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Imagining a better tomorrow at the 2023 Byron Writers Festival

A woman addresses a large group of people under a marquee


Lee Adendorff
3 August 2023

It's a melting pot of wild creativity and deep thinking at the 2023 Byron Writers Festival this August, with Southern Cross University as a major event partner.

The University is a proud sponsor of the Imaginarium at Byron Writers Festival that runs from 11-13 August. Headline speakers presenting at Imaginarium include co-writer and star of Black Comedy Nakkiah Lui, writer and television presenter Holly Ringland, and award-winning novelists Kevin Jared Hosein, Robbie Arnott and Ellen van Neerven.

A number of Southern Cross University representatives will speak at the Festival. Vice-President (Engagement) Ben Roche will join the panel session Imagine a Green Future, discussing circular economies. Mr Roche said the partnership with Byron Writers Festival enables Southern Cross University to demonstrate its innovative academic and research excellence.

“At Southern Cross University, we value the power of words and ideas. We have partnered with the Byron Writers Festival for over two decades and are excited to be joining the festival again this year to drive discussions about transforming tomorrow,” Mr Roche said.

“We are leading research on regional circular economies through our ZeroWaste research cluster and our Recirculator program, which is partnering with local businesses to realise the upside associated with adopting a circular approach to production in agriculture, manufacturing and construction industries. I am excited to delve into this topic at the Festival.”

Other leaders taking part in the Festival include Faculty of Science and Engineering academic Professor Amanda Reichelt-Brushett and Director of Living Lab Northern Rivers Dan Etheridge, who will join the panel session In Recovery. The session will discuss new methods of fostering community resilience following the 2022 flood events in the Northern Rivers. Meanwhile Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor Mary Spongberg will chair the panel session The Feminist Trajectory, exploring how feminism has changed and its future possibilities.

Young people are also being encouraged to ideate a better future through the Greener Futures Writing Prize, which is proudly supported by Southern Cross University. The competition was open to all Year 10 and Year 11 students in the Northern Rivers region. Students were asked to write a 500-word piece that imagines a world where climate change and its related challenges have been overcome.  The winner will receive $500 cash, with the prize to be presented at the Festival’s High Schools Day on August 10.

The Byron Writers Festival is Australia’s leading regional storytelling and ideas festival. Southern Cross University is a founding partner and has supported the event since 1997.

The University is a haven for writers and fosters their talent through the Associate Degree of Creative Writing and Bachelor of Arts (Creative Writing).

 Southern Cross University students have the chance to win a double pass to the Byron Writers Festival through the Southern Cross University Facebook page. To enter, post a photo of your favourite place to read in the comments section of the competition post. Entries close 10am 4 August 2023. Head to the competition post for terms and conditions.

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Ben: Here at the Byron Writers Festival 2022, our theme is radical hope. We've invited a lot of authors who have expertise in climate change, gender equality, racial Injustice and then a whole lot of people who are invested in science and environment to to really share their knowledge about what can be done to address some of these really big issues we're facing as a community. It's all about really profiling thinkers who are engaged in this journey of transformation and that is a journey which is really about how we solve the complex challenges that we all face as communities and central to that is really this theme of of transforming tomorrow. What are we going to do now that will set us up to transform tomorrow?

Zoe: I think what's really interesting about what academics do, about what universities are about is really that deep thinking about how society can be better, how can we change um what we're doing to make a better tomorrow. And here at writers festivals we're taking that deep thought and we're bringing it out to the public for people, everyday people to access and digest. So, it really is a perfect alignment for us to be partnering with SCU because we can do that work together, hand in hand.

Evelyn: All of the great moments in history of revolution, of change, of transformation have come from writing and thinking and collectivizing and the kinds of communities that you can build with shared representations through storytelling are utterly transformative.

Mary: Being here is like being, you know, immersed in your profession and you get to meet potentially, you know, people that you've read. You get to talk to them. You get to hear them speak. And I think it's an amazing opportunity for them as creative practitioners. Students being out there and helping us to get the word out about great books to read, great authors to discover is a big part of, you know, what we're doing here today.

River: Felt really expansive talking to Dylan and affirming and inspiring, as well. Really, really inspiring. I feel like Southern Cross have been really incredible in coaching me to be able to perform these interviews. I've never done a formal interview with anyone before and yeah I guess the guidance that they provide us and the opportunity to come as a student because as a student you can't really afford to come to these kinds of things.

Zoe: It's been more than a quarter of a century we can say together and beyond obviously the support, the profess that the University extends to the festival, it's just a fantastic alignment.