greatest support. I am exceptionally grateful to him."

This panel is online. It will be held on November 29 from 5.00 pm to 6.30 pm.

For all interested in the medical, social and individual consequences of Covid, this discussion promises fresh perspectives and genuine illumination.

Host: Associate Professor Deb Gleeson, Department of Public Health, La Trobe University


Professor Stephanie Gras, National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Fellow

Professor Michael Toole AM, Associate Principal Research Fellow, Burnet Institute

Dr Sarah Annesley, Tracey Banivanua Mar Senior Research Fellow, Molecular and Cell Biology Laboratory, La Trobe University

IDEAS & SOCIETY - Covid and its Consequences: What Have We Learned?