Writer and general practitioner Melanie Cheng delivers an illuminating talk on the neuroscience behind empathy and the unique role fiction plays in enhancing readers’ ability to empathise with others. The Australia Day author and Victorian Premier’s Literary Award winner examines whether empathy is a uniquely human trait, whether too much of it can be a bad thing and whether empathy is strengthened by reading fiction. Melanie provides a fascinating insight into the role of literature in creating a more compassionate world.

Melanie Cheng (Australian)

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Melanie Cheng is a writer and general practitioner. Of Chinese-Australian heritage, she was born in Adelaide, grew up in Hong Kong and now lives in Melbourne with her family. Her writing has appeared in The Age, Meanjin and Overland among others. In 2016, she won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript. Australia Day (2017) is her first book.

Roanna Gonsalves (Australian)

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Roanna Gonsalves is the author of The Permanent Resident, a collection of short fiction about Indians in Australia. Her series of radio documentaries, On the Tip of a Billion Tongues, is an acerbic socio-political portrayal of contemporary India through its multilingual writers and was commissioned and broadcast by Earshot on ABC RN. Roanna is a recipient of the Prime Minister's Australia Asia Endeavour Award, and is co-founder co-editor of Southern Crossings. She has a PhD from the University of New South Wales.