Festival of Open Minds Podcast – Hugh Mackay, Australia’s most respected and experienced social researcher

Photos: Chris Sheedy

Photos: Chris Sheedy

Australia’s most respected and experienced social researcher, Hugh Mackay, believes something is wrong with our nation and in the lives of its citizens.

At the inaugural Festival of Open Minds in September 2018, Hugh came to Bega to explain what and why, but more importantly how he thinks we can change for the better.

“It’s at the local level that we will transform Australia and where we will be able to begin addressing the twin problem of social fragmentation and rising anxiety,” he told the 350 people who gathered to listen on that sunny spring day.

“The state of the nation starts in your street.”

It’s a rallying call we revisit and publish for the first time as a podcast ahead of the 2019 Festival of Open Minds.

Hugh Mackay. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

Hugh Mackay. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

Hugh is the bestselling author of 19 books, including The Good Life, The Art of Belonging, and his latest, Australia Reimagined.

Hugh has had a 60-year career in social research and was also a weekly newspaper columnist for over 25 years.

He is currently a patron of the Asylum Seekers Centre and an honorary professor of social science at the University of Wollongong.

Hugh Mackay. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

Hugh Mackay. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

Among many other appointments, he has been deputy chairman of the Australia Council for the Arts, chairman of trustees of Sydney Grammar School, and the inaugural chairman of the ACT government’s Community Inclusion Board.

In recognition of his pioneering work in social research, Hugh has been elected a Fellow of the Australian Psychological Society and awarded honorary doctorates by Charles Sturt, Macquarie, NSW, Western Sydney and Wollongong universities.

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2015.

Hugh Mackay. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

Hugh Mackay. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

In the discussion he led at Open Minds 2018, Hugh touched on disappointment in our political leadership, a loss of faith in once-respected institutions like the church, faltering education standards, a fracturing of families, and the erosion of community, and the proliferation of social media leading, paradoxically, to more loneliness and less privacy.

A deep, heavy discussion on one hand but as only Hugh Mackay can mix with an optimistic but challenge for the future.

You may not agree with everything he says, but you won’t be able to ignore the intelligence of his argument or not be moved by the passion of his convictions, his warmth and easy humour.

Click play to revisit and share in the conversation with Hugh Mackay…

Want to hear more from the 2018 Festival of Open Minds? Click HERE!


In 2019 the Festival of Open Minds takes place on September 13 and 14 at the Bega Civic Centre under the banner – ‘People With Oomph’ inspired by Bega Valley song man Damon Davis and his song of the same name.

“People with oomph – they’re not lyin down. People with oomph – spread the good life. People with oomph – keep their own style. People with oomph – walk mile after mile,” Damon sings.

The 2019 Festival of Open Minds line up so far includes:

  • Tim Costello, Chief Advocate, World Vision;
  • Nas Campanella, blind Triple J newsreader;
  • Pastor Christie Buckingham, spiritual counselor to executed Bali 9 drug smuggler Myuran Sukumaran;
  • Aly Khalifa, founder of Oceanworks, focused on harvesting plastic waste from our oceans;
  • Emma Booth, para-equestrian competitor, represented Australia at the 2016 Rio Paralympics;
  • Alasdair Tremblay-Birchall, comedian, joke writer, grew up in Tathra;
  • Sassi Nuyum, aka Meaghan Holt, rising Aboriginal writer, performer

More announcements will be made very soon, stay in touch via the festival website.

Early bird tickets and lunch options are on sale now via Eventbrite. Early bird prices end August 14!

Thank you to our Festival partners – 
Hugh Mackay. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

Hugh Mackay. Photo: Chris Sheedy.

Original Article published by Ian Campbell on About Regional.