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Event Details

Psychedelics: From ‘Magic’ to Medicinal

17 August 2023
6.30pm – 7.30pm AEST
Science Theatre, UNSW Kensington
This event has ended

Adam Bayes | Wayne Hall | Colleen Loo | Norman Swan

Could psychedelics unlock the answers to managing complex mental health issues?  

Once associated with cults and hippies, psychedelics are now becoming an evidence-based treatment for psychiatric disorders. In Australia there are numerous psychedelic trials taking place and come July, psilocybin and MDMA will be available for prescription by authorised psychiatrists for the first time. This is on the back of ketamine recently being approved for severe depression.  

Who will get access to psychedelics, and what are the ethical considerations of these treatments? Could new psychedelic treatments revolutionise the way the psychiatrists treat mental health, or has the Therapeutic Goods Administration jumped the gun?  

Join UNSW research fellow and psychiatrist Dr Adam Bayes, Professor Colleen Loo, and Emeritus Professor Wayne Hall as they unpack the stigma, the myths, the benefits, and the path forward in a conversation chaired by Norman Swan.

This event is presented by the UNSW Centre for Ideas, UNSW Medicine & Health and UNSW Science as a part of National Science Week.


The Science Theatre is located at UNSW Sydney's Kensington Campus. Please note this is a live event only, and will not be available via livestream. 


Wheelchair Access
The Science Theatre is located at UNSW Sydney's Kensington campus (highlighted red on this map). The closest accessible drop-off point to the Science Theatre is towards the rear of the building, with access via Gate 2, High Street. Vehicles can drop off patrons directly adjacent to the Business School west wing which is then a 200 metre walk approximately. More information on getting there can be found via our interactive accessibility map available here

Hearing Loop
The Science Theatre has hearing assistive technology available. Patrons wishing to utilise this service must collect a Roger™ inductive neck loop receiver from the venue staff, and this system can be used with a hearing aid or cochlear implant with a T-coil, or with headphones.

Auslan & Captioning 
Auslan interpreting services and/or live captioning can be provided for selected talks upon request.

To book and discuss access services, please call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485 or email


The Science Theatre is easily accessible via public transport and the closest light rail stop is UNSW Anzac Parade (L3 line). For more information please call the Transport Infoline on 131 500 or visit

Free parking is also available in the Barker St Car Park (Gate 14) from 5.30pm. For access to free parking, event patrons must park in the UNSW Permit Holder bays, available on all levels. The Barker St Car Park (Gate 14) parking station is located here. 

Paid casual and visitor parking is offered via the CellOPark App and ‘pay by plate meters’ in all other UNSW car parks. For more information head here



For all the other enquiries, please email or call the Centre for Ideas on 02 9065 0485.

The Centre for Ideas is happy to receive phone calls via the National Relay Service. TTY users, phone 133 677, then ask for 02 9065 0485. Speak and Listen users, phone 1300 555 727 then ask for 02 9065 0485. For more information on all other relay calls visit here.

Adam Bayes

Adam Bayes

Dr Adam Bayes is a psychiatrist who works as a clinician-scientist with a focus on mood disorders including depression and bipolar conditions. His research interests include diagnosis, classification and novel treatments for severe depression including ketamine and psychedelics. Bayes holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery (Hons), Bachelor of Advanced Science, Master of Psychiatry, and a PhD. He is a Fellow of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, is a senior research fellow and VMO psychiatrist at the Black Dog Institute and the Discipline of Psychiatry and Mental Health at UNSW Sydney.  

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall is an Emeritus Professor at the National Centre for Youth Substance Use Research at the University of Queensland and the Queensland Alliance for Environmental Health Sciences, and a UNSW Sydney alum. He has advised the World Health Organisation on the health effects of cannabis use; the effectiveness of drug substitution treatment; the contribution of illicit drug use to the global burden of disease; and the ethical implications of genetic and neuroscience research on addiction.   

Colleen Loo

Colleen Loo

Colleen Loo is a psychiatrist, Australian National Health and Medical Research Council Leadership Fellow and Professor of Psychiatry at the UNSW Sydney and the Black Dog Institute. She is an internationally recognised clinical expert and researcher in the fields of electroconvulsive therapy, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, transcranial Direct Current Stimulation and ketamine, and led the first Australian RCTs of these interventions in depression. Loo is active in ECT, Neurostimulation and novel treatments research, practice and policy, providing advice to Australian government health departments, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, and several international guidelines. She has published over 300 peer reviewed papers and has received competitive grant funding from the Australian NHMRC, MRFF and major overseas grant funding agencies and directs professional training courses in ECT, TMS, tDCS and ketamine.

Norman Swan

Norman Swan

Norman Swan hosts ABC RN's and co-hosts Coronacast, a podcast on the coronavirus. Norman is a reporter and commentator on the ABC's 7.30, Midday, News Breakfast and Four Corners and a guest host on the Health Report on RN Breakfast. He is a past Gold Walkley winner and has won other Walkleys including one in 2020. Norman has been awarded an AM, the medal of the Australian Academy of Science, a Fellowship of the Academy of Health and Medical Sciences and an honorary MD from the University of Sydney. His book, So You Think You Know What's Good For You? was a bestseller and his latest book So You Want To Live Younger Longer? has also been on the bestseller list. Norman trained in medicine and paediatrics in Aberdeen, London and Sydney before joining the ABC.

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