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Immigration panel discussion

Defining Moments in Australian History

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Postwar immigration panel discussion

Wednesday 21 September 2016

How have Australian attitudes toward immigration changed over the decades? In what ways has postwar immigration contributed to and changed Australia?Join ABC RN Big Ideas presenter Paul Barclay as he hosts a panel discussion about immigration and the ways it has shaped our cultural identity.

People on a large ship.
Fairfax Syndication.

Meet the panel

Our panel of expert guests will consider how immigration fits with our ideas of Australia as a multicultural and cosmopolitan nation and what Australia might look and feel like in another century.

  • Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane
  • former immigration minister Amanda Vanstone
  • media executive and author Marina Go
  • cultural consultant and activist Tasneem Chopra 
  • historian and author Frank Bongiorno
Dr Tim Soutphommasane

Dr Tim Soutphommasane

Tim has been Australia’s Race Discrimination Commissioner since 2013 and previously held political philosophy posts at the University of Sydney and Monash University. His ideas about multiculturalism, national identity and patriotism have helped to shape debates in Australia and Britain.

Tim was born in France and raised in Sydney. He studied philosophy at Oxford University and is the author of books including I’m Not Racist But ... and  Reclaiming Patriotism. He has written opinion pieces for the The Age and the Weekend Australian and presented the ‘Mongrel Nation’ documentary series on ABC RN. The correct pronunciation of his surname is Soot-pom-ma-sarn.

Marina Go

Marina Go

Marina is general manager of Bauer–Hearst Media, publishing magazines including Harper’s Bazaar and Cosmopolitan. She is chairwoman of Wests Tigers National Rugby League Club and author of Break Through: 20 Success Strategies for Female Leaders.

Marina lectures on digital media at the University of Technology, Sydney and is a mentor to women in media and rugby league. She has an MBA and is on the advisory boards of the Walkley Foundation and Women’s Agenda. Marina is the mother of two young men and is passionate about diversity and equality.

Amanda Vanstone

Amanda Vanstone

Amanda was a Liberal Senator for South Australia from 1984 to 2007. Her ministerial portfolios in John Howard’s government included immigration, multicultural and Indigenous affairs, employment and education, justice and customs and family and community services. 

Born in Adelaide, Amanda studied arts and law at the University of Adelaide and worked in law and small business before joining parliament. Amanda was Australia’s ambassador to Italy from 2007 to 2010. She hosts ABC RN’s Counterpoint and is a regular Fairfax Media columnist.

Tasneem Chopra

Tasneem Chopra

Tasneem is a curator, independent cross-cultural consultant, author and activist whose passion for addressing social justice issues has embraced many platforms.

Tasneem was born in Africa, has Indian heritage and grew up in Australia. She delivers workshops on diversity, identity and racism to audiences from Supreme Court judges to kindergarten teachers.

Tasneem advocates for social change and justice, particularly as these issues have the most impact on disadvantaged and minority groups.

Frank Bongiorno. Photo: Rodney Cavalier.

Frank Bongiorno

Frank is an historian who teaches at the Australian National University. He previously held posts at Griffith University, the University of Cambridge, the University of New England and King’s College London.

Frank was born in Nhill, Victoria and is descended from four grandparents who migrated from the Aeolion islands, off the coast of Sicily. His most recent books include The Sex Lives of Australians: A History and The Eighties: The Decade the Transformed Australia.

Paul Barclay

Paul Barclay

Paul is a Walkley Award-winning journalist and broadcaster with an appetite for ideas and in-depth analysis and discussion.

Paul has produced countless stories over more than 20 years for many ABC radio programs. He also appears on ABC TV.


This panel is part of Defining Moments in Australian History, which aims to stimulate discussion about events that have profound significance to Australian people.

This program was developed in collaboration with ABC Radio National.


Migration Defining Moments

Defining Moments in Australian History includes information about key migration moments including: