Ukestra - Image courtesy of TEDx Newy - Photographer Nigel Paterson

It only seems appropriate that to conclude this series of reviews, we talk about what brings us all together: Life and Death. From our paradoxical reproductive fate by JOHN AITKEN to reclaiming the process of leaving this world with PETER SAUL, we heard about some ways we can build stronger, healthier communities to live with and be a part of. LIZ MULLINAR and SARITA KOUSHIK spoke of the importance of relieving early burdens, ALLI HAMMETT brought attention to a silent killer and MARK JACKSON builds communities armed only with a Hawaiian shirt and a ukulele.

The Unspoken is a powerful yet minimalist short film by JASON VAN GENDEREN. Dedicated to his father and families living with terminal cancer, this movie finds the courage to softly speak the words that too often remain unspoken until it is too late even to scream.

John Aitken - Image courtesy of TEDx Newy - Photographer Nigel Paterson

JOHN AITKEN spoke about the paradox of our “reproductive fate”, globally and locally. While the global population has just exceeded 7 billion, our Western nations are in desperate need of new lives. Whether we will manage this balance is anyone’s guess. 

Highlights from JOHN AITKEN:

– By 2050, 90% of the world’s population will be living in developing countries, therefore the question of fertility and/or contraception occupies two fronts.

– In developing nations, both pregnancy rates and the spread of STIs need to be addressed simultaneously  through new types of contraception. Despite advances in every other form of technology, contraceptive methods have evolved very little since the 1960s when avoiding pregnancy was the sole focus.

– In Western nations, “cultural infertility” and advanced age pregnancies are leading to an increasing reliance on assisted conception. Currently in Australia, 1/30 children is born through assisted conception and the numbers are rising.

– Male infertility is a major factor. Currently, 1/20 males is infertile. While males do not stop producing sperm, the amount of sperm damage increases significantly with age. Tick tock.

Liz Mullinar - Image courtesy of TEDx Newy - Photographer Nigel Paterson

LIZ MULLINAR encouraged us to think about the early causes which may lead to self-destructive behaviors and the importance of the healing process when dealing with the survivors of childhood trauma. 

Highlights from LIZ MULLINAR:

– The figures linking childhood trauma to self-destructive behaviors later in life are overwhelming. For example, 92% of heroin addicts have experienced some form of trauma during childhood.

– Trauma can be physical, mental, emotional, sexual… It usually can not be remembered as the emotion is more than the brain can cope with. Survivors of trauma are stigmatized in our society and often experience feelings of shame and embarrassment, leading to a deafening silence around the whole issue.

– The healing process can start with a very simple question, “Did anything happen in your childhood?”

A social entrepreneur, community activist and stroke survivor, ALLI HAMMETT is on a mission to “make stroke sexy” and give this issue the attention it deserves.

Alli Hammett - Image courtesy of TEDx Newy - Photographer Nigel Paterson

Highlights from ALLI HAMMETT:

– Strokes are the number 1 killer in Australia, striking every 6 seconds.

– Despite alarming statistics, research, prevention and treatment relating to strokes rank at number 13 in terms of government funding.

– “Like” the “let’s make stroke sexy” facebook page to get involved.

Mark Jackson - Image courtesy of TEDx Newy - Photographer Nigel Paterson

MARK JACKSON describes himself as a “community musician” and his weapon of choice is a 3 chord ukulele. At the forefront of a global movement, Newcastle’s UKESTRA, a ukulele community based orchestra started about 2 years ago, is hard at work building itself a bit of reputation at home and overseas (Hawaii) while keeping the good times rolling. 

Highlights from MARK JACKSON:

– Canadian parents are breathing a collective sigh of relief as schools have started teaching the ukulele instead of the recorder.

– “Give people iPods and they can play music to themselves, give people a ukulele and they can make music with each other.”

– Making music together builds healthier, more well rounded communities and therefore, healthier individuals.

– Don’t miss UKASTLE UKESTRA on Australia’s Got Talent!

SARITA KOUSHIK, a doctor in Speech Pathology, shared the basis of her work on treatment and research for early stuttering using the “Lidcombe program.” Her research focuses on the frequency and length of early intervention treatment to achieve a near zero stuttering level in children. Less than 3 minutes long, Sarita’s talk was concise and to the point, making the whole thing its own highlight.

Peter Saul - Image courtesy of TEDx Newy - Photographer Nigel Paterson

PETER SAUL, Director of Intensive Care at Newcastle University, spoke of the experience of dying in the 21st century and the importance of reclaiming the process. No one likes to speak about it but being prepared is still the best way for one’s choices to be respected. 

Highlights from PETER SAUL:

– 1/100 people have a plan once their hearts stops beating, 1/5000 in case they become seriously ill. Do you have a plan?

– In the event you became too sick to speak for yourself, who should speak for you?

– Most people want to have some control over the way they die. Think about it while you can and tell someone.

Become a fan of the Aloud. Facebook page to see more links to previous profiles and additional links to websites, films, Art and more. You can also subscribe to this blog and receive regular updates directly to your email.


  1. Thank you Laure for your highlights of TEDxNewy. It’s not only fun to revisit the talks, but to hear your interpretations and learnings of them brings some new perspective. *applause*

  2. Thanks Siobhan,
    It was a good experience writing them. It was such an inspiring day and I hope these little reviews can help me remember it all in the future.
    I guess I wasn’t ready to let that day go completely,
    Thanks for organising it, you did a fantastic job!
    Cheers, Laure.

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