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Partner Spotlight – The University of Melbourne

The Melbourne Writers Festival welcomes the University of Melbourne as a Major Partner in a new three-year partnership and presents a stellar line-up of MWF events.

With Opening Night fast approaching this Thursday, the Melbourne Writers Festival and long-time festival partner – the University of Melbourne – is excited to bring compelling conversations and fascinating lectures to the stage as part of a recently-announced new Major Partnership.

In a suitably ambitious undertaking for the first of a three-year agreement, MWF and the University have invited some of the brightest literary minds in Australia and abroad to discuss everything from the place and power of beauty and poetry in the Australian literary imagination, to centrist policy reformation and the remarkable contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women to human rights activism in Australia.

The two organisations have for many years partnered to create a platform for the vital and challenging discussion of some of the most urgent topics in the Australian consciousness. In a Festival year all about ambition, it is only fitting that this new major collaboration reflects that shared vision.


2022 Miles Franklin winner and University of Melbourne alumni, Jennifer Down, says of the Festival’s theme:

“My own ambitions as an author have always been fairly modest: I’ve worked and written with little expectations, so anything else has felt like an act of great fortune. But a critical part of writing is reading and listening, and for as long as I can remember, Melbourne Writers Festival has provided an annual opportunity to do just that: a forum for the exchange of vital ideas and perspectives.”


Of the new major partnership, MWF CEO Vivia Hickman says:

“Melbourne Writers Festival has enjoyed a long association with the University of Melbourne so I am thrilled that it has grown into a major multi-year partnership. The two organisations share many of the same values as well as belief in the intrinsic importance of the humanities in our lives. I look forward to working with them to further the exploration of ideas and to foster an environment where discourse and debate can flourish in the public domain.”


The Revd Prof Russell Goulbourne, Dean, Faculty of Arts, says:

“Arts is delighted to champion the relationship with the Melbourne Writers Festival on behalf of the University. Questions of meaning, value and creativity matter to both of our organisations – and engagement with knowledge that both deepens the life of the mind and opens up new ways of being in the world. We relish the opportunity for conversations about new experiences and particularly how to live well in a fairer, more humane and more sustainable world. We see the Melbourne Writers Festival as one of Melbourne’s great public conversations about our shared humanity and are proud to work together to bring these discussions to a wider audience.”


Events presented as part of this new Major Partnership include:

Peter Steele Lecture: Whistling in the Dark
Award-winning poet, editor, critic and Professor in Creative Writing Sarah Holland-Battas she delivers a riveting address on the task of poetry and how it may reconcile us to the world and the scope of our mortal lives.

Boisbouvier Oration: Tony Birch
Renowned writer Tony Birch spotlights the remarkable contributions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who have long been at the forefront of human rights activism in Australia. He brings to life the stories of women who have been great truth-tellers, confronting a national affliction of amnesia and silence with words both direct and profound.

The John Button Oration: Towards Radical Centre Reform
Radical Heart author, constitutional lawyer and Radical Centre Reform Lab director Shireen Morris discusses her work with Indigenous leaders seeking radical centre solutions in constitutional reform, collaborative efforts which forged a progressive-conservative alliance in support of a First Nations voice. In this year’s John Button Oration, Morris combines constitutional insight with radical centre thinking to question ingrained policy paradigms that she argues are failing Australians.

In Pursuit of Beauty
Australian author Christos Tsiolkas (Seven and a Half) and British author and actor Sarah Winman (Still Life), two award-winning, bestselling writers appear live in person with The Monthly Editor Michael Williams to discuss what their work reveals about the capacity of beauty to flourish – be it in art, nature or human connection – even in the shadow of conflict and chaos.

Shelf Care
This uplifting panel features some of our most voracious lovers of words share the books they hold closest to their hearts. Lardil and Yangkaal poet and artist Maya Hodge, acclaimed poet Sarah Holland-Batt (The Jaguar), bestselling author Chloe Hooper(Bedtime Story) and Fulbright scholar and leading refugee advocate Abbas Nazari (After the Tampa) are joined in conversation by Kate Evans (The Bookshelf).