Conversations with a keynote: Madonna King

05 March 2020

In the lead up to our highly anticipated Asia Pacific Summit on Girls’ Education from 9-11 May in Hobart, Australia we are interviewing keynote speakers to give you an insight into the expertise they will be bringing to the event.

Madonna King – presenting on Cyberbullying

Madonna King is an award-winning journalist, author and commentator. She has long been known as the voice of current affairs in Queensland, heading the top rating current affairs program on the ABC for six years, and winning several national ABC awards for her journalism. Madonna’s ninth book is called Fathers and Daughters and it follows her award winning book Being 14. She has also authored biographies of former federal treasurer Joe Hockey, and Australian of the Year and inventor of the cervical cancer vaccine, Ian Frazer.

Her experience in the media and politics allows Madonna to provide a fascinating yet entertaining keynote about what goes on behind-the-scenes in politics and the decision-making process. She has also been an in-demand speaker for school communities, particularly focused on the challenges faced by teen girls.

A fellow of the prestigious World Press Institute, Madonna has served as a visiting fellow at the Queensland University of Technology, and on the Walkley Advisory Board for Journalism. She has completed a Diploma in Company Directorships, through the Australian Institute of Company Directors and is currently on two not-for-profit boards. She is chair of the Queensland Anti-cyberbullying Taskforce.

Madonna, why is the education of girls important to you?

Best question ever. I have two teen girls. Someone wise once told me you can only really give your children two things. The first is unconditional love. The second is a good education – and that’s why it’s so important to me.
Can you give us some insight into your presentation?
I’ve sought the advice of 1500 teen girls over the past couple of years, and what I learnt about bullying I did not know – despite having two teen girls. And then I chaired the State’s Anti-cyberbullying Taskforce set up in the wake of COAG, and on some days it broke my heart. This is an evolving area so we need to keep up with it. The modes of bullying are changing, the obsession with social media is changing to parents (several teens told us that they went without dinner because “mum was on facebook”, the difficulties schools face – in terms of their duty to care but also their brand –  the role of police here, and what the girls themselves are saying about how bullying makes them feel, and even how it encourages some to join in.
What will educators be able to take away?
Hopefully, a greater understanding of how bullying (including cyberbullying) is playing out, how that is changing, and what is it doing to our teen girls.
What attracted you to the Asia Pacific Summit?
To work with educators in a bid to reduce the harm that bullying is doing to our children inside and outside school hours.