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This Program is Captioned Live THEME MUSIC I'm Tony Jones. Hello and welcome to Big Ideas. On today's show, Patrick McGorry Australian of the year so juvenile tells us all to stop being about becoming a republic. Writer Cate Kennedy on being grammatically incorrect. with a very human take quirks and kinks Plus the insecurities, of men. revealed in the sex diaries than women Men are 20 times more likely to have an unusual sexual interest a sexual kink, if you like. in my group of 150, And, of course, of most unusual activity. I had a fair range for sexual relief. One man wore nappies in their wives' knickers, Quite a few were interested

which was interesting, under his bowls shorts. one wearing his wife's Cottontails

So that is another part of it, in something different this whole interest and how that develops. and how that starts, from Bettina Arndt a little later. More about what men want in bed

First up, emergency wards $103 billion health system. are the frontline of Australia's a close watch, But according to those who keep

of urgent treatment. emergency health is itself in need the University of New South Wales, In a forum by suggest emergency medicine medical insiders by entrenched tribalism, has become fractured of all admissions to acute care that as many as 10 per cent

are the result of systemic failure. The panel was moderated Sarah MacDonald. by broadcaster and writer to the acute sector About 10 per cent of all admissions or systems failure have some sort of adverse event or medical error, OK? Now that' interesting figure. "Well, that's good." Perhaps some people would say, comes with no harm, 90 per cent of every admission through the health system has a nice trajectory and gets well. But 10 per cent, most experts think, you know, that's a pretty high number a medication error for someone to sustain or a fall or the wrong dose or the wrong drug into hospital, or gets an infection when they go when they were admitted. and they didn't have an infection that's provided So about 10 per cent of all care induced by the health system. gets some sort of harm is the technical term. Iatrogenic harm is doing some work saying, So what we've been doing how can we get that down? There's a lot of newer ideas in the health system, about improving the quality of care save money, which would also presumably you've got to fix errors. because if you're making errors, root cause analysis, Some of the ideas are to have

seeing what a problem is to its original cause and then going back and then trying to say, for the future? how do we resolve that cause So, say, looking at someone with problems because of smoking who's got end-stage degrees "That's because they smoked." and going back to, But you can't really fix, undo that. Yes. Australia's been very successful... Well, on the contrary, reducing smoking. Well, not for that patient - into preventive, yeah. Sure. That's about putting more money a cap and trade system, You've also talked about environment when I think of this, which I kind of think of the work in the health system. but you talk about how this could Tell us about that. Sounds rather bizarre. It's a difficult idea, emissions trading because we can't really get No. (LAUGHS) going for the environment... ..but imagine if you have - at its heart. well, cap and trade's a simple idea a bunch of factories It says if you have more carbon, and some emit more emissions, than that size factory should emit, then on the marketplace their carbon emissions down they either have to get on the marketplace or they have to buy a permit

to offset and do some carbon credits. So we had this idea, in the health system. perhaps we could do that with errors the hospitals that produce errors, Perhaps we could get all and anybody who's got excess errors in that hospital, over the number that you should have your errors down perhaps you either have to get to a reasonable level,

on the market or you have to buy a permit to offset your excess harm. So you're putting a price on safety. to try and improve safety We're saying that we've done a lot and we haven't gone far enough outside the box. and we're now looking for solutions And people would say in response, perhaps, you can't trade errors and human lives. But I'm supporting any system that puts pressure on the health system to improve quality of care and reduce the number of errors that are produced. Sally McCarthy, what's your response to it, cap and trading safety? Look I think,

like any sort of performance management system, the incentives for people to falsify their records, as far as errors go in hospitals, may be heightened by such a system. But I'd say this, that there's a lot of issues currently in health systems that we know about that either directly cause errors or predispose to errors occurring and those systems aren't being fixed. We don't need root cause analyses of incidents to show us that. Emergency departments are a great example

where we've got over-crowding, we know the evidence on harm occurring due to over-crowding, yet the system hasn't turned around and said, "This is unacceptable, we'll change this overnight

and move, you know, crowding from this area so that the sickest patients in the system, when they come in, can be looked after appropriately." So what I would do to really cut to the chase around error, is making the financial decision makers in the system responsible for the clinical outcomes because we know that errors are costly and we know that people are making decisions about what to resource and what to remove resources from that drives the clinical care delivery in hospitals and we know that, you know - in an area where I worked there was a decision to close high-dependancy unit beds and they're beds that look after the sickest, or the sicker patients when they come in. So somebody with a severe infection, who becomes very septic and then may go on to have multiple kidney failure or lung failure or need to go to Ken's intensive care unit, we might intervene in the course of that illness early by sending them to a high-dependancy unit, where they get better care early but if those beds are closed, the patient goes to the ward, lies around, gets sicker and sicker, ends up in the intensive care much sicker and their length of stay is longer and they're much more -

it's worse for the patient, clearly - but it's also worse for the system because it's more expensive, occupies the bed for longer. Whereas the person making the decision to close those beds doesn't wear any of the costs of that decision, so we need a way to tie financial decision making directly to clinical outcomes. I mean, this is something that's been discussed in other systems, particularly in the UK, and I guess it's a little bit analogous to the cap and trade, but just probably stating it a bit more directly. We've talked about the different culture of emergency and the fact that you don't have control of what comes in. I imagine it's also the other part - the only other major part of hospital where speed is of the upmost importance and the rest of the hospital system, they can probably be a lot more - well, I shouldn't probably say methodical, but slower in the way they treat patients, whereas you have to be fast to be effective. And that must give it also a unique role for the emergency physicians. Look, I think my colleagues in the rest of the hospital wouldn't like to hear us agree on this, but what I would say is that we clearly have limited information in emergency - patients come in, they might be unconscious, unable to speak to us 'cause of their injuries, in severe pain, very stressed, and we won't know much about them and we really have to start treating them straight away. So we're very used to, or that's an emergency specialist, what one trains to do - to be comfortable making the best decision one can under limited time with limited information and trying to provide appropriate care. So it is a pretty stressful environment in those terms, and, on the other hand, though, it does train clinical staff very well to respond to basic clinical indicators of patients. And sometimes things happen in the rest of the hospital just because, really, the basics aren't addressed well and a lot of the errors that occur in hospitals are things that we have known about for a long time and it's really ignoring basic care. Professor Braithwaite, I saw that you have studied quality of care versus efficiency

and you haven't found that they have to be opposing values. No, in fact if you improve quality of care, then that has some implications for not doing things again a second or third time, therefore they'll be some efficiency gains and improvements. Can I...can I say something that we haven't discussed,though? Sure. We haven't discussed something that's ubiquitous in health systems, and that's this notion that reform equates with restructuring.

Well, I was going to get on to that because we have talked about an entire re-structure of the system and focusing more on what should be a super-clinic, not the super-clinics, and preventative care. But if you then go and restructure an entire system, you've found that it can set you back, that restructure has its own problems. I think the evidence is starting to appear clear

to a number of experts around the world, that one thing many health systems do, and Australia's done a lot of, is something we shouldn't do. What's that? And that's restructuring. (LAUGHS) And one thing we haven't done which we should do is link everything up with e-health. So we don't have to keep gathering the same information all the time, we have a shared electronic record. And that's very good for patient care.

So take restructuring as the first example,

something we do a lot of and we shouldn't. Around the world, and Australia's a good example,

in many of the jurisdictions there's been restructuring. In fact some days I think that somebody thought that restructuring was a good idea and equates with reform, when often all it's doing is changing around the boxes on the organisation chart and not doing anything for patient care. And somebody else had an idea, "Well there's a management principle called continuous improvement," and then a third person had the idea of putting them together and now we have continuous restructuring

and they've forgotten why. (ALL LAUGH) Well, I suppose it's the political thing, "Well, we are restructuring," it's that need to be doing something. And again it goes to the different tribes in the system and, you know, there's another tribe, isn't there,

that are the managers, who feel they have to restructure to keep things going, and that they're doing their job. Yeah, but you can't condone people continuously doing something that palpably doesn't improve the quality of care. For these guys,

running intensive care, general practice and emergency departments, you can't condone that.

And, in fact, the research evidence is quite clear - not only is restructuring largely futile, but it puts you back about 18 months because everybody takes their eye off the ball of patient care, and looks at the structure and agonises about their place in the structure. Which is just human nature. But that's a crazy use of resources. Hm-hm. So you'd like to see reform as opposed to restructure. I'd like to see - stop restructuring, let's use the money that we would've deployed on the restructure to invest in the people at the coalface who are doing patient care and emphasising teamwork. Members of the Hot-Seat panel taking the pulse of our emergency health system at the Uni of New South Wales. And you can see that talk in full on our website or watch out for it on ABC News 24. Well, next up, what men want in bed. Australia's pioneering sex therapist Bettina Arndt is at it again, this time delving into the bedrooms of around 150 mostly older men who've provided her with intimate sex diaries. The diarists tell painfully honest, confronting, often hilarious stories about their delights, dysfunction and disappointments, including their problems with erections, penchant for porn and adventures with Viagra.

Bettina Arndt shared her findings at the National Press Club in Canberra. So, I spent last year with men writing for me about sex, writing diaries, talking to me about their experiences, giving me their sexual histories. Amazing stories, it was just a wonderful experience for me. I got to know some of these men very well - they sent me photos of their dogs and their children and their wives

and their penises occasionally. LAUGHTER It was really quite extraordinary. And what I was trying to find out is what is it with men and sex? I mean, as a woman I was really interested to know,

to have men explain to me what sex is all about, why is it so important to them. Why do they take such risks for sex?

We see endless famous men paraded in front of us, in trouble for getting caught with their pants down. And why is it that a famous sports person or a politician will risk everything for the sake of sex. And I was very interested to get men to talk about that drive, that drive for sexual variety and why it means so much to them. Men are 20 times more likely than women to have an unusual sexual interest, a sexual kink, if you like. And, of course, in my group of 150 I had a fair range of most unusual activity - one man wore nappies for sexual relief, quite a few were interested in their wife's knickers, which was interesting, one wearing his wife's Cottontails under his bowls shorts. So that is another part of it, this whole interest in something different and how that starts and how that develops. Um, one of the burning issues that emerged from talking to men is the whole question of pornography, which, of course, has got another of our politicians in trouble recently, in New South Wales. I mean, pornography is one of the real battlegrounds in marriage today because men now have incredibly easy access to a very good array of porn. I mean, there's always been porn of course,

there's always been something that satisfies the man's sexual curiosity but now it's coming into the home on the Internet and the women hate it. And I was very interested to get the men and women to talk about this, to get the men to talk about why they use pornography, what they're interested in, and to try to encourage the woman to discuss this as well. Because there's an enormous gap between the sort of erotica that many women might enjoy and pornography that men are attracted to. Isabel Allende once said that erotica is like using a feather, pornography the whole chicken. LAUGHTER Why do men need the whole chicken was something that really interested me. But for me the absolute heart of my recent project was the whole question of erections and I'm delighted that we live in an era where men now have an opportunity for a new lease of sexual life. As you may know, one man in two over 50 has problems with erections and it goes up from then on. We have almost 20,000 men a year diagnosed with prostate cancer and many of them are going to experience erectile dysfunction as a consequence of the prostate cancer treatments. And in my first project I was really fascinated by looking at how couples cope with that. And there were two couples in particular that really interested me. The chapter on that was called Three Cheers for Mr Pinocchio and that was named after a man who wrote to me and he said he'd had prostate cancer surgery and his first letter to me was heartbreaking 'cause he talked about the fact that he felt like half a man, that it was just such a blow to him, to be not getting erections and he tried all the different treatments and they weren't working for him.

He had this lovely, sexy relationship with his wife and they'd been married for like 40 years and both of them were really mourning the loss of this physical intimacy. And I wrote back to him and I said, "Obviously I don't know what that feels like but I can understand what a loss it must be for you," and I talked to him about, you know, erections -

I've always thought erections are the most wondrous things, we've only in the last 20 years learned how they work. I mean, when I was starting working as a sex therapist we had no idea how erections worked and it's been this extraordinary puzzle that's come together in understanding this whole process.

Months later he wrote back to me and said, "You don't know what that meant to me, to have someone acknowledge that loss. No-one had ever said anything like that to me before." And I think we tend not to do that, we tend to - we talk about Viagra as something you joke about,

we rarely acknowledge what men are going through

and how important it is to them. Now, this lovely man, he was writing to me for about six months and he finally sent this really excited letter because he'd got - they'd worked it out and they'd found a way of making love that really worked for both of them -

she lay on top of him and rubbed herself against him, but she said she really missed having something inside,

she really enjoyed intercourse, she enjoyed the penis inside her, so he went off to a sex shop and he bought a dildo of some sort and he was a bit of an engineer

and he made this thing out of rubber to hold it all in place and they call it Mr Pinocchio. LAUGHTER

That's Three Cheers for Mr Pinocchio. Now, here is one couple, you know, intercourse is really important, she loves those erections, she wants them back again and then there was another couple who wrote for me and they talked about - she mentioned the fact that they'd been seeing the urologist before they had the prostate cancer surgery and the urologist turned to her and said, "How do you feel about being poked?" Um, it turns out he knows them very well, I mean, it was quite an interesting way of putting it but it wasn't - he was a friend of the family, really. But it was a really good question 'cause he was asking her "Are erections important to you? How will you feel if your husband doesn't get erections again?" And she sat there - and she said to me - she sat there and she thought "Whoopee" because she said, "I love the idea of not having that third person in our bed with its hard demands." Now, really interesting - most intelligent woman who wrote beautifully about this and she said, look, intercourse had never really been her thing. She tended not to respond in intercourse, she liked touching, she liked oral sex and yet there was always this pressure throughout their marriage for him wanting her to come during intercourse

and it never happened.

And they ended up, as a result of that doctor's question, they had this big conversation about their whole sexual history. And they finally decided to go ahead without him trying any of the erection treatments

and they both wrote to me and said they've never been happier 'cause she's initiating sex for the first time ever because she's getting the sort of sex she always wanted - touching, you know, lots of cuddling and stimulation but without the pressure on her to feel she had to climax during bonking. And they were both delighted with this. Look at those two people, I mean, two couples with such different reactions to this experience and such different needs and we have thousands and thousands of couples dealing with this and no-one is talking to them. I mean, people struggling on their own to deal with what is a real-life crisis - the business of dealing with prostate cancer and then the sexual consequences of that.

And I was determined to try to get men to talk about this and to talk about what it's like to go through that, what it's like to use the new treatments. And we all joke, as I said, about Viagra but what is it like to pop a little blue pill

or to inject your penis? What does that feel like? What' know, how do the partners feel about that, and that sort of thing. So I've got this wonderful material from men talking about this whole issue, men talking about how devastating it is for them

to no longer get an erection. "This is not living, it's just existing," says one man. "I don't feel like a man anymore with a piece of marshmallow between my legs." Marshmallow actually appeared quite often. I was quite surprised. "I've lost my best friend, even if he was a dickhead."

LAUGHTER You know, it's so lovely that they've managed to retain their sense of humour. Sometimes, not always. And then their delight after years of not having an erection -

to get an erection again through these new treatments

was an extraordinary thing for many of the men. Here's a man who was using one of the injection treatments - "Willy was up, ready to play for 45 minutes.

Oh, what a feeling, Toyota!" he says. "The first time was amazing, it felt like I was 20 again. This is the best thing since sliced bread but much dearer." Now, the dearer issue is, I suppose, one of the main issues

I want to talk to you about today. We are in this extraordinary situation where men who have prostate cancer are given no government support for the cost of their treatments after - when it comes to recovering from that cancer. And the cost is considerable - we're talking $9 or $10 per erection. And that is really prohibitive for many men. We now know, the evidence is coming through, that for many men there's a real use it or lose it principle when it comes to recovering from prostate cancer surgery - or radiation has the same effect on sexual functioning - unless they get that penis working again, unless they get those delicate erectile tissues working again soon after the treatment the chances of them recovering from that treatment are extremely slim. So we have this whole notion now of penile rehabilitation that the doctors are using to describe this whole process of the importance of erections for getting - for maintaining sexual functioning after these sorts of treatments. Now, I find it so extraordinary that we have a government which seems to assume - and we've had a succession of governments that has assumed - that a functioning penis simply doesn't matter when compared to the loss of a breast. And it's a very interesting situation we've got into. I mean, you look at breast cancer and it's absolutely understood that women have a right to government support for the cost of breast reconstruction after mastectomy. That it's understood that the loss of a breast is a blow to her femininity and that she's gonna need help with regaining that confidence in herself. Breast reconstruction has been available through the public system for a long time now. In 2007/2008 government expenditure on breast reconstruction was $9 million. That figure doesn't include the cost of doctors' services or the $3 million for Medicare claims related to private surgery. And from 2007, the Government has also introduced - they're now spending $31 million over five years for providing breast prostheses. Now, I'm not arguing for one minute that this is not an important thing for the Government to support. Women had to lobby very hard to get that support in place and it's arguable that they still don't have enough, that there's still long waiting lists for many women to have breast reconstruction. But when we look and compare that to the treatment of breast cancer it raised really disturbing questions. After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in Australia.

If you look at the 2006 figures, under 13,000 cases were diagnosed each year for breast cancer compared to over 17,000 for prostate cancer and that figure is now creeping up to the 20,000 mark. Men who lose their capacity to get erections have a similar blow to their self-esteem as women do - their sense of masculinity, their ability to enjoy lovemaking and their relationship with their partners. So how did this happen? It's a really interesting history actually because we had one of the erection treatments called Caverject, an injection treatment, was on the PBS from 1996 to 2002

and then along came Pfizer and made an application for Viagra to also be available for men who had had prostate cancer treatments and for other problems such as diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's and so on. What happened as a result of that is the PBS Advisory Committee recommended that Viagra be approved but warned of the potential blowout in costs and the result was that all these drugs were taken off the list. And so now we have a situation

where the only men who get compensation for their treatments are veterans who can get it through the repat PBS, provided it's a war-related injury, which I think - although apparently you can get around that a bit. But essentially we have a situation where a lot of men simply can't afford

the sort of treatment they need to enable them to recover from the prostate cancer treatments and it's having enormous consequences on their relationships. I think there's basic issues of equity here and yet at the heart of this is why aren't men complaining? And I think that's pretty understandable, it's pretty hard to march in the street for an erect penis. And, of course, men rarely talk publically about these issues at all. But today we are launching a campaign. I have today, with me, members of the Urology Society of Australia and New Zealand and the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and all these organisations are coming together to highlight this issue - and these are organisations which deal, on a daily basis, with men who are struggling with these issues. And we're going to come together when we have a new government and try to lobby them to take the plight of these men more seriously. Now, of course, cost isn't the only issue.

There were all sorts of other factors that emerged as sort of stumbling blocks for men who are using these sort of treatments and I suppose the most obvious is the issue I was talking about last time I was here last year which is the sexually reluctant woman. Many men flying high with their rejuvenated penises are brought swiftly to earth by their sexually disinterested partners. And this is a real issue, and it was so interesting looking at how this played out

when men were actually trying to use the treatments. You've got treatments like Viagra which actually take about an hour, usually, to kick in. And that is a real problem if you are a man who has to really work on your partner to get her in the mood, you know, to woo her, to seduce her. And I had so many men writing to me saying that they'd lost track of the times they'd popped a little blue pill, only to find her fast asleep by the time it was working. One man who was using the injection treatment said, you know, everything was good, he had the green light, she was really interested, and by the time he'd injected himself and come back into the bedroom, not only was she gone, the bed was made, she'd totally disappeared. Psychologist and sex-therapist Bettina Arndt on what men want in bed. To see the full uncensored talk, head to our website at or watch the extended mix on Wednesday at 11am on ABC1. Next up, Professor Patrick McGorry, was recognised as this years top Australian for his 25 years of service to youth mental health. Delivering the annual National Republican Lecture in Canberra just after the Federal Election in September. He compares the Australian nation to a 27-year-old who won't leave home. McGorry calls for Australia to emerge from this prolonged adolescence and get going as a republic. During the period since the 1960s, in which Australia could have conceivably matured, overcome cultural cringe and became a genuine republic, we have see a slow-down in the rate and quality of maturation of recent cohorts of adolescents. So since the sixties, the process of becoming an adult has really slowed down and become much more protracted. So when children start on the road to adulthood earlier these days they do it in a precocious way - you've heard terms like "tweens" I'm sure. So they're becoming adolescents even before puberty, in a social sense. The road itself is much more stretched out, and the trek is much longer, a much longer one. It's easy to lose one's way, to lose heart, to turn back and regroup. Some fall by the wayside, many are damaged or disabled and this has been, obviously, what we are very concerned about in terms of youth mental health reform and investment. Some just take time out, but most actually do make it in the end, if belatedly. Oddly enough, just like Australia herself, even though in all practical aspects they seem adult,

recent research clearly reveals that young people in the early 20th century, describe themselves subjectively as not fully mature or independant. So Australia's like the 27-year-old who just won't leave home. GRUDGING LAUGHTER We're a Gen-Y nation. The key tasks of this long, transitional period of emerging adulthood, are to develop a sense of identity as an individual person, to physically separate from the family of origin, and live independantly, to obtain meaningful employment and support oneself financially. To develop a strong peer network of friends and evolve an adult to adult relationship with one's parents. Threats to this, these days, include rising family discord and chaos rampant materialism, and the widespread availability of alcohol and drugs. Those are just some of the things that have been seen as risk factors or causes of these problems. But what's Australia's excuse? While disadvantage can blight lives during this transitional stage, we often see the offspring of the very privileged and affluent struggle with these tasks. This provides a clue to Australia's maturational arrest. We haven't had to fight for our sense of identity in our own right. Historians have often pointed out that the major wellsprings to this aspect of our national identity, are either battles fought on behalf of our parent, Britain, or ones fought side by side with a surrogate parent, or much older sibling - the USA. And we're obviously seeing that happening right now. So this sibling had come to our rescue in a time of huge threat and that's when the relationship kind of shifted. As with the children of the rich, we've had much less motivation to fight for ourselves. That's an old argument, I'm sure you've heard that one many times before that compares us

unfavorably with Ireland, with India, the US itself. As well as a host of successful and not so successful post-colonial nations. I'd also say, however, that the early post-colonial period can be very harsh, since the colonial experience can be like being a ward of the state. The state, just like the colonialist, is all too often a very bad parent. We're well aware of the sad state of so many children during state care, and beyond - that is the graduates of orphanages and statutory care. And we can see that same history played out on the macro level in lots of different ways. Now the second force eroding our initiative and independence, is the affluence and materialism that has taken hold in recent decades in Australia and the developed world. The comfort zone that we now inhabit, in my opinion, has sapped much purpose, meaning and values from life in general. This makes it hard for us to find direction in life as individuals, and collectively as a nation. I'm sure you've read lots of other books by other people on this sort of more general topic, like Affluenza and the works of Richard Eckersley here in Canberra, he's written very well about this type of topic. The thirst for maturity and authenticity that's been created by this sad trend, is what's been on view in recent days as the pubic gave its verdict on whats on offer during the election campaign. It's from this depleted soil that springs the prevailing orthodoxy that the republic, while supported in principle, isn't a priority. Like so many other national priorities, the republic has no real champions. Other grubby materialistic and hedonistic issues are more pressing. Progress is deferred and thus denied, and we are repeatedly told, and meekly accept, that we cannot focus on multiple agendas. Meaningless symbols are not important. And our buried and potential identity which I referred to earlier, is a peripheral issue. But I do sense from last weeks election result, that this is a serious misreading of peoples deeper needs and desires. And we were chatting about that, some of us, on our way in. I think it's a serious misreading. We now see these aspirations projected onto a small band of independant MP's. It's a big ask. Leaders will not promote issues of the republic, nor other issues of principle, for fear of offending the focus groups. So where will the momentum come from? This is where we need to return to the example of the liberator, Daniel O'Connell and adapt it for the 21st century. How can the republic become a mainstream issue? Well let's consider all the strands of our multicultural Australian and see how they can be woven together

to securely embrace maturity. And let's start with Indigenous Australians. Larissa Behrendt points out in her 2005 National Republican lecture "The Australian Dream: Indigenous peoples in an Australian republic".

That the republic must capture the hearts and minds of Australians, and encapsulate the values that make us uniquely Australian. She includes among these, the "fair go", and drawing on Mark McKenna's work, sees reconciliation as essential to the creation of the republic. Paul Keating, arguably our greatest Australian republican, in his iconic Redfern Park speech of the 10th of December 1992, some fifteen years before the national apology of 2008, made the following statement, and it's worth noting that there's a bit of a brawl broken out this week, about who actually wrote the speech and who gets the credit for it. But I guess that's understandable, given what a great speech it actually was. I did write this one, by the way. LAUGHTER So anyway, Paul said, they have shaped our identity, they are their in the Australian legend, we should never forget they helped build this nation. And if we have a sense of justice as well as common sense, we will forge a new partnership. So that's in 1992. He also went on to say that the message should be that there is nothing to fear or to lose in the recognition of historical truth Or the extension of social justice, or the deepening of Australian social democracy to include Indigenous Australians. And I think that recognition of historical truth is what I was alluding to earlier in the talk, when I was referring to the buried and forgotten legacies of republicanism.

Anyway, this latter message I think resonates with the integration of the egalitarian tradition of the fair-go of Maquarie and the related anti-authoritarian legacy bequeathed from the convicts and especially the cohorts of political prisoners and dissenters. And even though states without a convict history took in the dissenters, the dispossed of Ireland and the poor of Britain. So that's where our Australian character, I think, comes from our general, why we're different from other peoples in the way we actually think about ourselves and relate. In the wake of Kevin Rudd's apology of 2008, the key unresolved issues revealed as the original British claimed the sovereignty of Australia. While the apology may have facilitated some resolution of the many atrocities and humiliations committed during the course of colonisation. It's hard to see how the unextinguished claims of the Aboriginal peoples to sovereignty of this country, can be responded to while the Union Jack still has pride of place on our flag, and the Queen of England is still head of state.

Only a republic can transcend this problem. Once again the Irish experience seems relevant to me, in trying to understand the Aboriginal perspective. Last year I spent a period of sabbatical leave in Ireland, the first time I'd actually lived there as an adult. I probably felt things very much from the standpoint of the exile or "plastic paddy", as we are sometimes derided including by my young son. I read Irish history in depth again,but with a different insight,

and during the crash of the Celtic tiger. It's a long colonial history of genocide and ethnic cleansing and cultural vandalism, similar in style to what beset the Aboriginal people of Australia and other new world countries. I don't think many people realise that, actually, if they haven't read or experienced the history. The effects were similar for a long time during the colonial period, and even after independance in 1921,

it's taken 90 years to overcome these. There are still residual stains in the national psyche of Ireland, marking a subtle lack of self-belief under stress which you didn't see during the Celtic Tiger, just immediately after you saw that self doubt coming to the surface again. And what I thought, to an Irish-Australian like me,

I've lived here for 42 years, I was disconcerted to see an unexpected respect for authority, disconcerting to the exile who idealises the egalitarianism and the fighting spirit which have been gifts of the Irish to the new world.

So that was disturbing for me to see that, and I think Australia has a much healthier attitude in that respect. The healing and cleansing of these colonial stains, centrally involves reconciliation of all strands of Irish life. In the Republic of Ireland for example, there's a belated recognition of those Irishmen, Catholic and Protestant, like my relatives, who fought not with the venerated IRA heroes who liberated Ireland during the war of independance from 1918 to 1921 but for the British army in WW1 in much larger numbers. There was about 3000 IRA who defeated the British. There was 70,000 Irishmen who fought with the British in the first World War and they had really been locked out of that period of history, those people. So that kind of reconcilliation is now starting to happen.

It's incredibly positive. I learned that even Republican Independents from the long-hated Colonists didn't rapidly or fully resolve the hurt and humiliation

for the long dispossed, but that time and reconcilliation were needed for this to approach completion. So what it made me think about Australia was - how challenging and central will this process be for Aboriginal people, even in the new Australian republic? The republic will be necessary. I think it's vital and essential,

but not sufficient for reconcilliation within the Indigenous people of this land. Now, turing to those migrants and refugees of the post-war period with no connection to England or Britan - it's likely that they will feel much more at ease within a multicultural Australian republic and again I've carefully read Hugh Trounges 2004 National Republican lecture, which supports this point of view,

emphasising how a republic would overcome the insecurity

of the guest mentality that many still feel.

This insecurity feeds, and is fanned by the hysteria of recent years flowing from the asylum seeker debate and the related tide of primitive nationalism which culminated in the Cronulla riots with the current Australian flag was misused and tarnished. An Australian Republic, and I believe a new flag, and this is where I think my personal opinion is a little bit different

from the Republican's Movement's view at the moment. I think a new flag will clearly build conference of non-Anglo migrants as stakeholders in the future of Australia. Professor Patrick McGorry, delivering the annual National Republican Lecture in Canberra. And to see that talk in full go to our website - or watch out for it on ABC News24. Well finally today, Cate Kennedy loses her grammar. For the launch of the 2010 Melbourne Writer's Festival eight guest authors were asked to reflect on what it means to be human. Storyteller extraordinaire, Cate Kennedy tells this endearing tale of what her three-year-old has taught her about creativity in language.

It all started from a conversation with her daughter who was grappling with why the sky is often described as being rainy and cloudy, but never darky. My daughter wakes up of a morning, and her mind instantly revs into a perfectly tuned machine

of creative enquiry, free of guile, ready to get started. "I want a biscuit!" "Oh, do you now? And what's the magic word?" "Um.... ..abracadabra?" LAUGHTER "Yeah, fair enough," I say. I wish when I was sitting at the desk that I had a quarter of her inventiveness and faith in that flashing power of language because, like Shakespeare, she believes if you haven't got a word for something, just make one up! There's probably no time in her life

she is ever going to be this linguistically unselfconsciousness again. Soon enough, she'll be corrected when she invents or mispronounces a word, just like I found myself doing with "yesternight" in the car. And soon enough, the world is going to be very anxious to let her know that her rich and complex attempts are actually mistakes to be fixed or gaffs that adults will ask her to repeat like some sort of comic performance.

And I try really hard not to ask her to repeat those attempts to other adults no matter how cute they are. Because I hate that dawning realisation on her face that the word she used sincerely is a joke to others and its a joke that we're all sharing except for her. And yet still I find myself unthinkingly and reflexively correcting her, even when it doesn't matter. What could it possibly matter, for example,

that she knows a conductor uses a baton rather than a stick? Its such a narrow, deeply rutted track, that prescriptive path of the correct answer. I see kids struggling with it when I try and teach a poetry session in a school, for example, and sometimes I have to resort to games, so I say, "Let's describe the world using every letter except the letter 'a', or words that are just one syllable or lets describe a day at the beach using similes and the person who uses similes that no-one else has thought of is the winner." "What'll they win?" say the kids. "Oh, I dunno, this Freddo frog," I say. The kids faces look at me with a mixture of wary apprehension, and suspicion and anxiety

I have never seen yet seen on the face of my three-year-old and someone will say, uneasily, "Is this a test?"

LAUGHTER And I'll say "No, have a go, it's just for fun." It's been my limited experience that the older the kid, the harder they find an exercise like this. And, just like Picasso said, all the best artists are in kindergarten. I'll never forget the grade three girl once, who wrote, "The sun, like a slice of pineapple and my dad's big watermelon smile."

If I could write a line like that

I would count myself a better poet. In fact, I think the most valuable thing I think I was taught about poetry came from a four-year-old child. She was home from play group and she was pumped with a very important discovery. She said, "Do you know what? This is five. Do you know that? That's five." LAUGHTER And I said, "Yes, I know," which is, of course, the answer that excited kids must get all the time. And she said, "You know what? That is also five." LAUGHTER They are both five. And I said, because I am a diligent absorber of 15 years worth of competitive education, "Yes," I said, but what about when you put them both together. Do you know what you get then?" And she said, "Yes, a butterfly." LAUGHTER In that moment, let me tell you, I felt a piercing jolt of pure envy. I wanted her wonderful, limber, exultant, four-year-old brain. Not my own. Because, clearly, all I could see was ten. One tunnel vision correct answer. 5 plus 5 equals 10 - that's all there is to it.

And I was 38 before I really tried to write a poem and I still find it's the hardest thing of any form to even attempt. Something is lost there in me, it's choked into submission, the thing that would let me observe, in a flash, that 5 plus 5 might occasionally equal a butterfly - that rush of seeing that - butterfly. (LAUGHS) It feels like it's a vestige of it left there, like a little patch of remnant rainforest and the rest is all plantation, all present and accounted for.

I wonder about this fear of getting it wrong and the way it misplaces our inspiration and true intention the way some first-year university students once reacted when I asked them to write me a short outline and give it to me with their poem when they submitted it so that I could understand better what they were trying to do. Oh, there was this sea of eager hands. "How long did the outline have to be?" I said, "Well, don't get sidetracked by it. Just as long as it needs to be. Let's just say half a page or a page," I said. "Is that single spacing or double spacing?" LAUGHTER "Single spacing." Then came the clincher. "What size font?"

LAUGHTER I really wish I was joking about the font question but I'm not. "Mum," says my daughter.

"Mmm?" "Do you know, this broom is tired because it's sweepy, it's really sweepy." LAUGHTER Oh, remind me again never to correct this. Let me see the unadulterated delight on her face and remember how it felt. Remind me again that writing is sitting at a desk and willingly getting it wrong over and over and over again,

acknowledging that not everything in this world has a name.

I'm sweeping the porch with that broom, thinking about this, thinking about thinking about it, which is probably my fatal mistake. And yet her unselfconsciousness

has attuned me more sharply than before to the beautiful precision that is possible with language if only we paid better attention.

I'm struck by this. I'm thinking about being struck. About how we say we're struck or touched by something or riveted by it. Riveted by something. Or drawn to it like a fish is drawn to a boat, inexorably hooked. I'm hooked on this, alright. The idea that a word delivers us some kind of hidden metaphor without even trying, that buried underneath our everyday language is something so utterly picturesque. And the way we say we're 'awestruck' and yet 'grief-stricken' as if grief doesn't actually strike us

or as if awe hits us suddenly square in the face while grief leaves us stricken and that form is preserved and somehow the word is still shaded now with a different sense of trauma, a different impact. If I just marshall all these verbs together and then my daughter sails past on her scooter effortless as a breeze. "Look at the dog," she calls. "She's got such runny legs!" LAUGHTER Now, speaking of runny legs - do you know that when the word 'lengthy' came into common usage in the English language it was mocked by the word purists. "Oh," they said, "whatever next? Widthy?" LAUGHTER I think, well, "Yeah. Why not widthy?" I was thinking about this strolling home across the track from my little study last night. "Mum," my daughter was calling from the house. "It's time to come and read a story. Come and read one very now." Now the sun, that big slice of pineapple, had gone down,

and the first few stars were appearing. And I humbly submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, I put it to you, that the sky at that moment, was not crepuscular, or twi-lit, or gloaming, or eventide or dusk-like, it was not noctilucent or meridian, or murksome or even tenebrous. Yesternight. Just very then, at that moment, the sky was darky.

Thank you. APPLAUSE Thank you. Author Cate Kennedy, one of the guests of the session Eight Ways to be Human, opening this year's Melbourne Writers Festival.

Well, that's all for today. Hope you enjoyed that humanising collection of Big Ideas. For more, point your browser towards our website There you'll find full-length versions

of everything you've seen on the show today plus a vast selection of the brightest and the best talks and lectures around. And don't forget Wednesday's at 11:00 on ABC1 is where you'll find the newest serving of Big Ideas Extended Mix. And look out for Big Idea on ABC News24.

I'm Tony Jones. Till next time. Closed Captions by CSI


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