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Australia Reimagined

With special guest:

  • Hugh Mackay AO
    … in conversation with Bill Kable

Australia has had a well-documented and unprecedented run of economic growth but this has not translated into a happy, harmonious society. Our guest today is Hugh Mackay who describes the current level of anxiety in Australia as an epidemic.

The level of income inequality in Australia is growing, public education is under-resourced and our children are falling behind when compared to other first world countries.

And at a time when we need them most we are losing faith in our major institutions namely the Church, our elected parliamentarians who are supposed to be acting in the country’s interest, the major banks and even the families who give us security. Right now all of these are under threat. Over half of marriages end in divorce in the first ten years leaving children in the lurch. The two Royal Commissions that have investigated banking and before that institutional abuse of children have revealed some of the worst abuses of power.

In his new book Australia Reimagined: Towards a more compassionate, less anxious society Hugh Mackay looks at the effects of this loss of trust and gives us a picture of where we are now as a country, based on his social research over more than 50 years. There is plenty to be concerned about and yet Hugh retains his optimism. He is confident that we can climb out of this situation where we are more socially fragmented, more anxious, more depressed, more overweight, more medicated, deeper in debt and increasingly addicted to drugs, digital devices, pornography and “stuff”.

Hugh Mackay argues with intelligence and passion for the antidote and there are some green shoots appearing which gives us cause for optimism. We cannot wait for one of those generational leaders to get us out of this, society’s problems are our problems so take the initiative. We can start by connecting with our neighbours. This can be by arranging street parties or just, going to the local coffee shop and staring a conversation. And on the larger picture get back to having a faith in something bigger than yourself, and that does not necessarily mean religion these days. Get out and commune with nature. And how about some creative self-expression? Start on that painting, writing, singing, cooking or whatever else you find satisfying.

One thing is for sure. When you listen to Hugh Mackay you will find it hard to get his ideas out of your head.

Hugh Mackay

Hugh Mackay is a prolific and well-known social researcher, writer and commentator in Australia. His 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 other appointments he has been deputy chair of The Australia Council for the Arts and the inaugural chair of the ACT government’s Community Inclusion Board. He is currently a patron of the Asylum Seekers Centre. Hugh 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. He is the author of nineteen books in the field of social psychology and philosophy. Previous books include Why Don’t People Listen?, Reinventing Australia and What Makes Us Tick?.

Song selection by our guest: The Bluebird by Sir Charles Villiers Stanford performed by the London Philharmonic and the Choir of New College Oxford with Edward Higginbottom

Listen Now (mp3)

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