TEDxMelbourne 2014 THEME: OFF THE GRID


We are pleased to announce the theme for TEDxMelbourne 2014!

This year, we are going OFF THE GRID.

Looking forward to see you on 10th October 2014, at Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre (Plenary 1)

Ticketing and speaker information will be released soon, so please stay connected with us via social media and subscribe to our mailing list for exclusive updates!

Your TEDxMelbourne Team

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SAVE THE DATE – 10th OCT 2014

TEDxMelbourne turns 5 this year

A milestone calls for a change. As we turn 5 this year, we are committed to bringing you bigger, better and more inspiring experiences to engage with.

Our team has been working hard to make our TEDxMelbourne Conference this year extra special, with an exciting line-up of speakers eager to share their ideas with you. You definitely won’t want to miss out on this.

Please save 10th October 2014. Over the next few weeks, we will be releasing more details on speakers, themes and event timings. In the meantime, be sure to stay connected with us to keep up to date with all our news!

Please subscribe to our mailing list for the latest updates!
Thanking you for your continued support,

Your TEDxMelbourne Team

TED SaveTheDate D2

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Seeing The Unseen 03 December 2013 – Review

CinchLogo-340px-300x97Our friends at Cinch video mingled with the Seeing The Unseen attendees demonstrating their app and asking the question “What does TEDxMelbourne mean to you”.

On 3 December at the Melbourne Recital Centre in Southbank, TEDxMelbourne held its last event for 2013—Seeing The Unseen.

The theme for the afternoon was introduced by a quote from science fiction writer Wendelessen “What is unseen, is not necessarily unknown.”

The first speaker was greeted by a silent hall.

Tim Chan, an eighteen-year-old poet, writer, recent year 12 graduate and an advocate for people with disabilities, has a story that is a lesson in the power of human potential.

Tim’s talk was unlike other TEDx talks. Joined on stage by his mother Sarah, who sat with her hand placed lightly on her son’s shoulder to, as she informed us, give him a sense of his body in space. The two sat on chairs, with a table central over the TED red carpet, and worked seamlessly as Tim’s electronically assisted voice echoed across the hall.

His first sentence took minutes to punch in as we politely waited. Disjointed electronic words exploded from the PA until the machine compiled and read back the completed sentence: How do you see me? When you try to talk to me, I look away, I don’t respond. I flap my arms, I make noise. I may lie down on the floor.

From then we were captivated.

Tim and Sarah Chan on stage at TEDxMelbourne's Seeing The Unseen

Diagnosed with severe autism as a child, Tim is non-verbal and hypersensitive. He shared with us how being on stage was a mini miracle for him because his anxiety levels can get extremely high. He explained that his mother saw the unseen when it came to him. She “saw the potential to be fully human” and “to live a satisfying life.”

He told us it can be frustrating because people ignore him, they don’t see him as intelligent. The voice output machine takes effort to use and every time someone other than his mother helps him, he must make accommodations for that person’s particular style. Tim reminded us that the next time we see someone having a meltdown at a train station or flapping their arms at a supermarket, you may be looking at someone like him.

Elizabeth Broderick, the federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, began her talk with examples of discriminatory quotes made about women in the past. While there has been progress, the Commissioner reminded us that this kind of thinking continues in unseen places like during private conversations, sporting clubs, parliament, male-dominated industries, boardroom tables and even in some of our homes.

“Organisational power still resides in the hands of men,” she told us. “We must urge men to be involved and deliver equality for women if we want to see movement in the right direction.”

The words ‘military’ and ‘emotion’ are often not used in the same sentence but the Commissioner has seen what can happen when we bring the head and the heart together and commit to engaging in real conversation. Changes can, and do, occur.

Following the 2011 Skype sex scandal at the Australian Defence Force Academy, she conducted a review of the armed services and uncovered stories of discrimination and sexual assault due to gender. Her approach brought together military chiefs with female personnel for meetings of reconciliation.

Tania de Jong AM came onto the stage with the song ‘Singin’ in the Rain’, reminding us that there was a time when we all used to sing and that we all can sing. Demonstrating this comment, Tania divided the audience into three groups and shortly had the room singing in a three-part harmony.

Aside from the physiological benefits of singing together in a group—an increase in endorphins and oxytocin which lifts your mood, to name just one benefit—Tania’s talk also illustrated how such groups can support and enrich the lives of all participants.

Jon Osborne asked the audience to listen to how silent the room was. He began to explain some of the unseen factors that make Elisabeth Murdoch Hall excellent as a concert venue, such as the 250mm of reinforced concrete behind the walls and a floor suspended on spring bearings to minimise vibrations.

“Why does all this matter?” Jon asked. “Because true silence is the blank canvas on which musicians work. “

As his conversation progressed, he suggested that electronic vehicles will change how our cities sound, bringing quietness where there is now engine chatter and that we’ll have an opportunity to add pleasant sounds back into our cities, like water fountains and parks where children play. “This way,” he concluded, “we don’t withdraw, rather we engage once more with our surroundings.”

The first half of Seeing The Unseen ended with Tania de Jong AM taking the stage once more for a rendition of ‘Somewhere’.

Following afternoon tea, local circus group Three High Acrobatics treated us to gravity defying feats of strength, endurance and flexibility. They energised the crowd with their chair and hand-to-hand partner acrobatics.

The first speaker of the second session was Lisa-ann Gershwin, a marine biologist, ecologist, conservationist and author of Stung! She is an expert in the field of jellyfish. During her career, she has identified 16 types of jellyfish and 150 new species.

Jellyfish are “invisible, we just don’t think about them,” she told us, “but they are flourishing and causing problems.” Power plants, desalination plants, trawlers and other machines that suck in water, regularly suck in thousands of jellyfish that clog and damage machinery.

The huge number of jellyfish blooms is a visible indicator that something is out of balance, mostly due to human impacts on the ocean: transport ships, coastal construction, entrophication (too many nutrients), pollution, climate change and ocean acidification. Lisa-ann finished with the question, “How far will we let the ocean degrade?”

Dr Keith Joe asked us whether healthcare could become fun. He thinks so. He has a radical approach to make hospital visits more enjoyable, especially for kids. As he explained, “hospitals are places of healing but are also the most stressful and least pleasant of experiences. It’s the fear of the unknown that creates anxiety.”

He described that, as a patient enters hospital, “we’ll use electronic gaming to demystify and engage, and reward patients for their participation and treatment.” After downloading the hospital app, “the patient creates an avatar, they gain points and at the end of their stay they have enough points for a voucher or movie.”

Keith is now working with some of Melbourne’s best game designers to create this interactive app to “improve kids’ experience of healthcare [and] to look at an old problem with new eyes.”

Sami Shah is a Pakistani comedian, journalist and satirist who immigrated to rural Western Australia with his family. His talk explored racism, attitudes towards refugees and asylum seekers (“these are the good guys, the doctors and lawyers”) and his experiences in Australia, including a recent altercation with a kangaroo—“a velociraptor covered in suede.”

With verve and wit, he quickly deconstructed the arguments against accepting refugees; “They’ll take our jobs. Well, be better at your job!” He spoke of the power of comedy to change minds, connect and make us to see different perspectives.

“Australians seeing asylum seekers and refugees as human and treating them as human. That’s something worth seeing,” Sami concluded.

Morris Miselowski is a futurist. This is someone who explores predictions and the idea of “learn, unlearn, relearn” to think about what the future may look like.

His children’s generation will have six careers and fourteen jobs and, as Morris says, “perhaps the three Rs are not as relevant, while skills like collaboration and creative problem solving are.”

By 2055 we will need “600 million more jobs to keep employment at its current level.” Most of these jobs don’t exist yet. Morris commented that this doesn’t mean that we have to forget the past or what it has given us, rather “listen to yesterday, but speak to tomorrow.”

Seeing The Unseen included a special appearance by Australian music legend Tommy Emmanuel. In his talk “How I became a one-man band” he spoke of being in the “happiness business”. Tommy was inspired by Chet Atkins’ complex technique of cascading harmonies and from this developed his own percussive style so he “could make all the sounds at once”.

Delivering an encore, Tommy Emmanuel closed TEDxMelbourne’s event, Seeing The Unseen.

Van Roberts is a writer, editor and the director of Little Raven Publishing. She is driven by a passion for original, strong, quality writing.

She has contributed to several publications including Frankie, Time Out, The Pun, Lingua Franca, Sotto, Horror, Sleaze and Trash, Spineless Wonders and Australian Love Poems 2013.

Cece Ojany is a writer and life coach. Her passions are creativity and contribution. She is the Writers-In-Prison Officer at PEN Melbourne and founder of The Main Protagonist. Her poetry has featured at several events including Federation Square’s Light In Winter Festival and The Dandenong Laneway Festival

You can follow her at

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Elizabeth Broderick – Seeing The Unseen

Elizabeth Broderick

The White House, the World Bank and the Pentagon. What do they all have in common? Washington D.C. locations? International centres of power? Visits by a compelling Australian speaker?. Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissionaire addressed all three in the same month. She is presenting at TEDxMelbourne’s ‘Seeing the Unseen’.

Elizabeth Broderick was appointed to Commissionaire in 2007. She has a background in law and was a partner and board member at Blake Dawson. Now as part of her remit she travels throughout the world, talking to acid attack victims in Dhaka, Bangladesh and camping with Aboriginal women in the Kimberley, raising awareness and advocating against gender discrimination on Australia’s behalf.

In her role as Sex Discrimination Commissionaire, Elizabeth has advocated the prevention of violence and sexual harassment against women, Australia’s paid parental leave scheme, the improvement of economic security for women and increasing gender equality laws. She speaks at the United Nations annually and recently lead the Commission’s Review into the Treatment of Women in the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Australian Defence Force.

Refreshingly, Elizabeth chooses twitter to engage with Australians and publicly address sex discrimination issues : ‘Affected by discrimination in the workplace related to pregnancy, parental leave or return to work – tell @LizBroderick.’ Pregnancy is the top discrimination complaint in Australian workplaces. Through social media Elizabeth shares local and international stories of change: the YWCA in the Solomon Islands, reports on CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) women on boards, women coming together to end the US debt ceiling crisis.

When the Coalition announced its Cabinet which included one woman, she commented “When women make up more than half the population, it’s disappointing that there’s only one woman in Cabinet. The absence of women at decision-making levels is a problem in every sector in Australia, politics included. I think it emphasises that we still have a long way to go in addressing women’s under-representation at leadership levels in Australia.” (, September 19, 2013)

‘Seeing the unseen’ is set to explore the question:  is ‘unseen’ the same as ‘unknown?’ Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissionaire, will answer the question, How can Australia make the unequal equal?

Van Roberts is a writer, editor and the director of Little Raven Publishing. She is driven by a passion for original, strong, quality writing.

She has contributed to several publications including Frankie, Time Out, The Pun, Lingua Franca, Sotto, Horror, Sleaze and Trash, Spineless Wonders and Australian Love Poems 2013.

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Tania de Jong AM – Seeing The Unseen

Tania de Jong AM

Tania De Jong AM (Member of the Order Of Australia) sits at a very unique intersection that successfully combines the arts with business, health and wellbeing.  She is an acclaimed VCA trained soprano and the founder of a suite of organisations that fall under the umbrella title, Creative Universe. Among other things Creative Universe curates the annual Creative Innovation Conference in Melbourne – three days of Deep Conversations, Master Classes and other events with thought leaders from around the globe.

We sat down with Tania to discuss entrepreneurship, what creativity really means and how singing can solve our problems.

It was necessity, Tania De Jong says, that led her down her current path. Like so many people she was told at a young age not to bother being a singer. One of her teachers went as far as saying that she would never make it past the chorus. It was difficult for her then to perform for the national opera company, which would have been the traditional career path.

For these reasons, she had to confront the fear of failure and the inner voice that plagues many of us with thoughts of not being good enough. She made the decision to develop her own enterprises, beginning with the highly successful musical entertainment group Pot- Pourri. The success of Pot-Pourri led to the creation of Music Theatre Australia, an events and entertainment company that helps other performers find work in the corporate and events sector.  She then set up her first charity, The Song Room, as a result of seeing too many children missing out on music as part of their formal education. Since its inception The Song Room has reached hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged children.

She founded her second charity, Creativity Australia, five years ago. It is designed to use singing together in choirs as a tool for improving mental health and wellbeing, building mentoring skills and providing employment opportunities.

Many people have been silenced, Tania says. They become afraid to speak in public, afraid to sing and they believe they are not creative enough. As a result, we don’t unlock our full creative potential. Receiving these kinds of messages stifles our ability to be creative. It literally blocks the capacity of the right side of the brain.  The thinking is, the left side of the brain is about logic and analytics, whereas the right side is more about intuition, emotion, creativity and fantasy. We spend about 85% of our time in the left side of our brain, Tania points out, and this drains our mental battery.

The right side of our brains needs to be recharged, she continues, and singing together with others is a very effective way of doing that. Singing alone has its benefits, but research shows that when we sing with others our brain chemistry literally changes.

In life we can be exposed to various experiences that can have the effect of dulling our minds. Through tools like singing together, the right temporal lobe of the brain starts to light up, neurotransmitters are re-ignited and they start connecting in new and different ways. It’s for this reason that music therapy is used to help victims of strokes to reclaim their spoken language. When you start to sing and connect the pathways in different ways, you can speak again.

Tania points out that there are still other effects, such as an increase in oxytocins and serotonin, which makes us feel good, and immunoglobulin, which helps the immune system. Not only do you start to breath together as a group when you sing, but studies have also shown that performers’ hearts start beating together as well.

Through her Inspiring Minds Leadership Programs, Tania also conducts creative leadership workshops with corporate teams. The goal is to help remove people’s self-limiting beliefs. “It’s about helping them to get into an ‘I can do’ headspace,” she says. “If I can do this (singing for example) what else can I do as an individual but also with my team and with my organisation.”

There can be a lot of fear within organisations. We tend to be very risk adverse. Through this kind of work people can become courageous, let go of worrying about what others think and find their own unique voice. It’s about acknowledging that we are all creative, Tania points out. And just because someone is an artist does not always mean they are creative. Being a musician does not guarantee that you are more creative than someone who is in business. It’s about giving ourselves permission.

Tania reminds us that for Steve Jobs, for example, creativity is just about connecting things. She goes a step further to add that the richer and broader your experience is, the more things you have to connect – this then becomes your toolbox.

For Tania, it’s important to have diverse networks of people, and diverse experiences. The more you have what she calls “positive human collisions” the more ideas you can draw upon. When you need them or want them, you will have them available at your fingertips.

Creativity is more about lateral thinking than it is about art. Perhaps we need to redefine creativity altogether, she says.

Each week through Creativity Australia and its “With One Voice” program one can see the effects of bringing a diverse group of people together to sing. Participants get new skills and jobs, find friends and improve their mental health. It happens not just because of the connections they make with each other but also because of the mindset the experience puts the participants in.

The program brings together executives and other senior people with migrant job seekers, people with depression and disability. There is a wish-list program where participants can ask each other for help. There is always someone who can help and if they can’t, they will find someone who can, Tania confirms. The reason a lot of wishes can be met is because participants are in a right-brain headspace – they feel connected to others. Compare this to a left-brain headspace where we are all separate from each other.

When people come to sing they are already taking a leap of faith anyway. The program takes away the taboo. About 85% of people have been told at some point that they can’t sing. At a program such as this one, they start singing, gain confidence; their endorphins start firing and the brain chemistry changes. This then makes other things possible.

For aspiring entrepreneurs Tania encourages people to “just start”. That is the main thing. She encourages people to get a few others around to be your advisors or support group, and just start. If it’s a great idea it will probably catch on anyway, she adds. There are a number of interns involved in her organisations and she points out that they have started. They are thinking in a different way, doing something new and are giving something different a go.

This language challenges the tall poppy syndrome that many argue still pervades Australian culture. “We celebrate the underdog,” Tania says, “but we should also celebrate success.”

You can learn more about Tania De Jong and her work at

The annual Creative Innovation Conference will be held on November 27 – 29 at The Sofitel, Melbourne. Learn more about it at

Tania de Jong will be speaking and singing at TEDxMelbourne’s Seeing The Unseen Dec 3rd

Cece Ojany is a writer and life coach. Her passions are creativity and contribution. She is the Writers-In-Prison Officer at PEN Melbourne and founder of The Main Protagonist. Her poetry has featured at several events including Federation Square’s Light In Winter Festival and The Dandenong Laneway Festival

You can follow her at


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