When it comes to our ecological, social, cultural and economic future, misplaced optimism is as dangerous as blind faith. What is needed is the courage to face the way things are, and the wisdom and imagination - informed by the best available evidence - to work out how to make things better.
Australia's unprecedented run of economic growth has failed to deliver a more stable or harmonious society. Individualism is rampant. Income inequality is growing. Public education is under-resourced. The gender revolution is stalling. We no longer trust our major institutions or our political leaders. We are more socially fragmented, more anxious, more depressed, more overweight, more medicated, deeper in debt and increasingly addicted - whether to our digital devices, drugs, pornography or 'stuff'.
Yet esteemed social researcher Hugh Mackay remains optimistic. Twenty-five years ago, he revolutionised Australian social analysis with the publication of Reinventing Australia. Now he takes another unflinching look at us and offers some compelling proposals for a more compassionate and socially cohesive Australia in Australia Reimagined. You might not agree with everything he suggests, but you'll find it hard to get some of his ideas out of your head.
Meet Hugh for the Canberra launch of this, his nineteenth book, and see if his optimism rubs off on you. In conversation with ABC Canberra ‘Drive’ presenter Laura Tchilinguirian.
Tickets: $12 (includes a complimentary glass of house wine or soft drink)
Hugh Mackay is a social researcher and bestselling author, whose research career has spanned six decades, including 25 years as research director of The Mackay Report, publishing quarterly reports on all aspects of Australian life. Among many honorary appointments, he has been deputy chair of the Australia Council for the Arts, chairman of trustees of Sydney Grammar School, the inaugural chair of the ACT government's Community Inclusion Board, and is currently a patron of the Asylum Seekers Centre. He is a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and has been awarded honorary doctorates by five Australian universities. In 2015, he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia.
Laura Tchilinguirian was born and raised in Sydney and moved to the ACT at the age of 19 to study Communications at the University of Canberra. She developed a passion for radio while volunteering at Canberra community radio station CSPR (now ArtSoundFM) in the early 90s. Laura has worked for the ABC since 2009 and is currently the Drive presenter on ABC Radio Canberra.