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Imagining a new social contract for food and feeding in Australia 

Projects for Coexistence: The Future of Food

IPCS in partnership with the Mildura Writers Festival

Monday 29 November 2021 – 7.30pm at IPCS + Zoom

Please register here.

Farming may well have always been a risky venture, but today farmers find themselves navigating the most complex and pressing knot of issues of our time—myriad effects of climate change, volatile global markets, competition with transnational investors, the transformation of regional communities, rapid technological change, water shortages, degraded soil. 

Australian political culture encourages those of us who reside in cities to imagine farmers as a separate mob, ‘out there’. But as Gabrielle Chan puts it in her new book, Why You Should Give A F*ck about Farming, ‘there is no farmers and others. If you eat or wear clothes, the decisions you make influence farming’.  

Bouncing off this compelling new book our panel will explore the complex forces that dominate the production and consumption of fresh food in Australia. Beginning with the pressures on farmers, it will ask: what is wrong with our food system? Why should we assume collective responsibility for farming practices? What difference could a federal department of food make? Should food be at the centre of a new imaginary and social movement for a just and healthy Australia?

This panel is the final in a series of three events sponsored by the Lord Mayors Charitable Foundation in 2020-21 in association with the IPCS Future of Food project. In 2022 IPCS shall continue this work with events that explore how we can remake city-rural relationships through the prism of First Nations farming enterprises, new movements for regenerative farming and soil health, and an exploration of the possibilities of land sharing arrangements.  

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Date: 29 November 2021
Time: 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm Location: Ashis Nandy Room (IPCS) + streaming on Zoom

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Future of Food Projects for Coexistence



Gabrielle Chan

has been a journalist for more than 30 years, working across News Ltd, the ABC and Guardian Australia. She has covered politics for both The Australian and the Guardian and her essays have been published in Meanjin and Griffith Review. Rusted Off: Why Country Australia is Fed Up (Penguin, 2018) was shortlisted for both the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and the 2019 Walkley book prize. Gabrielle’s most recent book is Why You Should Give a F**k About Farming (Penguin 2021). She examines how farmers find themselves at the intersection of the biggest global issues including climate change, geopolitical tensions, soil loss, corporate power, water shortages and food security and in the process follows the thread between farmer and eater to consider the solutions.

Richard Cornish

, the son of Shoreham dairy farmers, became one of the most respected food writers in the nation. His understanding of where food comes from and how it is grown has lead him around the world writing six books on Spanish food (five cook books with Frank Camorra from Movida and one with Gourmet Pilgrim), another book on Mexican food and co-written several others including Phillippa’s Home Baking. He was the acclaimed commentator on Iron Chef Australia and has a weekly column in Fairfax Good Food in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald called Brain Food.  He has been a judge for the prestigious Banksia Awards and was one of the architects of the Australian Food Awards. His vision for sustainable food events that helped create food communities and offer great experiences to guests have been part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival where he has been a creative director and consultant for over a decade. His love and support for regional Australia continues with his involvement as a consultant and mentor to regional groups across the country including the farmers and producers around Victoria.

Stefano de Pieri

was born in Treviso, near Venice. He migrated to Australia in his late teens and attended Sydney Road Community School whilst working for an Italian Left organisation called Filef. He dabbled with food, attended the University of Melbourne, studying politics, worked as an advisor to various State Labor ministers in the 1980s, lost pre-selection to the Pledge, moved to Mildura via marriage, established Stefano’s restaurant, appeared on the successful Gondola on the Murray ABC television program, established Arts Mildura, served on La Trobe University Council representing regional interests, and in 2019 was awarded Legend status in The Age Good Food Guide. In 2021 Stefano conceived and hosted the SBS program Australia’s Food Bowl. He has a conflicted position on agriculture and food. Stefano is a patron of the Institute of Postcolonial Studies.

Pete Mailler

runs a farming and grazing enterprise in northern NSW near Boggabilla with his wife Clare. He holds a Bachelor of Agricultural Science, has completed the Australian Rural Leadership Program, and maintains other professional affiliations and qualifications. Pete is passionate about agriculture and rural and regional Australia as the cornerstone of our society. He has invested his life into farming and is committed to ensuring there is an opportunity for future generations to prosper in the sector. Pete has an extensive background in industry and community advocacy including leadership roles in the grain industry.  More recently he has been advocating for meaningful action on climate and proactively promoting opportunities in regional communities in renewable energy projects.

Lauren Rickards

grew up in Bendigo with a wide extended family involved in farming. After working for RM Consulting Group on regional issues such as drought management, Lauren returned to research to be able to explore issues in more depth. She is now a Professor in the School of Global, Urban and Social Studies at RMIT University, where she leads the Climate Change Transformations research program, the Climate Change Living Lab and the Urban Futures Enabling Capability Platform. A human geographer, Lauren researches the sociocultural dimensions of environmental change, notably in agri-food systems, and is a Lead Author with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group II on Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Lauren is an IPCS member and part of the team working on the Future of Food project.