Speaker Profiles

Listed below are the profiles of our distinguished speakers.

Noel Pearson

Noel Pearson comes from the Guugu Yimidhirr community of Hope Vale on south eastern Cape
York Peninsula. Mr Pearson is a lawyer, and Founder and Director of Strategy of the Cape York

Mr Pearson also co-founded the Cape York Land Council, and helped to establish
Apunipima Health Council, Balkanu Cape York Development Corporation and Indigenous Enterprise Partnerships.

Mr Pearson served as a member of the Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians and the Referendum Council.

Prof Peter Tregear OAM

Professor Peter Tregear OAM is a Principal Fellow of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music and the inaugural Director of Little Hall, University of Melbourne. He worked extensively across Australia and the United Kingdom

 as a performer, teacher, and educational advocate. A graduate of the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, he subsequently undertook doctoral studies at King’s College, University of Cambridge, and from 2000 to 2006 was Lecturer and Director of Music at Fitzwilliam College.

Since returning to Australia in 2006 he has served as Executive Director of the Academy of Performing Arts at Monash University and Head of the School of Music at the Australian National University and has performed as a soloist or conductor with Melbourne Opera, Victorian Opera, Kronos Quartet, The Rolling Stones, Australian Chamber Orchestra, and Australian Youth Orchestra, among other leading ensembles.  He also remains active as a teacher and academic, and is currently the convenor of the International Centre for Suppressed Music at Royal Holloway, University of London, which promotes the recovery of the history and music of composers and performers who were banned, exiled, or murdered as a result of the rise of Fascism in Europe. Published work include Ernst Krenek and the Politics of Musical Style (2013) and Enlightenment or Entitlement: Rethinking Tertiary Music Education (2014). In 2019 he conducted the Australian premiere of Krenek’s Zeitoper ‘Jonny spielt auf’ to international acclaim.  Earlier this year he was awarded a Medal (OAM) of the Order of Australia for services to music education.

Ita Buttrose AC OBE

Ita Buttrose has held executive and editing roles for major Australian media companies including Australian Consolidated Press, News Ltd and Fairfax, and has run her own media company, Capricorn Publishing. She has served on the boards of Australian Consolidated Press, News Corp Australia, and Television & Telecasters Pty Ltd. (Network TEN). She has worked in print, radio and television and has written 11 books. She was inducted into the Australian Media Hall of Fame in 2017.

A founding member and former president of Chief Executive Women, Ita is a committed community and welfare contributor. She chaired Arthritis Australia from 2003 to 2006 and later Alzheimer’s (now Dementia) Australia from 2011 to 2014 and is now National Ambassador for Dementia Australia. She is Chair of The Australian Mental Health Prize Advisory Group.

She has been a member of the Sydney Symphony Council since 2010 and served as a Trustee of Centennial and Moore Park Trust in Sydney from 2012 to 2020. She is a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

Peter Baldwin

Peter Baldwin first became involved in politics as a factional activist in the Australian Labor Party (ALP) in the early 1970s. This led to a parliamentary career, first as a member of the NSW Legislative Council, then a long stint as the federal MP for the inner-city seat of Sydney that included six years as a minister in federal Labor governments.

Throughout his political career he was affiliated with the Left faction of the ALP and participated in many debates about policy and ideology. In recent years he has become profoundly disturbed by the turn to ‘identity politics’ in leftist politics, and in society more generally.

He sees this ideology as atavistic and reactionary, the antithesis of what decent progressive politics should be about, and has made this case in a number of articles and speeches.

Professor Bettany Hughes

Professor Bettany Hughes is an award-winning historian, author and broadcaster, who has devoted the last 25 years to the vibrant communication of the past. Her speciality is ancient and mediaeval history and culture. A Scholar at Oxford University she has taught at Oxford and Cambridge Universities and lectured at Cornell, Bristol, UCL, Maastricht, Utrecht, Manchester and Swansea. She is a Tutor for Cambridge University’s Institute of Continuing Education, a Research Fellow of King’s College London and recently joined the New College of the Humanities as Professor of History.

Her first book Helen of Troy: Goddess, Princess, Whore has been translated into ten languages. Her second, The Hemlock Cup, Socrates, Athens and the Search for the Good Life was a New York Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Writer’s Guild Award. Her latest book Istanbul – A Tale of Three Cities was shortlisted for the Runciman Award and was a Sunday Times bestseller. Istanbul – A Tale of Three Cities has already been translated into twelve languages. She has written and presented over 50 TV and radio documentaries for the BBC, Channel 4, Netflix, Discovery, PBS, The History Channel, National Geographic, BBC World and ITV. Her programmes have now been seen by over 250 million worldwide. 

Lionel Shriver

A prolific journalist with a column in The Spectator magazine, Lionel Shriver has published one collection and thirteen novels, including the bestsellers The Mandibles: A Family, 2029-2047, Big Brother, So Much for ThatThe Post-Birthday World, and the Orange-Prize winner We Need to Talk About Kevin (a 2011 feature film starring Tilda Swinton). 

Her latest novel is The Motion of the Body Through Space (2020), with the forthcoming Should We Stay or Should We Go scheduled for June of 2021. Her work has been translated into over 30 languages.

Professor Andrew Roberts

Professor Andrew Roberts read Modern History at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, from where he is a PhD. He has written over a dozen books including Salisbury: Victorian Titan (which won the Wolfson Prize) Masters and Commanders (which won the International Churchill Society Book Award), The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War (which won the British Army Military Book of the Year Award), Napoleon the Great (which won the Grand Prix of the Fondation Napoléon and The Los Angeles Times Biography Prize) and Churchill: Walking with Destiny, which won the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Prize. Dr Roberts is the Roger & Martha Mertz Visiting Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford, the Lehrman Institute Distinguished Lecturer at the New-York Historical Society, a visiting professor at the Department of War Studies at King’s College, London, and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the Royal Historical Society. He lives in London. His website is www.andrew-roberts.net

Emeritus Professor John Fitzgerald AM

Before joining Swinburne in 2013 John served five years as Representative of The Ford Foundation in Beijing where he directed the Foundation’s China operations. Before that, he was Head of the School of Social Sciences at La Trobe University and before that again directed the International Centre of Excellence in Asia-Pacific Studies at the Australian National University. In Canberra he served as Chair of the Education Committee of the Australia-China Council of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, as chair of the Committee for National and International Cooperation of the Australian Research Council, and as International Secretary of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. He is currently the President of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. His research focuses on territorial government and civil society in China and on Australia’s Asian diasporas. His publications have won international recognition, including the Joseph Levenson Prize of the US Association for Asian Studies and the Ernest Scott Prize of the Australian Historical Association.

John Bell AO OBE

John BellJohn Bell AO OBE has been a major influence on the development of Australian theatre in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He is one of the nation’s most illustrious theatre personalities. Award-winning actor, acclaimed director, risk-taking impresario, torch-bearing educationalist and speaker on leadership; John has been a key figure in shaping the nation’s theatrical identity as we know it over the past 50 years.

John founded The Bell Shakespeare Company in 1990 where he served as Director until 2015. His productions include over 15 of Shakespeare’s greatest works, which have been played to almost 2.5 million Australians.

John Bell has received recognition from many bodies for his leadership and significant contributions to national culture. He is an Officer of the Order of Australia and the Order of the British Empire; has an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the Universities of Sydney, New South Wales and Newcastle; and was recognised in 1997 by the National Trust of Australia as one of Australia’s Living Treasures.

Anastasia Lin

Anastasia LinAnastasia Lin is an award-winning actress, beauty pageant titleholder, and human rights advocate. In 2015, Lin won the Miss World Canada title, and was to represent Canada at the Miss World pageant in China. However, she was refused a visa and declared a persona non grata by Chinese authorities for her outspoken views on the country’s human rights violations. The news of her rejection—and subsequent attempt to enter China—caused global media attention for weeks, leading to a front page article in The New York Times and op-eds in major newspapers. Since then, she has been invited to speak at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, the Oxford Union, United Nations Human Rights Council, the Geneva Human Rights Summit, Oslo Freedom Forum and has testified in the US Congress, the UK Parliament, and the Taiwanese Legislative Assembly.

Lin has appeared in over 20 films and television productions. She often works at the confluence of activism and acting, playing roles that carry messages of freedom, human rights, and ethics. Her films have received the Gabriel Award for Best Feature Film, the Mexico International Film Festival’s Golden Palm Award, and the California’s Indie Fest Award of Merit. Lin also won the Best Leading Actress in a TV Movie at the Leo Awards in 2016. As a model, she’s made appearances on runways around the world, including the New York Fashion Week show at the prestigious Waldorf-Astoria.

Lin has been listed as one of the “Top 25 under 25” by MTV, a “Top 60 under 30” by Flare, and called “The Badass Beauty Queen” by Marie Claire. She was one of eleven stakeholders selected to meet with Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird upon the establishment of Canada’s Office of Religious Freedom. Her articles have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Globe and Mail, The Daily Telegraph and other major newspapers.

Rachel Fulton Brown

Rachel Fulton BrownRachel Fulton Brown is Associate Professor of History at the University of Chicago, where she has taught since 1994. She is the author of From Judgment to Passion: Devotion to Christ and the Virgin Mary, 800-1200, and Mary and the Art of Prayer: The Hours of the Virgin in Medieval Christian Life and Thought, as well as co-editor of History in the Comic Mode: Medieval Communities and the Matter of Person, all published by Columbia University Press. She writes for the public on her blog Fencing Bear at Prayer. She has appeared on numerous videos, podcasts, and radio shows over the past several years, talking about her conversion to Catholicism and her role in the culture wars. Her engagements with her colleagues in academia have been recounted in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, The New York Times, and First Things.

Jonathan Haidt

Jonathan HaidtJonathan Haidt (pronounced “height”) is a social psychologist at New York University’s Stern School of Business. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1992 and taught for 16 years in the department of psychology at the University of Virginia.

Haidt’s research examines the intuitive foundations of morality, and how morality varies across cultures––including the cultures of progressive, conservatives, and libertarians. His goal is to help people understand each other, live and work near each other, and even learn from each other despite their moral differences. Haidt has co-founded a variety of organizations and collaborations that apply moral and social psychology toward that end, including HeterodoxAcademy.org, OpenMindPlatform.org, and CivilPolitics.org.

Haidt is the author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom, and of The New York Times bestsellers The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion, and The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas are Setting Up a Generation for Failure (co-authored with Greg Lukianoff). His next book is tentatively titled Three Stories about Capitalism: The Moral Psychology of Economic Life.

Helen Pluckrose

Helen PluckroseHelen Pluckrose is the editor-in-chief of Areo, a digital magazine focusing on humanism, reason, science, culture and art. She is a political and cultural writer and commentator and her most popular essays include “How French Intellectuals Ruined the West: Postmodernism Explained,” “No, Liberal Lefties are Not Right-Wing,” and, with James A. Lindsay, “A Manifesto Against the Enemies of Modernity.” Helen is an exile from the humanities with research interests in late medieval and early modern women’s religious writing. She got her Bachelor degree in English literature from the University of East London and her Masters in Early Modern Studies, 1300-1700, from Queen Mary University London. She recently took part in the “Grievance Studies Affair” with James A. Lindsay and Peter Boghossian. The trio got seven absurd, unevidenced and unethical papers accepted by academic journals in order to demonstrate the problem with scholarship in identity/cultural studies. Helen is currently writing a book about the problems with epistemology and ethics on the academic left. A left-wing liberal secularist, Helen constantly criticises illiberalism and irrationalism on the left and right. 

Rod Dreher

Rod DreherRod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in St. Francisville, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option

Greg Sheridan

Greg SheridanGreg Sheridan, The Australian’s foreign editor, is one of the nation’s most influential national security commentators, who is active across television and radio and also writes extensively on culture. He has written seven books. His latest, God is Good for You: A Defence of Christianity in Troubled Times, is a passionate defence of religious belief in a secular age. It is a bestseller with 7 reprints to date. Before that, When We Were Young and Foolish was an entertaining memoir of culture, politics and journalism. As foreign editor, he specialises in Asia. He has interviewed Presidents and Prime Ministers across the world.

‘In 2016 Greg was appointed an Officer in the Order of Australia for commentary on national security and contributions to Australia’s bilateral relations. He was a Visiting Fellow at CSIS in Washington in 2004 and 2005, then a Visiting Scholar at Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars in Washington in 2010. As a journalist he has had articles published in Sunday Times, Wall St Journal, The Chesterton Review, The Hindu, The South China Morning Post and The Jakarta Post.

Professor Fiona Wood

Fiona WoodProfessor Fiona Wood’s journey of over 3 decades treating people with burn injuries is a story about her passion, dedication and belief in striving for excellence to improve the outcomes of patients by bringing science to the bedside.

Fiona Wood is a Plastic & Reconstructive Surgeon specialising in the field of burn care, trauma and scar reconstruction. As Director of the WA Burns Service of Western Australia she is consultant at Perth Children’s and Fiona Stanley Hospitals.

As Director of Burns Research, she leads an interdisciplinary team with broad collaboration focused on translation to improve clinical outcomes. She has been the recipient of the 2003 Australian Medical Association’ Contribution to Medicine’ Award and an Order of Australia Medal for work with Bali bombing victims. As a National Living Treasure and Australian Citizen of the Year in 2004, she received the honour of being named Australian of the Year in 2005.

Fiona and Marie Stoner, co-founders of Clinical Cell Culture, now Avitamedical, won the 2005 Clunies Ross Award for their contributions to Medical Science in Australia.

Henry Ergas

Henry ErgasHenry Ergas is a consultant economist and weekly opinions columnist for ‘The Australian’ newspaper.  Prior to this Henry held concurrent roles as Professor of Infrastructure Economics at the SMART Infrastructure Facility, University of Wollongong and Deloitte Australia’s Senior Economic Adviser. From 1978 to 1993 Henry was at the OECD in Paris where amongst other roles he headed the Secretary-General’s Task Force on Structural Adjustment and was Counsellor for Structural Policy in the Economics Department. He has taught at a wide range of universities, including the École nationale de la statistique et de l’administration économique in Paris (1980-1990), the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard (1994-1995) and Monash University in Melbourne (1988-1990). He chaired the Intellectual Property and Competition Policy Review undertaken by the Howard government in 1999-2001, and was a member of the Export Infrastructure Review in 2005. In 2016 Henry was awarded an Order of Australia for distinguished service to infrastructure economics, higher education, public policy development and review, and as a supporter of emerging artists.

Panayiotis (Pano) Kanelos

Panos KanelosPanayiotis (Pano) Kanelos was appointed President of St Johns College, Annapolis in July of 2017 and is responsible for strategic leadership and works collaboratively with academic and administrative colleagues to promote the value of the college’s distinctive interdisciplinary curriculum in the course of outreach, student recruitment, and fundraising, among other areas.

Previously Kanelos served as the dean of Christ College, the Honors College of Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana, where he was responsible for the strategic leadership, coordination, and guidance of Christ College. He also managed the recruitment and admissions process, which included initiatives to expand diversity that led the college to achieve its largest and most diverse enrolment to date. Concurrently, he oversaw the administration and finances of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, a network of 100 colleges and universities that advances liberal arts education through conferences, workshops, publications, and fellowships.

Kanelos has a distinguished background as an educator and administrator who has developed innovative programs. An ardent Shakespeare fan and scholar, he has authored and edited numerous books, articles, and essays on Shakespeare, including the “Shakespeare and the Stage” series, published by Rowman & Littlefield.

Kanelos holds a Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at University of Chicago, a M.A. in Political Philosophy and Literature from the University Professors Program at Boston University, and a B.A. in English from Northwestern University.

John Carroll

John CarrollJohn Carroll is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. He has degrees in mathematics, economics and sociology from the universities of Melbourne and Cambridge. His work focuses on culture, and its crucial role in the human search for meaning, with particular reference to the modern Western society.

His recent books include The Western Dreaming, Terror—a Meditation on the Meaning of September 11, The Wreck of Western Culture—Humanism Revisited, The Existential Jesus, Ego and Soul—the Modern West in Search of Meaning,  Greek Pilgrimage—In Search of the Foundations of the West, and Land of the Golden Cities—Australia’s Exceptional Prosperity and the Culture that Made It. John Carroll is also a frequent writer of essays and newspaper articles. He has recently published articles in the Saturday Australian on Cultural Masochism in the West, The Sopranos and Deadwood, Essendon Drugs Saga, Patriotism, Paris Turns In on Itself, Anguish is Exquisite for Wielders of 18C,  Why We Still Love Getting Married, The Birth of Meaning, and Denial of the Best of the West.

He delivered one of the Alfred Deakin Federation Lectures in 2001—a reflection on Australian culture titled ‘The Blessed Country’. He chaired the Panel reviewing the National Museum of Australia in 2003. Metaphysical Sociology, a book on his work, edited by Sara James, was published in 2018.

David Malouf

David MaloufDavid Malouf is an Australian writer. He is widely recognized as one of Australia’s greatest writers. He was awarded the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 2000, his 1993 novel Remembering Babylon won the International Dublin Literary Award in 1996, he won the inaugural Australia-Asia Literary Award in 2008, and he was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. In 2016, he received the Australia Council Award for Lifetime Achievement in Literature.

Professor Geoffrey Blainey

Geoffrey BlaineyProfessor Geoffrey Blainey is one of Australia’s most prolific and popular historians. He has written more than forty books, including The Tyranny of Distance, Triumph of the Nomads, A Shorter History of Australia, The Rush That Never Ended, and the international bestseller A Short History of the World, which was published in a score of lands as far apart as Brazil, India, Spain and China. He has served the federal government as chairman of the Commonwealth Literary Fund, the Australia Council for the Arts, the National Council for the Centenary of Federation, and the Australia–China Council.

At the United Nations in New York, in 1988, Professor Blainey received the celebrated Britannica Prize ‘for excellence in the dissemination of knowledge for the benefit of mankind’. A recipient of Australia’s highest honour, Companion in the Order of Australia (AC), he has been officially listed for two decades by the National Trust as a ‘National Living Treasure’. He is married to the well-known biographer Ann Blainey.