Sydney Opera House
21 May 2015
52 Days to Go
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.

Orthopedic Surgeon

Born in Baghdad, pioneering surgeon Dr Munjed Al Muderis was forced to flee Iraq to Australia as a refugee. He embarked on his journey to become a world leader in osseointegration surgery on his release from a detention centre in 2000 and is now part of a crack team pioneering bionic fusion.

Paralympic Basketball medallist, Australian Wheelchair Tennis Champion

24-year-old Dylan Alcott OAM is a Paralympic gold medallist, World Champion, Grand Slam champion and world record holder for both wheelchair basketball and wheelchair tennis.

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.


Currently based in New York, Tega Brain is an Australian artist and environmental engineer working at the intersection between art, ecology and engineering.


Julian Burnside is an Australian barrister, human rights and refugee advocate, and author. He has acted as legal counsel in a number of high-profile hearings including pro bono for major human rights cases, in particular concerning the treatment of refugees.

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.

UFC High Performance Coach

Nadine Champion is a UFC High Performance Coach. With over 28 years experience in martial arts, Nadine has never lost a fight.


Chris Darwin is the great-great grandson of one of history’s most celebrated scientists and evolutionists – Charles Darwin. Tackling what his great-great grandfather called his “greatest regret”, Chris has made it his life’s goal to help halt the global mass extinction of species.

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.

Designer and philosopher

Tony Fry is a design theorist, philosopher and author from Brisbane who offers a profoundly challenging view on the relationship between design, unsustainability, and politics.

Marine scientist

French-born marine biologist rockstar – Daniel Pauly – is well known for his work in studying the human impact on marine ecosystems and global fisheries.

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.


No stranger to controversy, Associate Professor Charlie Teo is a high profile and inspirational neurosurgeon pushing boundaries. Founder of the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation, he operates on both Australian and international cancer patients. He is known as the brain surgeon that goes where others will not.

Middle English scholar

Stephanie Trigg is a literary scholar in the field of medieval studies. Currently one of ten Chief Investigators in the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions (UWA), she is particularly known for her work on celebrated English poet Geoffrey Chaucer.

Director, Google Creative Lab

Tom Uglow is Creative Director for Google's Creative Lab in Sydney. He works with cultural and creative organisations around the world exploring the space between technology and the arts and what can happen where they intersect.