Big Ideas - Full program podcast

Big Ideas brings you the best of talks, forums, debates, and festivals held in Australia and around the world, casting light on the major social, cultural, scientific and political issues

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Big Ideas brings you the best of talks, forums, debates, and festivals held in Australia and around the world, casting light on the major social, cultural, scientific and political issues
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-08-21 09:42
last episode published
2019-08-22 20:05
publication frequency
1.67 days
ABC Radio National owner   author  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
Society & Culture



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

Where now for the asylum seekers who come by boat?

Since 2013 all asylum seekers who arrive by boat have been diverted to offshore detention and processing. Successive Australian governments say they'll never be re-settled in Australia. About nine hundred asylum seekers remain on Manus Island and Nauru...
ABC Radio National author

Insights into the Banking Royal Commission

The Banking Royal Commission revealed evidence of shocking misconduct, fraud and even crime within banking, superannuation and financial services industry. Adele Ferguson sparked the inquiry with her investigative stories and she takes you behind the s...
ABC Radio National author

Indigenous languages and origins of language

Preserving Australia's indigenous languages and the mystery of human language.
ABC Radio National author

The Fitzgerald Report, and corruption fighting, 30 years on

30 years ago, in Queensland, the landmark Fitzgerald Report was handed down.  Does it still provide a roadmap for greater public integrity and transparency?
ABC Radio National author

Inclusive technology design

Do you struggle with the small text on your phone screen or strain to hear voicemail messages?  Technology throws up problems for everyone but if you have a disability poor design can exclude you from using all kinds of devices. How do we promote inclu...
ABC Radio National author

NDIS and inclusive design

Former Minister for Disability Reform Jenny Macklin describes the creation of the NDIS and designing technology with disability in mind.
ABC Radio National author

Jenny Macklin and the creation of the NDIS

Jenny Macklin held many social policy portfolios over her long political career. As Minister for Disability Reform in the Gillard government she ushered in the NDIS. Jenny talks about the process of winning support for big social policy changes.
ABC Radio National author

The politics of mental health

We talk about mental illness more than we ever have. But the funding and services just aren’t there compared to the system which looks after our physical health. So why is there this huge disparity when the need is so great? Political spin doctor, Alas...
ABC Radio National author

Is free speech an industrial issue?

In an age when you can be sacked for an inflammatory tweet, people are asked to sign ‘morality clauses’ and media ownership remains in the hands of a select few, it seems that the powerful are increasingly able to redraw the boundaries of free speech.
ABC Radio National author

The women who mapped the stars

Dava Sobell discusses the unheralded women scientists of the Harvard College observatory who changed our understanding of the universe
ABC Radio National author

Australian family policy

The stay-at-home mum and the breadwinner dad is a distant memory for most modern parents. And in the 1950s who could imagine paid parental leave and subsidized child care? Three historians weigh up the impact of public policy on Australian families.
ABC Radio National author

Lessons from the Weimar Republic

Why did the Weimar Republic fail to make Germany democratic? There are lessons to be learned for the future of democracy in the 21st century.
ABC Radio National author

Archaeology in the interests of indigenous communities

Any visitor to the British Museum is reminded of the glory days of the British Empire. The collections contain many artefacts from former colonies and the empires of other nations. Mindful of the injustices of the past,  Canadian archaeologists are wo...
ABC Radio National author

Certainty vs insecurity: why Scott Morrison defeated Bill Shorten

Scott Morrison is possessed of certainty. Bill Shorten is insecure. This helps explain why the Coalition was re-elected, and why Labor lost. So says writer, Erik Jensen.
ABC Radio National author

Microbiome – and our health

The importance and function of the human microbiome is just starting to be appreciated. It appears to have a much broader impact on our health than was previously thought.
ABC Radio National author

Saudi women fight for equality

The kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s a magical place if you’re an oil-rich sheik. Not so magical if you’re a Saudi woman wanting personal autonomy. Women can now drive and attend sporting matches , thanks to the new Crown Prince. But has anything really chang...
ABC Radio National author

Sharing science – for the good of all

A scientific career is bases on getting published in peer reviewed academic journals. But this pressure increases the risk for scientists to employ flexible analytic and selective reporting practices. The Open Science movement calls for transparency of...
ABC Radio National author

Andrew Stafford on how music came to his rescue

Writer, Andrew Stafford, talks about how the outsider ethos of rock and roll helped define him, and how it’s been the soundtrack to his life through thick and thin
ABC Radio National author

Race, gender and prisons

We’re building more prisons and we imprison indigenous people at a much higher rate than the rest of society. Prison reformer Baz Dreisinger says it’s a similar picture around the world. Women are also now going to jail in greater numbers. What are the...
ABC Radio National author

Is digital distraction killing our inner life?

Are we losing the connection to our ‘inner self’ with the constant notifications and distractions of digital media? Is solitude needed to nourish a rich inner life?
ABC Radio National author

Eddie Woo and the wonderful world of maths

Do you have a Maths brain? Eddie Woo, Maths teacher and Youtube sensation, believes everyone can learn Maths and it's a critical life skill in the twenty-first century.
ABC Radio National author

Australia and outer space

Australia was one of the first nations to launch a satellite into orbit. Does the recent establishment of an Australian Space Agency signal a re-entry into space related activities? What are the opportunities, and the constraints?
ABC Radio National author

01 | Who Runs This Place? — The Triangle

More power is concentrated inside Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle than anywhere else. The Constitution doesn’t mention the Prime Minister but that office is where the power is. We look at how Prime Ministerial power has changed in the 21st Century. A...
ABC Radio National author

02 | Who Runs This Place? — The Lobbyists

The industries and organisations that get what they want from government. In part two we stay in Canberra and look at the lobbyists, the industries and organisations most effective at getting what they want from the government. We also look at the re...
ABC Radio National author

03 | Who Runs This Place? — The States

The different power players in each state. All six states are led by Premiers and have cabinets — they're the same. But they're also different. In part three, we look at the industries, groups and people who have power in each state, including mining p...
ABC Radio National author

04 | Who Runs This Place? — The People

Union membership is a fraction of what it was but people power is finding a voice through new platforms and movements. People power has given us revolutions, political parties and unions. In part four we look at how people power is now helping to put a...
ABC Radio National author

The digital megatrends shaping your future

Put away the crystal ball. CSIRO's Data 61 has identified the digital megatrends of the next two decades. If you understand the changes ahead you can be the master of your own re-invention.
ABC Radio National author

Sustainable tourism

We all have the travel bug and cheap airfares promote mass tourism. As you wait at the airport, climb on the tour bus or walk shoulder to shoulder through Venice, it feels like the whole world is on the move. Can the planet sustain this level of touris...
ABC Radio National author

Universities – most successful institutions of all times?

It’s not unusual to have universities that are several hundreds of years old and still growing. What’s made universities such successful institutions? And can they endure faced with new challenges?
ABC Radio National author

Homelessness and housing affordability

Many low income Australians experience rental stress and can easily find themselves homeless. How do we make housing more affordable and accessible?
ABC Radio National author

Glaciers disappear as the globe heats up

The 25 Zero Project.  Twenty-five mountains on the equator have glaciers at their peaks. Unless we slow down climate change, in twenty-five years there will be zero ice. 25 Zero.
ABC Radio National author

Renewable fuels for affordable and reliable energy

The race is on to transition to a low-carbon economy. If we ditch fossil fuels will electricity and heating be even more expensive? Three energy specialists weigh up the pros and cons of solar, wind, hydro, biomass and hydrogen.
ABC Radio National author

Renewable energy and 25 Zero

Making renewable energy reliable and affordable and glaciers disappear as climate change bites.
ABC Radio National author

Why Antarctica matters

The frozen confinement holds answers to the development of biodiversity, direct weather patterns across the world and is possibly our best indicator of climate change.
ABC Radio National author

Is a canine companion the best medicine?

Dogs can be trained to do all kinds of things and they have emotional intelligence. It's these characteristics which make them great companions for people with mental health conditions. But can therapy and assistance dogs heal hearts and minds?
ABC Radio National author

Stan Grant on liberalism, identity, and Australia Day

Stan Grant tells Paul Barclay we live in age of grievance, where identity divides, rather than unites, us. He believes liberal values still matter, and changing the date of Australia Day would be a mistake.
ABC Radio National author

China's Great Firewall

China has developed its own version of the internet. The government blocks access to foreign websites like Facebook and Google and it employs a cyber army to monitor social media and censor sensitive topics. Other countries are now looking at adopting ...
ABC Radio National author

The science of sleep

Don’t skimp on your 8 hours of sleep each day! Sleep has a direct impact on social behaviour, mental health and obesity. In fact, you die if you don’t sleep – quicker than you starve to death.
ABC Radio National author

Shifting the Foundations - BBC Reith Lecture 5

Reith lecturer Jonathan Sumption argues that law has expanded to fill the space once occupied by politics. He wants to revitalize the public's interest in politics but says complaints about political elites are misguided. He weighs up proposals to chan...
ABC Radio National author

The internet has fragmented communities, proliferated fake news, distracted children, and led to disengaged citizens, according to Peter Lewis. What happened to the digital Utopia?

The internet has fragmented communities, proliferated fake news, distracted children, and led to disengaged citizens, according to Peter Lewis. What happened to the digital Utopia?
ABC Radio National author

China Ages

After decades of the one child policy who will take care of China's elderly? 350 million people will be sixty-five plus in China by 2040. The one child policy was abolished in 2015 but China's birthrate hasn't increased as expected so aged care may not...
ABC Radio National author

To parent or stay childfree?

Do you want children and, if so, how many and when? Despite lifestyle choices, there’s still the expectation that you’ll find a partner, make a commitment and become a parent. But it’s not exactly going to plan. The birthrate’s going down and more wom...
ABC Radio National author

Choosing to be childless and China's old age boom

To parent or stay childfree? China Ages.
ABC Radio National author

Understanding sharks – better

Did you know that sharks have very distinct personalities? That they have social networks and a ‘home’? A panel of marine scientists tries to change the public perception of sharks. Understanding sharks better can help find the right balance of shark-h...
ABC Radio National author

Rights and the ideal constitution-BBC Reith Lecture 4

The American Bill of Rights is held up as the best way to protect civil liberties and minorities. But entrenched rights from a document written hundreds of years ago can have a downside. Reith lecturer Jonathan Sumption gives his view of the pros and c...
ABC Radio National author

Disruption and surveillance capitalism

Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google - or FAANG - have disrupted our idea of privacy and created what some are calling ‘surveillance capitalism’. And there are other new disruptions ahead.
ABC Radio National author

The rise of the far right

Violent extremism is a global threat. And we’re caught in a deadly cycle of action and reaction. The recent attacks on the mosques in Christchurch shifted the focus from jihadi terror to the growing threat of far-right extremism. What drives extreme ri...
ABC Radio National author

Online help for anxiety

A new training program helps people with anxiety disorder to change their unhealthy thinking patters. It can be done online or even over the phone improving access to professional care.
ABC Radio National author

Human rights and wrongs - BBC Reith Lecture 3

Are there certain rights we're all entitled to as members of the human race? Former UK judge Jonathan Sumption says that the European Court on Human Rights has expanded the definition of rights and it's undermining the wishes of democratically elected ...
ABC Radio National author

John Birmingham on grief, writing, and the publishing business

John Birmingham discusses being blindsided by the depression that followed the death of his father. He also talks about the challenges of being a professional writer in a time of disruption in the media and publishing industries.
ABC Radio National author