Helene Chung

Author, Journalist, Social Commentator

NB: Speaker not currently available

Helene Chung brings years of experience on live radio and television to captivate her audience. She is a fourth-generation Tasmanian Chinese, an adjunct research fellow at Monash Asia Institute, Melbourne, and the author of Shouting from China, Gentle John My Love My Loss, Lazy Man in China and Ching Chong China Girl: From fruitshop to foreign correspondent.

Where were you born?

On an apple-shaped island often left off the map: Hobart, Tasmania.

What themes are recurring in your work?

The search for identity. The transition from white to multicultural Australia. China’s transition from old communism to new capitalism. Media ethics and practice. Love and loss.

What have been the highlights of your career?

As a young freelancer just arrived in London in 1971, I went to Buckingham Palace to record the first radio interview granted by HRH The Princess Anne. When appointed to the ABC’s This Day Tonight current affairs show (now 7.30 Report) in 1974, I became the first non-white reporter on the Australian box. As Beijing correspondent in the 1980s, I was the first female to be posted abroad by the ABC.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

When I grew up in 1950s Hobart my sister and I were the only Ching Chongs among 500 girls at our convent school, we were the only two with divorced parents, and I was ashamed when my mother broke into Chinese in front of my class mates. Now Chinese seem to be everywhere, Chinese is the most spoken language after English in Australian homes, and divorce is so common that sometimes I’m a rarity.

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