Melissa Castan and Lynette Russell Meet the Author

30 Aug 2023

Melissa Castan and Lynette Russell will be in conversation with Kim Rubenstein on their new book, Time to Listen. An Indigenous Voice to Parliament

In 2023, debate about an Indigenous Voice to Parliament swirls around us as Australia heads towards a referendum on amending the Constitution to make this Voice a reality. In Time to Listen, Melissa Castan and Lynette Russell explore how the need for a Voice has its roots in what anthropologist WEH Stanner in the late 1960s called the ‘Great Australian Silence’, whereby the history and culture of Indigenous Australians have been largely ignored by the wider society. This ‘forgetting’ has not been incidental but rather an intentional, initially colonial policy of erasement.

So have times now changed? Is the tragedy of that national silence-a refusal to acknowledge Indigenous agency and cultural achievements-finally coming to an end?The Voice to Parliament can be a transformational legal and political institutional reform, but only if we really listen to Indigenous people, and they are clearly heard when they speak.

Melissa Castan is a Professor at the Monash Law Faculty and the Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law.. She is a legal academic working in the realm of human rights, public and constitutional law, with a focus on opportunities for the recognition and implementation of proper legal relations with First Nations people. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and is committed to the advancement of social justice through law reform and legal education in Australia.

Lynette Russell AM is an ARC Kathleen Fitzpatrick Laureate Professor at Monash University’s Indigenous Studies Centre. Her Aboriginal ancestors were born on the lands of the Wotjobaluk people, and she is descended from convicts on the other side of her family; she is rather uniquely placed as an historian.. She is the author or editor of fifteen books and is the only Australian scholar to be elected to both the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Anthropological Institute, both in London.

Kim Rubenstein, lawyer, academic, author, distinguished human rights advocate, is a Professor in the Faculty of Business Government and Law at the University of Canberra. Kim is an Honorary Professor at the ANU, Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law and Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. and a regular commentator in the media on citizenship and gender matters.

The vote of thanks will be given by James Blackwell, a proud Wiradyuri man and Research Fellow in Indigenous Diplomacy at the Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs, ANU

This event is in association with Harry Hartog Bookshop. Books will be available for purchase on the evening in the Cultural Centre foyer. Pre-event book signings will be available from 5.30pm, and available again after the event.


• Registration is required for this event.

• Accessible parking spaces are available around campus should you require them.

• To help keep everyone safe, please ensure that you are familiar with, and follow, the advice from ACT Health regarding COVID-19.

• If you do not feel well, please refrain from attending this event.

• By registering for this event, you are accepting our privacy policy.

• A podcast will be made available after the event.

TEQSA Provider ID: PRV12002 (Australian University) | CRICOS Provider Code: 00120C

Similar Events