MEJ Masthead

The Great Debate returns

Madeleine Wood

It’s that time of year again ladies.

Get your debating pants ready and ironed, make sure they have an elastic band as you will need laughing room. Grab that power suit from the box in the garage.

It’s going to be a “whole load of debating fun on a serious topic over a long lunch whilst networking and celebrating diversity in the workplace!” says Australian Institute of Management’s (AIM) Margot Smith, GM Engagement and Marketing.

The Topic

This year’s Great Debate sees two teams going head-to-head to hash out the ‘for’ and ‘against’ of the topic, “Positive Discrimination Works.” 

It’s a topic close to the heart of Master of Ceremonies, NRL Footy Show host, Erin Molan. Erin began her career as a reporter in Canberra and has faced her fair share of discrimination, with Twitter mentions urging her to “stay in the kitchen”.


MC Erin Molan

Positive discrimination. It sounds like an oxymoron… how could something as bad as discrimination ever be considered a good thing?

It is a concept that sees some organisations hiring women over men because of gender rather than skills, or choosing older people over the younger selection, given the Federal Government financial incentive to hire over-50s. Is this ok? Is it right for someone to choose you because you’re a member of a disadvantaged group?

That’s what the Great Debate is all about — a chance to hear two teams of exciting speakers bring forward various (often hilarious) opinions on what this topic means to them.

So who are the teams?

The Affirmative Team

Frances Crimmins, Executive Director of YWCA Canberra, a non-for-profit feminist organisation.

Nipuni Wijewickrema of GG’s Flowers, a floristry business giving employment opportunities to those with special needs.

Phillip Coorey, Chief Political Correspondent for The Australian Financial Review, and specialises on writing news on policy, politics and budget.

Nip Wijewickrema and sister Gayana. Photo by: Hannah Walmsley 666 ABC Canberra

Nip Wijewickrema and sister Gayana. Photo by: Hannah Walmsley 666 ABC Canberra

The Negative Team

Amanda Daff, expert in the field of workplace relations and leading the way inspiring people to obtain the skills to navigate complex human environments.

Ben Pettingill woke up at age 16 to discover he had lost 98 per cent of his eyesight due to a rare genetic syndrome.

Catherine Carter, Principal with Indigo Consulting Australia and a regular media commentator on issues surrounding the development of Canberra.

Join the debate!

The Great Debate is always a fantastic afternoon of lively conversation and laughter. Grab your girlfriends — and guys too (AIM doesn’t discriminate) — and get along!

the essentials

Who: Australian Institute of Management
Where: National Convention Centre, 31 Constitution Avenue Canberra City
When: Friday 29 July, 12pm to 2:30pm
Tickets: Visit Event Registration
Organise a table or come along and network.


Madeleine Wood

Madeleine is a lover of coffee, baby animals, striped tops, pasta, pop culture, skiing, water sports, the colour black, indoor plants and of course, writing. She loves spending her free time out to eat with friends or curled up on the couch with a book and her dog on her lap. Coming from a family of farmers and country-goers, she often finds herself explaining why she has holes in her jeans at family gatherings. More about the Author