Ask Anne to speak at your event

2020 Vision: the need for New-Century Reconstruction


              2020 Vision Why we need New Century Reconstruction The 2017 Kenneth Myer Lecture by Anne Summers AO Ph.d   National Library of Australia 10 August 2017 Brain Centre, University of Melbourne 13 September 2017     Dr Marie-Louise Ayers, Friends of the National Library and other distinguished guests Men and Women of Canberra ... Read More

Her Rights At Work. The Political Persecution Of Australia’s First Female Prime Minister

2012 Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture
University of Newcastle

On Friday 31 August I delivered the 2012 Human Rights and Social Justice Lecture at the University of Newcastle. I chose as my topic: Her Rights at Work. The political persecution of Australia’s first female prime minister. Like many other Australians, I have been disturbed by the double standards that are seemingly applied to Julia Gillard by the Opposition, by ... Read More

  • Work Hard. Be Bold. Have Fun.


    Here is the text of the Occasional Address I delivered at the University of Sydney on 3 May, 2017 after I had been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University:   It is a truly wonderful honour for me to stand before you today to receive the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters from this hallowed University, Australia’s first, established ... Read More
  • Breakthrough for equality


                          Opening remarks     Breakthrough Victorian Women’s Trust By   Anne Summers AO Ph.D Melbourne Town Hall 25 November 2016                   When we consider that it is a mere fifty years since all Australian women white and black, obtained the right ... Read More
  • ‘A beaut bird’ The Margaret Whitlam Oration


                ‘A beaut bird’       The Margaret Whitlam Memorial Oration   Fund-raising dinner for Hon Tanya Plibersek MP Sydney Thursday   20 October 2016           Good evening everyone.   I am so honoured to be here and to have the opportunity to pay tribute to the memory of Margaret Whitlam ... Read More
  • Media Mogulettes then and now

    Harvard Monday Club

    Ladies and Gentlemen I was very pleased to be invited today to, as your invitation, put it, “present [my] views about [my] work”. My working life has been very long and varied – and still continues – so I needed to hone it down to a manageable chunk. Fortunately, that was very easy. An invitation from the Harvard Club triggered ... Read More
  • Girls Today

    Randwick Girls High School

    Good morning students. And thank you so much Anna Coutts-Trotter for that very generous introduction. It is a great pleasure to be here this morning to be able to share a few thoughts that I hope might be useful to you as young women about to embark upon the great adventure that is life. I last saw Anna a few ... Read More
  • Address to Graduation Ceremony

    University of Adeaide

    Distinguished guests, Graduands and their families and friends It is a very great pleasure for me to be here and finally accepting a degree in this wonderful Bonython Hall at the University of Adelaide – my old alma mater. The last time I had the opportunity to do so was in 1970 when I graduated with an Arts degree from ... Read More
  • Faith and Feminism

    Memorial Service for Faith Bandler
    Great Hall Sydney University

    Friends of Faith I am going to talk today about Faith and feminism. I am going to pay tribute today to a part of Faith Bandler’s life that is not as widely known as the many other things for which she is rightly famous and for which she is remembered and honoured. Fighting for women’s rights was a constant in ... Read More
  • Sydney PEN Free Voices Lecture

    Sydney Writers' Festival
    Walsh Bay, Sydney

    Why are we even having this conversation? The politics of who is allowed to say what in Australia today. Good afternoon fellow proponents of free expression and free speech. It is my great pleasure to be here today in support of Sydney PEN by delivering the first of the 2014 Free Voices lectures. On Wednesday week we will mark June ... Read More
  • Why Women Should….

    Keynote Address
    YWCA SheLeads Conference

    Good morning everyone and thank you for the opportunity to address this important conference. I see my task this morning as being to introduce some ideas to help set the scene for the work you will be doing for the rest of the conference. A couple of these ideas might seem rather provocative – at least to some of you ... Read More
  • The Impact of Misogyny and Sexism on Australian Families

    Australian Family Therapy Conference

  • The Misogyny Factor

    Jessie Street Annual Luncheon
    Sydney, NSW Australia

    Friends It is a great honour to stand before you today to deliver a speech that honours the memory of Jessie Street, one of the greatest fighters for women this country has known. We all know of course that she was a feminist as well as socialist – despite being married into the Establishment – that she campaigned all her ... Read More
  • The Literary and Artistic Cross

    Walkie Talkie
    Café DOV, Potts Point

    Tonight I want to pay tribute to the literary and artistic traditions of 2011, the area encompassing Potts Point, Kings Cross and Elizabeth Bay. I will talk about writers currently living in this area, take a look at some of the luminaries who have lived her in the past; I will talk a little bit about how writing has changed ... Read More
  • The Equality Project: progress v success


    The Fraser Oration 2012 Canberra 25 July 2012 Andrew Leigh, member for Fraser Ladies and Gentlemen   It is a pleasure for me to be here tonight to deliver the annual Fraser Oration, a talk that honours the memory of Jim Fraser, the first member for Canberra. I would like to pay tribute to Andrew for continuing the tradition of ... Read More
  • The Importance Of Developing And Sharing a Collective Vision

    The Australian Public Sector Leadership Summit 2011
    National Convention Centre, Canberra

  • Australia Women on the Verge

    Keynote Address
    State School Teachers’ Union of Western Australia Conference
    Perth, Western Australia

    Friends It is a great honour to be able to address you this morning; I very much appreciate your generosity in flying me over from Sydney for your conference. It is particularly gratifying to be addressing teachers. I don’t need to tell you that teachers are the most important people in our early lives.  Sometimes our teachers are more important ... Read More
  • The Lost Mother

    Capital M Literary Dinner, Shanghai International Literary Festival
    Shanghai, China

    I very much welcome the opportunity to talk to you this evening about my new book The Lost Mother. The book is about my search for a lost painting of my mother. Or at least that is what it started out being about. It quickly became a lot more than that. The book has been described as being “part art ... Read More
  • On The State Of Our Creative Nation

    Stephen Murray-Smith Memorial Lecture
    State Library of Victoria

    The newspapers the next morning showed a photograph of the prime minister, wearing a trademark light grey Zegna suit, standing close between two Bangarra dancers who were wearing not much more than a laplap and a bit of body paint. It was an endearing – and revealing – image of contemporary Australia. She also talks about the role government can play in developing creativity.
  • Shifting Power: We Changed The World, Now What’s Different?

    Communities in Control Conference 2010
    Moonee Valley Racing Club, Melbourne

  • DCA Diversity Leadership Briefing

    ANZ East Asia Room, 100 Queen Street, Melbourne

    I speak to you this morning as someone who has had a very long involvement in monitoring the status of women, including women’s employment and remuneration. My background as a policy advisor, as a femocrat (as we used to be called when I worked in the federal bureaucracy), as an author and as an activist have all contributed to the views I put to you today.
  • An Artist Lost : Rediscovering Constance Stokes

    National Gallery of Australia

    In 1947, shortly after he arrived in Australia to take up his position as Inaugural Professor of Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne, Joseph Burke was asked by an American art magazine to nominate the Australian artists he most admired. He listed six: William Dobell, Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, Ian Fairweather, Russell Drysdale – and Constance Stokes. Each of ... Read More
  • SWB 2009 Opening

    Opening Address
    Serious Women’s Business Conference
    Melbourne Convention Centre

    Good morning everyone. It is my job this morning to set the scene for this conference of women who are serious about themselves and their business (whatever that is) and who are here to listen, to learn, to ask questions, to network and to come away with a better understanding of how to focus on what is important in our ... Read More
  • THE STORY of the Story: The Story of Writing The Lost Mother

    Talk to the Annual Dinner of the Copyright Council

    I want to talk to you tonight about my new book, The Lost Mother, which was published in July. Since I understand you are interested in how works are created, I thought you might like to hear how this book was created. It is rather an unusual story, with several elements that I think will be relevant to the subjects ... Read More
  • The New GFC: The Gender Fairness Crisis

    Victorian Premier’s Women’s Summit

    The Hon John Brumby, Premier of Victoria The Hon Maxine Morand, Minister for Women’s Affairs Ladies and Gentlemen It is a great honour for me to have been invited to address you today, at the 10th annual Victorian Premier’s Women’s Summit. This is a tremendous initiative, one that I wish other states – and the federal government – would emulate ... Read More
  • The Implcations Of Web-Based Social Networking For Cultural Heritage Institutions

    Paper delivered to Innovative Ideas Forum 2009
    National Library of Australia, Canberra

    Good morning everyone It gives me great pleasure to be able to take part in this interesting and innovative forum that will, we all hope, help crystallise some of the important challenges new communications technologies present to us all. Cultural heritage organisations, especially, are challenged by these. In the case of libraries, charged with collecting and storing information that documents ... Read More
  • Opening SWB 2008

    Opening Address
    Serious Women’s Business Conference
    Grand Hyatt Hotel, Melbourne

    Good morning everyone. It is my job this morning to set the scene for this conference of women who are serious about themselves and their business and who are here to listen, to learn, to ask questions, to network and to come away with a better understanding of the unique connections that bind our society, locally and globally, and which ... Read More
  • Advance Australia Fair

    20th Women, Management and Employment Relations Conference
    Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney

    Advance Australia Fair! I can’t think of a better title for a session exploring issues affecting women in the workplace. Because we want a fair deal for women. We have not had that for far too long but we can hope that, with the election of the Rudd government, that is going to change. In the time available to me ... Read More
  • Third Time Lucky

    Keynote Address
    Australian Services Union Women’s Conference
    Jasper Hotel, Melbourne

    Good morning delegates I am calling today’s remarks Third Time Lucky. I am doing this for two reasons. Firstly because this is the third time I have addressed this conference. I addressed you in 2003 – in Brisbane, at your national conference – and 2005 – here in Melbourne – and now, three years later, in 2008. So I thank ... Read More
  • Launch of Virginia Lloyd’s Book: The Young Widow’s Book of Home Improvement


    LAUNCH of VIRGINIA LLOYD’S BOOK: The Young Widow’s Book of Home Improvement April 8, 2008 When my mother died suddenly three years ago this month, my brothers in Adelaide which is where she lived, asked me – the writer in the family – to compose the death notice for the newspaper. A few hours later, still in a state of ... Read More
  • An International Women’s Day Reflection on Women’s Leadership

    Victorian TAFE Association
    William Angliss Institute orf TAFE, 555 Latrobe Street, Melbourne

    Good evening everyone, and let me wish you a belated International Women’s Day which of course took place last Saturday on March 8. Let me begin by sharing with you a little of the history of this day. It began one hundred years ago in New York with a protest by 15,000 women who walked out of their sweat shops ... Read More
  • Women: Connecting To Our Past, Creating Our Future

    International Women’s Day Address
    WIRE – Women’s Information
    Victoria Room, Level 4, Queen Victoria Women’s Centre, 210 Lonsdale Street Melbourne

    Happy International Women’s Day everyone! (We are a bit early, as the actual day is March 8, which means you can celebrate again on Saturday.) Let me begin by sharing with you a little of the history of this day. It began one hundred years ago in New York with a protest by 15,000 women who marched for the right ... Read More
  • Putting Equality Back On the Agenda

    Seventh Victorian Human Rights Oration
    Zinc, Federation Square Melbourne

    Honoured guests, Ladies and Gentlemen We are here today to mark International Human Rights Day and to reflect on the progress of human rights in Australia. It is a day in which we can celebrate our freedoms and it is a day in which we can do a bit of a stock take, to assess where we are, how far ... Read More
  • Defining Success

    Opening Address
    Serious Women’s Business Conference
    Sofitel Hotel, Melbourne

    Note: This speech is Copyright (© Anne Summers 2007) and may not be reproduced or quoted from without the express permission of the author. Contact Anne Summers at: Good morning everyone. It is my job this morning to set the scene for this conference of women who are serious about themselves and their business and who are here to ... Read More
  • Ethics And Gender: Are Women Better Than Men?

    Hunter Valley Research Foundation Democracy and a Civil Society Lecture Series 2007
    Newcastle City Hall

    Good evening everyone and thank you for inviting me to deliver this lecture. It is a great honour to be able to do so, and it is also a pleasure to be able to visit Newcastle again as I do not get the chance to come here very often. I have to confess that I was not among the hordes ... Read More
  • Is Australia Ready For A Female Prime Minister?

    Rationalist Society of Australia
    Trades Hall, Melbourne

    In January 2007, in the same week that in the United States a woman began her historic bid for the US Presidency, the Australian prime minister reshuffled his cabinet and reduced the number of women by one-third. This followed on Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd dropping a woman from his front bench team, reducing the number of women in the shadow ... Read More
  • Are Women In Leadership Responding To Women’s Interests?

    Janine Haines Annual Lecture

    Senator Allison, Friends It is a great privilege for me to be here this evening to give the Janine Haines Annual Address and to have the opportunity to pay tribute to a woman who certainly changed the face of politics in this country. Janine was of course the first woman to hold a leadership position in an Australian political party, ... Read More
  • Equality For Women, At Work and Everywhere

    Keynote Address
    PSA Annual Women’s Conference
    Masonic Club, Sydney

    Good morning delegates It is a great pleasure to be here this morning to be able to talk to you on the subject of women’s equality, and especially women’s rights when it comes to employment and other fundamentals. As you are no doubt aware, women are the drivers of the Australian workforce. The Australian Bureau of Statistics reported in July ... Read More
  • Equality For Women: Where Are We?

    Keynote Address
    Australian Services Union Women’s Conference
    William Angliss Centre, Melbourne

    Good morning delegates I have been asked this morning to repeat some remarks I made almost two years ago now to the ASU National Women’s Conference in Brisbane. That is quite an unusual request – usually people want something new. But there are two reasons for repeating that message. First, I should have been doing it this time last year ... Read More
  • Women’s Equality: Is It Really The End?

    NSW Bar Association
    Bar Association Common Room, Sydney

    Friends A year ago, I published a book called The End of Equality. It surprised a lot of people many of whom said to me they thought it was a subject that was a bit old-fashioned, that we had “been there, done that” when it came to women, that we had won all the battles and what could there possibly ... Read More
  • Giving Voice: Speaking Up For Women Silenced By Our Society

    14th Annual Alicia Johnson Memorial Lecture

    In paying tribute to the life and work of young Northern Territory lawyer, Alicia Johnson who worked in the area of violence, I talk about the epidemicof sexual and domestic violence that is plaguing our society.
  • Women’s Equality: Back On the Agenda?

    Law Institute Victoria

    In this speech I talk about the end of optimism now that the Howard government has been returned and its anti-women policies will continue, and also address the current political firestorm on abortion.
  • The Politics Of Dissent In An Age Of Endangered Democracy

    The Reid Oration
    University of Western Australia

    In this address I discuss the threats to democracy via government attacks on the operations of Non Government Organisations (NGOs).
  • The Politics Of Fighting Back

    Women’s College The University of Sydney

    It is becoming more difficult to exercise our democratic rights to protest. In this speech I look at local and international examples of the limits to dissent.
  • The Crisis In Masculinity Meets The End Of Equality

    Sydney Writers Festival

    Both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have bemoaned the lack of role models for boys. Is there really a crisis in masculinity?
  • The End of Equality?

    The Sydney Institute

    In this address, I outlined the major themes of my book, sketching how I believe the revolution in women’s lives that I once believed was “unstoppable and irreversible” has been put in jeopardy.
  • Where Have All the Women Gone?

    Keynote Address
    ACOSS National Congress
    Rydges Hotel, Canberra

    The theme of this Congress is “piecing it together: equity, empowerment and change” which is a rather apt one for the subject that I wish to address this morning. I have called my talk “Where have all the Women Gone”. I hope you will both recognize – and forgive – the blatant allusion to a 1960s hit song. It was ... Read More
  • The End of Equality? Australian Women and the Howard Government

    The Pamela Denoon Lecture, 2003
    Coombs Lecture Theatre, Australian National University, Canberra

    An exposé of how women’s rights have been eroded in Australia since the election of the Howard government in 1996. “…this government began virtually from day one to systematically dismantle the apparatus designed to achieve and nurture equality of opportunity. What we have today, instead, is a government whose policy – implicit and explicitly – is to remove women from the full-time workforce.”
  • Stalled Or Stuck? Women and Leadership in Australia in 2002

    Opening Address
    ANZ Ladies Masters of Business Conference
    Royal Pines Resort, Gold Coast, Queensland

    Why are there so few women in senior management and board positions in Australia today? Is it that the opportunity is not there or simply that the system operates in such a manner to make it more difficult for women to succeed at this senior level? What does Australia’s history on women’s issues tell us to illuminate these questions?
  • Environmental Wrongs & Environmental Rights

    Keynote Address.
    Forum 2000 Conference ‘Human Rights – The Search for Global Responsibility’. Panel Session: International Institutions and Human Rights

    International Organizations and Human Rights. When you look at this topic perhaps you think the United Nations, the World Trade Organization or the International Monetary Fund. However, when I think “international organization” I think of international non-government organizations such as Greenpeace that have played such a pivotal role in protecting the environment and, as I shall argue, the basic human rights of people around the world.
  • A Hundred Years of Oz

    Insurance Council of Australia Annual Industry Dinner
    Westin Hotel, Sydney

    Looking back over the past one hundred years Australian as a nation has a lot to celebrate. We’ve had seven Nobel Prize winners, have pioneered the world in political and social reform – inventing the secret ballot, the widow’s pension and child endowment; have a reputation for innovation and experimentation – inventing a host of innovations including the black box and the inflatable aircraft escape slide, the bionic ear and the production of penicillin. But despite our achievements and accomplishments Australians are still, in many ways, and insecure and uncertain people… we believe that we live in Godzone country, the greatest country on earth, we just don’t act as if we believe it.
  • M-M-My Generation?

    Panel discussion on the 1960s
    National Biography Award 2000
    State Library of NSW

    Is the generation who came of age in the1960s – my generation – really as their image suggests – self-obsessed, self-aggrandising and self-promoting? Were the ‘60s all they are now cracked up to be – a romanticised period of freedom? I divide the ‘60s into the ‘bad’, the early part of the decade where abuses of power – sexual and institutional – were rife and the ‘good’ the beginning of a new way of thinking, the precursor to the ‘70s!
  • Moving into Sync: The Women’s Movement and Women In the Military

    Women in Uniform: Perceptions and Pathways Conference
    Australian Defence Force Academy, Canberra

    When the passage of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1983 made the subject of women in the military a hot political issue, the women’s movement in Australia remained largely unmoved by the struggles of their sisters in uniform. In some cases, there was even active opposition to the efforts of women to se cure equality of opportunity within the armed services. Over the past fifteen years attitudes have gradually altered and many more women who identify as feminists are willing to take a stand in support of women’s advancement within the military. In the United Stated, feminist ambivalence on this issue reached a high point during the Gulf War when many military mothers went into battle, precipitating a massive domestic debate which forced feminists to take a stand. In Australia, the recent landmark decision of the Chief of the Defence Force to recommend the federal government open all combat positions to women forced a similar soul-searching on the part of the women’s movement here. A significant shift in attitudes was evident from this debate, and it appears that the women’s movement and women in the military are, finally, marching in step.
  • A Dangerous Liaison: Women and the Howard Government


        A Dangerous Liaison:   Women and the Howard Government    by     Anne Summers AO    Australian Women’s Party Fund-raiser   Byron Bay    Saturday, August 1, 1998    Friends   I am very happy to be here today in support of the Australian Women’s Party. The need for women to band together and insist on political recognition has ... Read More
  • Beauty and Desire in Edo Period Japan & Read My Lips

    Exhibitions Opening
    National Gallery of Australia
    National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

    Opening words for the exhibitions “Beauty and Desire in Edo Period Japan and Read My Lips, the works of Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman, National Gallery of Australia, Jun 1998. Two very different exhibitions which are ultimately about women – the Geisha of Edo Japan and the women artists of late 20th century Manhattan. The exhibition portrays two very different cultures each of which has reached the zenith of its current economic, social and political power, so that these images, and these icons, are also historical documents, powerful reminders of eras that have peaked and are now in decline.
  • Back to the Future: Urgent Issues for the Men and Women of Australia

    1997 ACTU Whitlam Lecture Series
    NSW Teachers Federation Auditorium

    Looking back over my long involvement with politics in Australia I think that to be a ‘Whitlamite’ meant to think rationally but to have political passions, to care about justice and equality, and to make these concepts the guiding principles we applied to every area of social and political life. It meant learning to develop positions on such subjects as education, Aboriginal affairs, social security, health policy and, of course, conscription and the Vietnam War. Perhaps strangely, women did not include themselves as part of the agenda because we did not yet have the view that it was necessary. But it was not long before all that changed, and by 1972 the economic and social status of women was very much part of the Whitlam Government’s program of reform. We became ardent about these issues because we were convinced of the essential injustice of so many areas of Australian life, and we were energised by realising not only that change was desirable – but it was both possible and permissible.”
  • The Newspaper of Claremont

    The 1995 Elizabeth Jolley Lecture
    Perth Cultural Centre

    Three successful and accomplished women: Carmen Lawrence, Helen Garner and — somewhat regretfully — myself have recently (1995) been subjected to extraordinary barrages of vilification. The stories are unconnected and the women concerned, despite similarities in age and background barely know each other. I want to explore, through the recent stories of these three women, what the vilification of women in high or public positions means for the continued advancement of women. If it is having an effect on the progress of women into all areas and levels of our society? And if so, is this effect entirely negative or can we discern any benefits at all? Is there a silver lining somewhere in this large black cloud?”
  • Women, Politics and the Millennium

    Flinders University of South Australia

    One hundred years after Australian women first were enabled to vote, the political system stands in clear need of reform to improve the representation of women. The political will to accomplish this appears to be developing, but an even more alluring opportunity exists to rewrite the fundamental rules of Australian politics to enshrine gender equality. The inexorable movement of the ... Read More
  • The Curse of the Lucky Country

    Inaugural Donald Horne lecture
    Sydney Opera House

    “Our country is changing rapidly, especially in its ethnic and racial composition, and we need to redefine ourselves as a result. The ideas we have about ourselves are mostly relics of an earlier time when we were a smaller and more inward looking nation, with a smug sense of superiority. Today we are less certain of ourselves. We are searching for a vision to inspire us, and give us confidence. We want to feel assured that we can take control of our future. We want to be able to feel optimistic.”
  • In the Gutter … Looking at the Stars. A Literary Adventure Through Kings Cross (Edited by Mandy Sayer and Louis Nowra)


    Kings Cross has been the seat of much Australian literary history. Many writers including Dymphna Cusack and Florence James (Come in Spinner), poet Michael Dransfield and M Barnard Eldershaw (the literary name of Marjorie Barnard and Flora Eldershaw, authors of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow), have lived and worked in the Cross. Others, like Barry Humphries, have had far too good a time there (witness his spectacular last bender before going off the booze for good). Its icons have provided the backdrop for many literary works – the Piccolo Bar being the subject of poems by both John Tranter and Yusef Komunyakaa. In the Gutter … Looking at the Stars explores this deep vein of literary history.
  • ‘A beaut bird’ The Margaret Whitlam Oration


              ‘A beaut bird’ The Margaret Whitlam Memorial Oration Fund-raising dinner for Hon Tanya Plibersek MP Sydney Thursday   20 October 2016       Good evening everyone.   I am so honoured to be here and to have the opportunity to pay tribute to the memory of Margaret Whitlam – and to support the work of ... Read More