The Stories we tell ourselves

Online and free
30 November to 2 December 2021

This event brings together a range of writers, publishers and academics from Britain and Australia to discuss equity and social justice and the stories we get to hear.

It will feature three thought-provoking panel discussions exploring power, representation and diversity in publishing in Australia and the UK, hosted by the Wheeler Centre, Spread the Word and the Melbourne City of Literature Office.

Author Cath Moore talks about The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Like television, film and other media, the publishing industry is a window into our society at any given time. The choice of books published inform us about our world and, collectively, shape our cultural environment. 

So, who gets published? What forces and choices determine which stories make it into print? Who are the gatekeepers and what are the economic drivers behind publishing decisions? 

New Narratives, New Structures: Fiction on Tuesday 30 November, 6.30pm – 7.30pm


  • Valerie Brandes (Publisher, Jacaranda Books
  • Dr Anamik Saha (researcher, UK),
  • Dr Radhiah Chowdhury (researcher, Australia)
  • Maxine Beneba Clarke (author, Foreign Soil and How Decent Folks Behave
  • Robert Watkins (Publisher Director, Ultimo Press)
  • Hosted by Joy Francis  

If we were to tell the story of publishing in Australia and the UK right now, what would it look like? Would the landscape be an equitable one?

This panel discussion features writers, researchers and publishers from Australia and the UK, discussing urgent questions around representation and inclusion in contemporary fiction publishing, and takes an honest look at just how much progress the industry has made. 

New Narratives, New Structures: Children’s and YA on Wednesday 1 December, 6.30pm – 7.30pm 


  • Cath Moore (author, Metal Fish, Falling Snow),
  • Elle McNicol (author, A Kind of Spark), 
  • Aimée Felone (Managing Director, Knights Of),
  • Dr Melanie Ramdarshan Bold (researcher, UK), 
  • Dr Denise Chapman (researcher, Australia) & Marisa Pintado (Publishing Director, Hardie Grant Children’s Publishing)
  • Hosted by Erin Wamala  

Children’s books provide some of our earliest experiences of the power of storytelling.

We learn to imagine, create and design the worlds we want to see and live in. So, why do the stories we hear, and the people we get to hear them from, often fit within such a narrow spectrum? How can children’s and young adult publishers in Australia and the UK provide more space for under-represented writers to tell their stories? 

Representation, Voice and Agency on Thursday 2 December, 7.30pm – 8.30pm


  • Crystal Mahey-Morgan (founder, Own it!),
  • Emma Paterson (literary agent, Aitken Alexander Associates),
  • Grace Heifetz (literary agent, Left Bank Literary) 
  • Rachel Bin Salleh (publisher, Magabala Books)
  • Hosted by Joy Francis  

Behind the scenes, publishers and agents play a vital role in advocating for better representation in their sector.

This live-streamed panel discussion brings together publishers and agents from the UK and Australia to consider how the publishing industry can better facilitate access and inclusion. What initiatives already exist? Where are the areas for improvement? And what can individuals and companies do to facilitate necessary change?


There will also be a special content series to further explore these ideas, including:

  • 12 commissioned ‘letters to my past or future self’ written by established and emerging Australian and UK writers (published on the Wheeler Centre website on Monday 29 November) 
  • Six 20-minute video dialogues in which an Australian and UK writer will read each other’s letters and discuss the points of connection and difference between their experiences (published on the Wheeler Centre website on Monday 29 November) 
  • Three thought pieces written by independent publishers on the change they believe is most essential to see in their industry (published on the Wheeler Centre website).