Insight: Feb 28

Ian Roberts appears on Insight this week as SBS talks to the people who went against the grain, challenged the status quo, and changed the game.

What makes someone a nonconformist? How does it feel to do things that others say can’t be done? And what are the repercussions?

It only takes one person to change the game for everyone else, but what does it take for them?

IVF pioneer Professor Alan Trounson took his research on sheep and applied it to humans, leading to the first IVF babies born in Australia. With a booming industry, and millions of babies born through IVF worldwide, the game has well and truly changed since 1980 for would-be parents.

Deborah Lawrie fought for over a year in court to be hired by Ansett as Australia’s first female commercial pilot. Her determination made it possible for other women to fly, too – but aviation remains a male-dominated field.

When Bianca Timbers decided to try her hand as a mechanic, she was laughed at and hung up on by almost every workshop in the phonebook. The response from her peers and customers drove her to open her own workshop and become her own boss.

Some things haven’t changed as much as we might think. After coming out in 1995, Ian Roberts is the first, and one of the only openly gay NRL players in the world.

What happens when the game changes too quickly? Biomechanist Bruce Mason helped develop the high-tech Speedo LZR swimsuit, which saw swimmers such as Jessicah Schipper smash records and take home gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The sport had changed, but not everyone was happy about it.

Biomedical engineer, inventor and futurist Dr Jordan Nguyen is changing the game with technology targeted at improving the lives of people with disabilities. He developed a device that allows Jess Irwin, who has severe cerebral palsy, to play music controlled by her eye movements.

Guests include:

Deborah Lawrie
“I just wanted to fly … that’s all it was ever about.”

Dr Jordan Nguyen
“You know that you can have that positive impact, so it becomes both a passion and a responsibility.”

Jess Irwin
“Playing at the Opera House was a very surreal feeling. Four months prior I would have thought it would be humanly impossible.”

Ian Roberts
“I saw the discrimination and the prejudice, the exclusion … it kind of made me feel that I was just being really fake.”

Professor Alan Trounson
“You have to be an optimist … you have to believe in it.”

Anthea Polson
“I thought I was going to be a bit of a guinea pig … we don’t think we’re going to be the lucky ones.”

Bruce Mason
“If you change the game too quickly … in this case, technology took over, and people were more concerned about what suit a particular swimmer was wearing than what the swimmer could do.”

Jessicah Schipper
“It was absolutely unique, to go from the suits that we used to wear … these suits helped a lot.”

Bianca Timbers
“I was calling around trying to find someone to take me on – I would have made between twenty and thirty phone calls, just getting laughed at.”

Tuesday at 8.30pm on SBS.

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