Derek Readman Series – previous

Readman Series #36

“A Peculiar Language”
Early Australian English and Beyond

Professor Kate Burridge
Kate Burridge

2 pm
Thursday, 12 October 2023

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Edward Wakefield, in his Letter from Sydney (1829), used the description “a peculiar language” to portray the pot-pourrie of different dialects that eventually gave rise to Australian English. This talk will look at some of the early factors that shaped this peculiar language, as well as some of the factors that are shaping it today.

Kate Burridge is Professor of Linguistics at Monash University and Fellow of both the Australian Academy of the Humanities and the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. Her main areas of research are language change (focus on changing vocabulary and grammar), the notion of linguistic taboo, the structure and history of English, popular perceptions of language (and fall-out).

She has authored / edited more than 25 books on different aspects of language. Her most recent books are: Forbidden Words: Taboo and the censoring of language (with Keith Allan, 2006); Gift of the Gob: Morsels of English language history (2010); Wrestling with Words and Meanings (with Réka Benczes, 2014); Understanding Language Change (with Alex Bergs 2018); Introducing English Grammar (with Kersti Börjars, 2019); For the Love of Language (with Tonya Stebbins 2019); Exploring the Ecology of World Englishes in the Twenty-First Century (with Pam Peters 2021).

Kate is a regular presenter of language segments on radio and writes for The Conversation; she was a weekly panelist on ABC TV’s Can We Help (2007-11) and has given a TEDx Talk Telling it like it isn’t (

Readman Series #35

Three Years in Beijing: Living and travelling in China

David Walker AM

2 pm
Thursday, 15 June 2023

David Walker AM is an Australian historian who has for many years carried out research on Australia’s responses to Asia from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. He has travelled widely in Asia including Indonesia, Japan and India. From 2013 to 2016, he spent three years living in Beijing as the inaugural BHP Professor of Australian Studies at Peking University.

During this time, he taught classes on Australian history and culture to Chinese students at Peking University and at other universities in Beijing.

He travelled extensively through China visiting many Australian Studies Centres throughout the country and became good friends with Professor Li Yao, the foremost translator of Australian writing into Chinese. According to the Chinese zodiac, both men are Roosters, of the same age but one was born in Adelaide, South Australia, the other in Li Village, Inner Mongolia. David and Li Yao have recently completed a dual memoir and family history: Happy Together: bridging the Australia China divide (MUP, 2022).

Readman Series #34

“Inspiration and the art of Victor Majzner”


Victor Majzner

Thursday, 29 September

Victor Majzner is a celebrated and acclaimed Australian artist. His work is held in public collections, including at the National Gallery of Victoria, the Heide Museum of Modern Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, as well as in many regional collections across Australia.  He is the recipient of many art awards and has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions.

Victor works with water colours, drawing, oils and acrylics and is inspired by a wide range of moral and ethical issues: identity, spirituality, the plight of the oppressed, the land and environmental degradation. He is part of the emerging genre of contemporary Jewish art and has ongoing connections with First Nations artists, having visited remote communities in central Australia, Arnhem Land and the Kimberley. 

Readman Series #33

Sexual abuse in a culture of silence

Dr Peter Evans

Thursday, 21 April 2022

Dr Peter Evans is a former catholic priest and retired psychiatrist who will discuss the psychological and socio-cultural determinants of sexual abuse within Australian society and which takes place in a culture of silence that is both a result and part cause of the abuse itself.

Dr Peter Evans graduated in medicine from Sydney University in 1957. In 1960 he entered the Franciscan Order to study for the priesthood. He was ordained a priest in 1967 and in 1969 commenced postgraduate studies in psychiatry at Saint Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney. In 1973 he was admitted as a fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. He left the priesthood in 1976 and became a consultant psychiatrist at the Priory Hospital in London. In 1978 he returned to Melbourne where he practiced psychiatry for a period of 30 years before his retirement. He is married to Gerda, a registered nurse, and they have four sons. He has recently given evidence before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Readman Series #32

Black Saturday – Love and loss and learning silence

Sue Gunningham

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Sue Gunningham lost her partner Barry in Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. Her memoir “All the Days After” documents the devastation caused by the fires, her journey through grief and the lesser-known aspects of such a tragedy – including the frustrating and often unhelpful bureaucracy confronting bewildered survivors of a major disaster.

“Waldene – Love in the Shadows”, her latest memoir, blends prose, poetry and love letters to tell the story of the couple’s 18 year romance before the fires.

Sue will describe some of the challenges she faced in the 12 months following the fires and beyond, and talk about the people who she encountered on the journey from loss to rebuild, depression to happiness and what she learnt from the experience.

Readman Series #31

Gender equality in local government

Councillor Coral Ross

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Coral Ross

Councillor Coral Ross was one of Victoria’s longest serving councillors, first elected to Boroondara Council in 2002.

She served three terms as mayor, earning the distinguished title of Mayor Emeritus. In addition to her service on Boroondara Council, Coral was on the board of the Australian Local Government Association for two years. She was also a board member and interim president of the Municipal Association of Victoria.

Coral is President of the Australian Local Government Women’s Association and was previously the president of its Victorian chapter. The Association’s mission is to support women to participate in local government. Coral is also Deputy Chair of the Australian Gender Equality Council and a director of the National Rural Women’s Coalition.

In 2018, she was awarded a prestigious Churchill Fellowship to improve gender equality in local government. Coral has travelled to the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Germany in 2019/20 to investigate ways of increasing the number of women elected to local governments. Her Readman talk will cover the experience of her Churchill Fellowship

Readman Series #30

The war on drugs and its challenges

CEO John Ryan

Thursday, 17 September 2020

John Ryan, CEO, Penington Institute
CEO, Penington Institute

John is a leader in public health and safety and the inaugural CEO of Penington Institute.

He actively works to promote sensible approaches to drug use in the community including with media and by providing expert advice, including to governments.

He is a member of the Victorian Government’s Medically Supervised Injecting Room Review Panel, an innovative trial conducted in North Richmond.

Having previously worked as a university researcher, government policy-maker, and in frontline service delivery as a needle and syringe program worker, John is now President of London-based Harm Reduction International (HRI). HRI is a leading non-governmental organisation focused on reducing the negative health, social and human rights impacts of drug use and drug policy.

John holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from Monash University. In 2012, he received a Churchill Fellowship to study ways to enhance public health approaches to drug policy. 

Readman Series #29

From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage:
How Australia got compulsory voting

Thursday, 16 July 2020

Professor Judith Brett
Professor Judith Brett

Judith Brett is a political historian whose writing has focussed on the non-labour side of Australian politics. She is the author of Robert Menzies’ Forgotten People (1992), Australian Liberals and the Moral Middle Class: From Alfred Deakin to John Howard (2003), and in 2018 published The Enigmatic Mr Deakin, to complete a trilogy of books on the history of Australian Liberals. Her biography of Alfred Deakin, the first full length study of the man in more than fifty years, won the 2018 national Biography Award.

During the 1980s Judith was editor of the literary journal Meanjin. In 1989 she joined the Politics department at La Trobe University where she taught Australian politics, public policy and political biography. In the 1990s she started commenting on contemporary Australian politics in the media, using her knowledge of Australian history to throw light on current events, and she continues to do so. She wrote a regular column for The Age for a number of years, has written three Quarterly Essays and is currently working on another. She writes regularly for The Monthly.

In her Readman talk Judith will talk about her recent book, From Secret Ballot to Democracy Sausage: How Australia got compulsory voting, which looks at the history of Australia’s distinctive electoral system. We invented the ballot paper and the compartmentalised voting booth. It is compulsory to register to vote as
well as to vote. We use preferential rather than first past the post voting. We vote on Saturdays and have great flexibility as to where we cast our votes. Our elections are administered by impartial public servants.

These all grew from Australians early commitment to majoritarian democracy – to governments that are elected by the majority of voters not just the majority of those who turn up. We might not always like the results of our elections, but the process is a democratic triumph.

Readman Series #28

Australian Suffragettes in the UK

Myra Scott

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Myra Scott: How Australia led the way

In 2002 Myra Scott was commissioned by the Commonwealth Office of Status of Women, Canberra to write a book about the Suffrage Banner in Parliament House, Canberra, in order to celebrate the Centenary of suffrage in Australia. She had completed her MA some years before about the artist Dora Meeson Coates and her husband George Coates.

Until this book was published virtually nothing had been known of the part Australian women and their male politicians played to help British women achieve the vote.

Soon after its foundation in 1901, the Commonwealth of Australia gave women the vote and the right to sit in Parliament. With great vigour, Australian women, including the Melbourne-born artist Dora Meeson Coates, ably involved themselves with the women’s movement in Great Britain. With astounding presumption, the Australian Parliament sent a Resolution to its Westminster counterpart recommending that women’s suffrage be adopted.

Myra Scott vividly describes the increasingly active women’s movement in England, the opposition to it by menfolk generally, the British Prime Minister’s personal bias against it, Australia’s part in this scenario, Meeson’s activism – and her rousing Suffrage Banner.

Readman Series #27

A talk/performance on Classical Music and Improvised Music:
Connections and Disconnections and the consequences in Music Education

Tony Gould AM

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Tony Gould

Pianist/composer/critic/author/academic/educator Tony Gould has been involved in music in Australia for over half a century. He began his academic career as a senior tutor at Melbourne. He then lectured at the Victorian College of the Arts, eventually becoming dean of the VCA’s School of Music. He is currently adjunct professor in Monash University’s Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music.

A prolific performer, composer and recording artist across several musical genres of art music, Gould has performed in the UK, Europe, USA and India. He has composed works for, and performed with, Melbourne Symphony, Queensland Symphony, Queensland Symphony and Orchestra Victoria.

He has an Order of Australia (AM) for his service to music.

Readman Series #26

Gifting Time, Talent and Treasure in Cambodia

Thursday, 15 August 2019

Susie Lachal
Susie Lachal

For the past 14 years Susie Lachal has been travelling to Cambodia, volunteering with Teachers Across Borders Australia Inc. She will talk about the achievements of this community-based organisation that has been assisting with capacity building for the rural poor.

In Cambodia, 90% of the poor live in the rural areas. Australian teachers volunteer their time and talent to conduct workshops with practicing Cambodian teachers, teacher trainees and principals, addressing the Cambodian National Curriculum. These dedicated Australian teachers pay for their own airfares and accommodation and raise $1,200AUD to conduct 5-day workshops for 20 Cambodians each year.

Readman Series #25

Animal Health for Remote Indigenous Communities

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Ted Donelan
Dr Ted Donelan

Dr Ted Donelan is a veterinarian now based in Port Fairy, having operated private practices in Melbourne for more than 30 years. He is a Fellow of the Australian Veterinary Association, a Senior Academic Associate of the University of Melbourne and Life Member of RSPCA Victoria.

Ted has always been interested in animal welfare and the relationships between animals and their human companions. He was a founding director of the Delta Society in Australia in 1987, and has a long record of contribution to animal welfare issues and urban animal management at local, state and national levels.

Ted has also had decades of involvement in Indigenous affairs. For the past sixteen years he has provided a veterinary service including a comprehensive dog health program to the remote Indigenous community of Maningrida, which with its outstations encompasses an area of some 10,000 square kilometers in the Northern Territory. Following these interests, it was a natural progression to involvement in Animal Management in Rural and Remote Indigenous Communities, where Ted served on the Board for eleven years including six as President.

Readman Series #24

Lighter Footprints

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Carolyn Ingvarson, Lighter Footsteps
Carolyn Ingvarson

Carolyn has a background as a secondary school biology teacher and as a public servant with the Victorian Government. She has worked in state training, in occupational health and safety, and in industry facilitation.

As part of this role she worked with the Freight and Logistics Industry and was awarded the Australian Freight Industry Personality of the Year in 2003. She then worked with the University of Melbourne’s Sustainable Society Institute (MSSI) managing trans-departmental projects such as MUtopia – a simulation and management tool for the design and implementation of sustainable cities.

She has always worked in her local community, in the 1990’s as a local government councillor, and then in 2006 by founding and running Lighter Footprints, a climate change action group.

Since that time, this group, which covers the Kooyong electorate of Melbourne, has grown to significant size, and is building a local base to press all levels of government to take action on climate change.

Readman Series #23

Melbourne’s Early History

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Professor Geoffrey Blainey
Prof. Geoffrey Blainey

Professor Geoffrey Blainey AC, FAHA, FASSA is an Australian historian, academic, philanthropist and commentator with a wide international audience. He is noted for having written authoritative texts on the economic and social history of Australia, including The Tyranny of Distance. He has published over 35 books, including wide-ranging histories of the world and of Christianity. He has often appeared in newspapers and on television. He held chairs in economic history and history at the University of Melbourne for over 20 years. In the 1980s, he was visiting professor of Australian Studies at Harvard University. He received the 1988 Britannica Award for dissemination of knowledge and was made a Companion of the Order of Australia in 2000.

Geoffrey Blainey was the first Chancellor of the University of Ballarat (now Federation University Australia). In 2010 the supervised reading room and special collections in the E.J. Barker Library were named the ‘Geoffrey Blainey Research Centre”

Readman Series #22

How to strengthen Australia’s social cohesion
Increasing our understanding of multiculturalism today

Anthea Hancocks
CEO of the Scanlon Foundation

Thursday, 15 November 2018

Anthea Hancocks, CEO Scanlon Foundation
Anthea Hancocks

Anthea Hancocks has an extensive background in community service, business development, education, communications, relationship and services marketing and strategy through senior leadership experience in private, government and not for profit organisations. Anthea is the Chief Executive Officer of the Scanlon Foundation, a private philanthropic organisation committed to enhancing social cohesion in Australia through research, community grants and projects.

Prior to this, she was the Chief Marketing Officer for law firm Herbert Geer where she was responsible for strategic planning, business development, internal and external communications, marketing initiatives and training. In addition, Anthea was the company secretary and responsible for operations. Anthea moved to this role from the National Australia Bank where she held several senior strategy roles in both the operations and the business banks.

She is an accredited mediator through the Australian Institute of Mediators and Arbitrators, Chair of Earthwatch Australia, Chair of YMCA Victoria, a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and an associate of Leadership Victoria.

Readman Series #21

Weighing the cost of immigration

Thursday, 12 October 2018

Peter Martin, journalist
Peter Martin

Peter Martin is one of Australia’s most accomplished economic journalists. For 20 years the economics correspondent for Australia’s leading current affairs programs AM, PM and The World Today and since 2006 the economics correspondent or economics editor for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and The Canberra Times.