Towards a Thriving FutureReviving and reconnecting Melbourne through culture

Coming out of lockdown is as much about social science as it is medical science. As we emerge into a new COVID-normal world, what role will culture play in repairing and rebuilding our communities?

Since March 2020 extended lockdowns and social isolation have significantly impacted not only our physical health but also our mental health, our connection with our communities, and the cultural life of our city.

What can we learn from this challenging time about the importance of connection and inclusion and the crucial role of culture in our individual lives and in the well-being of our community?

As a public institution steeped in natural sciences, history, and culture, Museums Victoria is a source of trusted knowledge in the community and is uniquely placed to foster conversations about the most important issues of our time. This conversation took place in November 2021.

If you would like to support Museums Victoria in presenting more programs of this nature and inspiring a future that is propelled by science, advanced through education, and enriched by a shared humanity, we warmly invite you to make a donation.


Jon Faine, lawyer, broadcaster, and writer

Jon Faine

For over twenty years Jon Faine was the host of the agenda-setting morning broadcast for ABC Radio in Melbourne. Before joining the ABC in 1989 to host ‘The Law Report’ on Radio National, Jon had practised for seven years in both commercial litigation and as a legal aid/human rights advocate.

He is the author of the best-selling book From Here To There, as well as several oral history publications and multiple opinion and commentary pieces for major newspapers.

He regularly appears as a guest on TV and radio and has been a script advisor for several films. The recent 'Covid Safe' ads for the Victorian Government Health Department, featuring Magda Szubanski, Matt Preston, Shane Jacobson, and others were created, written, and produced by Jon in three frantic weeks in the early stages of Covid in 2020.


Sam Redston, CEO, Naomi Milgrom Foundation

Sam Redston

Sam Redston joined the Naomi Milgrom Foundation in 2017, initially to lead MPavilion and the Living Cities Forum, and then as CEO of NMF in early 2020. His passion is to work with great people to nurture and realise ambitious creative visions, advocate for design, art and architecture, build capacity in the creative industries, enable new audiences to connect with design, and enrich the ways we all understand each other and experience the world around us.

Prior to joining the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, Sam worked in theatre and event production, and moved through the key technical production disciplines into the role of producer. His key projects include MPavilion 2014–2021, Program Manager DAE White Night 2017 with David Atkins Enterprises; Founder & Director, Creative Production Services 2008–2015, and a range of other festivals, events and theatrical productions of all scales.

Dr Sandro Demaio, CEO, VicHealth

Dr Sandro Demaio

Dr Sandro Demaio is a medical doctor and globally-renowned public health expert and advocate. Having held the role of Medical Officer for non-communicable conditions and nutrition with the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development at the World Health Organization, Dr Demaio was previously the CEO of the EAT Foundation, the science-based, global platform for food systems transformation.

He has published 30 scientific papers and more than 90 articles and is the author of the Doctor’s Diet, a cookbook based on science and inspired by a love of good food.

Dr Demaio also co-hosts the ABC television show Ask the Doctor – an innovative and exploratory factual medical series broadcasting across Australia and around the world.

Dr Demaio originally trained and worked as a medical doctor at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne and holds a Masters degree in public health, a PhD in non-communicable diseases, and has held fellowships at both Harvard Medical School and Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Dr Vicki Couzens, Vice Chancellor’s Indigenous Research Fellow, RMIT University

Vicki Couzens - Photo © Australia Council 2016

Dr Vicki Couzens is a Gunditjmara woman from the Western Districts of Victoria. Her contributions in the reclamation, regeneration and revitalisation of cultural knowledge and practice extend across various forms of creative expression including language revitalisation, ceremony, community arts, public art, visual and performing arts, and writing.

She is Senior Knowledge Custodian for Possum Skin Cloak Story and Language Reclamation and Revival in her Keerray Woorroong Mother Tongue.

Vicki is employed at RMIT University as a Vice Chancellors Indigenous Research Fellow developing her Project ‘watnanda koong meerreeng , tyama-ngan malayeetoo (together body and country, we know long time)’. The project investigates and examines how revitalisation of cultural knowledges and practices affect healing in Aboriginal individuals, families and communities and builds resilience and capability towards sovereign nation building aspirations, opportunities and a realised living legacy.

Catherine Andrews, Director, The Torch

Catherine Andrews

Catherine Andrews is a Director of The Torch, an arts organisation that addresses the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria’s correctional facilities.

She has a number of other roles including her ambassadorial work for SunSmart at Cancer Council Victoria and The Stella Prize – a major literary award celebrating Australian women’s writing.

Catherine is a professional historian with a Master of Public History. She has been working on communications projects for the past 20 years and has worked with many of our best-known public institutions including the State Archive, Heritage Victoria, Museums Victoria, the Parliament of Victoria, the National Archives of Australia, and State Library Victoria.

Other conversations in this series

Towards a Thriving Future is a series of evidence-based discussions bringing together thinkers, innovators and leaders with diverse perspectives to consider some of the most relevant issues facing us today and how, together, we can create a thriving future.

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