Sydney Opera House
21 May 2015
33 Days to Go
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2015 Speakers & Performers
Sixteen extraordinary Australians will take to the stage on 21 May to share their stories and spread new ideas and thinking to the world. From the great-great grandson of Charles Darwin to a champion kick boxer and a Director of the International Committee of the Red Cross, this year’s curatorial theme of learning will be explored with great enthusiasm.

 

Hairdresser, social worker

Trans woman Starlady is a youth worker in some of Australia’s most remote and challenging places. Using an unusual set of tools the flamboyant hairdresser spends her time traveling thousands of kilometres across the central desert.

Orthopaedic Surgeon/Writer

Munjed’s ambition to become a world leader in osseointegration surgery started when he was a young child watching “The Terminator” movie. How to combine robotics and humans? This passion inspired him to develop and expand this technology for amputees, to enable mobility, to enhance comfort, reduce pain and to facilitate a better quality of life. To date Munjed has helped more than 108 amputees, trans femoral and trans tibial, mobilize and function with greater ease, comfort and control. Osseointegration enables the amputee to focus on the destination rather than the journey; this in itself has been life changing for all of Munjed’s patients. Munjed is an Australian trained Orthopaedic Surgeon, Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor with Notre Dame University School of Medicine, Sydney. Born in Baghdad, he fled to Australia as a refugee and embarked on his journey to become an Orthopaedic Surgeon on his release from detention centre on 26 August 2000.

Paralympic Basketball medallist, Australian Wheelchair Tennis Champion

Dylan Alcott OAM is a Paralympic gold medalist, World Champion, Grand Slam champion and world record holder for both wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis. In 2008, Dylan won Gold at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic games at the young age of 17, the youngest ever winner of a wheelchair basketball gold medal. In 2013, Dylan switched sports to wheelchair tennis, and in 2015 Dylan won his first grand slam title, the Australian Open. Dylan was born with a large tumor wrapped around his spinal cord, leaving him a paraplegic. He is a keen advocate for people with disabilities, and is an ambassador for the charities Starlight Foundation and Variety which help change the lives of kids with disabilities across the country. Dylan is also a music enthusiast, and is well known for his wheelchair crowdsurfing at music festivals.

Death Row lawyer

Richard Bourke works in Louisiana – America's Deep South – as a Death Row lawyer, defending people who are facing or have already received a death sentence.

Artist

Tega Brain is an artist working at the intersection of art, ecology and engineering. Creating eccentric engineering, her work reimagines quotidian technologies to address and reveal their politics. Her projects have taken the form of site-specific interventions, dysfunctional devices, experimental infrastructures and information representations. They explore the institutions, technologies and interfaces that shape our relationship with environmental systems. Tega is currently a resident at Eyebeam, the leading art and technology center in the United States. She also teaches at the School for Poetic Computation and at the State University of New York. She was recently awarded a Creative Australia Fellowship for early career artists from the Australia Council for the Arts.

Barrister

Julian Burnside joined the Bar in 1976 and took silk in 1989. He specialises in commercial litigation and human rights. He acted for the Ok Tedi natives against BHP, for Alan Bond in fraud trials, for Rose Porteous in numerous actions against Gina Rinehart, and for the Maritime Union of Australia in the 1998 waterfront dispute against Patrick Stevedores. He was the Senior Counsel assisting the Australian Broadcasting Authority in the “Cash for Comment” inquiry. He has acted pro bono in many human rights cases, in particular concerning the treatment of refugees. He is passionately involved in the arts. He collects contemporary paintings and sculptures and regularly commissions music. He is Chair of Fortyfive Downstairs and Chair of Chamber Music Australia. He has written a successful children’s book, Matilda and the Dragon (Allen & Unwin) and a book of essays on language and etymology, Wordwatching – field notes from an amateur philologist, (Scribe, 2004). In 2004 he was elected as a Living National Treasure. In 2009 he was made an Officer of the Order of Australia. In 2014 he was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize. He is married to artist Kate Durham.

Editor of the Macquarie Dictionary

Susan Butler is the Editor of the Macquarie Dictionary. After starting out as a research assistant in 1970, she has been at the helm of the dictionary for more than 30 years.

Martial Arts Sensei & champion fighter

Sensei Nadine Champion is a martial artist with almost 30 years experience. An undefeated fighter and inspirational teacher, she is dedicated to applying what she has learned in and out of the boxing ring to transform not only people's physical health but the way they think and feel about themselves.

Nature Conservationist

Chris Darwin is a great great grandson of Charles Darwin. He has a BSc (Hons) in Psychology and Physical Geography. Two of his expeditions were world firsts, the first Round Britain Windsurf expedition and the World’s highest dinner party on top of Peru’s highest mountain – an event that was only marred by the wine freezing and two of the guests getting hypothermia during dessert. He has written two books and taken the photographs for three books. He started the first London bicycle rickshaw company, then worked in advertising, following by 20 years as a mountain guide. He financed the creation of the 68,000 hectare Charles Darwin Reserve in Western Australia, he has raised over $1.3 million for charities and is the Ambassador of Bush Heritage Australia. He has never felt greater love that he does for his wife and three children. His big hairy audacious goal in life is to prevent the Global Mass Extinction of Species. Early in life Chris’ grandmother gave him some advice, ‘If you cannot be first, be peculiar.’ As you will see he took this advice seriously.

Actor, speaker, cultural advisor

Alec is a descendant of Waanyi, Garawa and Gangalidda tribes from the Aboriginal community of Doomadgee in the Gulf of Carpentaria QLD. He was born and raised on the Waanyi/Garawa Land Trust with his extended family. After many years as a radio announcer, including as part of the National Indigenous Radio Service Sydney Olympics broadcast in 2000, Alec decided to follow his dream to become an actor. Since then, he has starred in numerous television and film productions, notably opposite Leah Purcell in the award-winning drama series Redfern Now on the ABC. In 2013 Alec went on a spiritual “Walkabout” to North America, where he created a pathway between ancient cultures, spending time with the Native Americans in Arizona, South Dakota, Montana and Alberta, Canada. Alec has been working on a feature documentary called “Zach’s Ceremony” for the past 10 years – he promises it’s due out soon!

Director, International law and co-operation, International Committee of the Red Cross

Australian born and raised, Dr Helen Durham is the first woman to head International Law and Policy at the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Design Theorist and Philosopher

Tony Fry BA (Hons) Design, MA, PhD Cultural Studies, is a designer, design theorist, cultural theorist, educator and author. He is the creator of The Studio at the Edge of the World, Adjunct Professor, Griffith University, and a contributing editor of the e-journal Design Philosophy Papers. As a consultant, Tony has worked in many areas of design, sustainability and futures for the corporate sector, professional organizations and government. Currently he is working on project in Cairo and with Ibagué University (Colombia) Tony is the author of twelve books, has edited three, has essays in twenty-four collections and has over 200 published articles and conference papers. His book City Future in the Age of a Changing Climate was published in Europe and the USA in October 2014. Currently he is working on a commissioned book on Remaking Cities, based on the concept of ‘Metrofitting’. His books on Design and the Question of History, jointly authored with Clive Dilnot and Susan Steward, and Steel: A Design, Cultural and Ecological History, jointly authored with Anne-Marie Willis were published in early 2015.

Professor

Dr. Daniel Pauly was born in Paris, but he completed his high school and university studies in Germany. After many years at the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM), in Manila, Philippines, in 1994 Dr. Pauly became a Professor at the Fisheries Centre of the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, Canada), of which he was the Director from 2003 to 2003. Since 1999, he is also Principal Investigator of the Sea Around Us project, which is devoted to studying documenting and mitigating the impact of industrial fishing on the world’s marine ecosystems. The concepts, methods and software that Dr. Pauly co-developed, documented in over 500 heavily-cited publications, are used throughout the world, following multiple courses and workshops given in four languages on all five continents. This applies especially to the ELEFAN software for fish growth analysis, the Ecopath approach for modelling aquatic ecosystems, FishBase, the online encyclopedia of fishes. This work is recognized in various profiles, notably in Science, Nature and the New York Times, and by numerous awards, notably the International Cosmos Prize (Japan, 2005), the Volvo Environmental Prize, (Sweden, 2006), the Ramon Margalef Prize (Spain, 2008) and the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest (US, 2012).

Toilet supplier

The king of the compost toilet, Hamish Skermer knows a thing or two about how to deal with human waste. The Australian entrepreneur invented his own environmentally friendly dry toilet 15 years ago which has since been used at some of the world’s biggest music festivals including Glastonbury, the Falls and Meredith festivals in Australia.

Neurosurgeon

Charlie Teo is an inspirational neurosurgeon, pushing the boundaries to the point where the medical fraternity shun him. He gives people hope, time and life. Charlie is an internationally acclaimed neurosurgeon and a pioneer in keyhole minimally invasive techniques. He founded the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation (formerly the Cure for Life Foundation) in 2003, which, for the last 10 years, has been the largest funder of brain cancer research in Australia and which supports the Neuro-oncology wing of the Lowy Cancer Centre. As passionate about teaching as performing surgery, Charlie has been awarded Best Teacher awards in both the USA and Australia and devotes three months of every year instructing and doing live surgery pro bono in developing countries. In 2013, he was the first non-politician Australian to address the US Congress on the need for more funding for brain cancer research. Charlie is a father to four beautiful girls, husband to a very understanding wife, Genevieve, and supports the rights of girls and young women in impoverished countries through various charities including the Teo Family Foundation.

Professor of Medieval English Literature

Prof. Stephanie Trigg is Professor of Medieval English Literature at the University of Melbourne. She is also interested in the long afterlife of medieval literature and culture and has published studies on the reading history of Geoffrey Chaucer (Congenial Souls: Reading Chaucer from Medieval to Postmodern) and the cultural history of the Order of the Garter (Shame and Honor: A Vulgar History of the Order of the Garter), as well as her book, Gwen Harwood and her edited collection, Medievalism and the Gothic in Australian Culture. She is a Chief Investigator and one of four program leaders with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, and is working on several projects for the centre: a study of the representation of emotion on the human face in English literature; and an affective history of bluestone in Melbourne and Victoria.

Creative Director, Google Creative Lab

Tom Uglow has worked at Google for nearly 8 years, starting Google’s Creative Lab in Europe and, since 2012, building a Creative Lab in Sydney, Australia. His team work on experimental projects that help connect people and that use Google, Android and YouTube's products in creative ways. Previous projects include Hangouts in History, Dream40 with the RSC, buildwithchrome.com, Web Lab, Life in a Day, and the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Most of his projects are collaborations with charities, agencies and cultural organizations around the world that help artists and creators explore new forms of creative practice using digital tools. Tom speaks on innovation around the world; tweets, posts and blogs on digital creativity; he is a trustee of D&AD and AWARD and has judged, presented, and enthused on TV, online, and in print. He is a Sunday-coder, a traditional creative, and a fuzzy strategist. Occasionally he knits.