The NSW YouthSpeak Forum 2016 occurred on the 12th of August attended by an enthusiastic crowd of 70 individuals, curious as to how they could create purposeful action within their lives and the communities around them. It was an afternoon of engagement and collaboration between delegates and professionals, which would hopefully inspire the current “Generation of Purpose” to find their destiny, their purpose.
"The best way to predict the future is to create it."
The forum kickstarted with an opening keynote by Change Strategist Anne-Marie Elias who, through sharing her passions and her personal journey, served as a point of enlightenment and encouragement for youths to disrupt the status quo, and co-design with the community.
The day ensued with the delegates breaking off into three discussion rooms; Sustainability, Digital Landscape and Cultural Intelligence where the session aimed to inform the panelist of business professionals of the youth opinion on the topic of interest, as well as to promote inter-generational collaboration and dialogue as to what youths can do today to shape the world they want to see in the future.
Phillip - Sustainability
“A general conceptualisation of sustainability was first established amongst the panelists. The discussion went forward to discuss why Australian society is not focused on creating sustainable practices, whether it be in business, or within our everyday lives. Our society leans towards short term gains over long term benefits, and as such, Australia ranks as one of the lowest countries in environmental sustainability. For a first world country this is a genuine concern. Major businesses in Australia are motivated purely by the large immediate dividends through consumer spending or mining activities. If our economy continues to spare such little concern over sustainability, the country will suffer greater consequences in the future...What can we do? We need to shift the mindset in our youth to acknowledge and understand that sustainability is a moral and ethical consideration that affects their lives and future generations. It is only after improving common understanding that purposeful and tangible actions can be implemented to tackle this issue at large”
“Is it possible to create a universal model for sustainability? Yes, despite it applying so differently to so many industries, if we can create a model simply designed with the view of the level of consumption and reproduction in mind, we can apply it to several industries.”
“I came into YouthSpeak not expecting much however the opportunity to network really changed the entire experience. I didn’t expect to be inspired by the event but I gained nothing but inspiration from the panelists.” (Delegate testimonial)
Sally - Cultural Intelligence
“Rising levels of multiculturalism bring with it the necessity for the effective integration of various cultures when they are within close proximity to one another, highlighting the importance and the need for the development of cultural intelligence within our society. The discussion room revolving around the topic of Cultural Intelligence offered the attending delegates and speakers an opportunity to discuss the stage of development at which cultural intelligence had reached in the globe. Australia is considered to be among those countries with higher levels of multiculturalism, and yet, from our discussion we came to an understanding that cultural intelligence is yet to have reached a satisfactory level of reach within the Australian community.”
Jason - Digital Landscape:
“With a buzz towards business, I’m constantly looking for opportunities and open to learning about the trends of society. To see the panelists and delegates discuss this new digital age we're in was incredibly fascinating. The use and growth of technology in environments such as health, education, business, and media were discussed and an overarching trend was depicted by the panelists. They came to show us that moving forward from where we are now, the outlook of the digital landscape will heavily rely on cloud and augmented reality based systems in all environments."
Wenkai - Digital Landscape:
“Never had I saw myself as much of a tech person. Surrounded by digital media, I had always taken it all for granted and hardly gave any thought about where all this was heading and what it all meant to me. Being a facilitator at the Digital Landscape session opened my eyes to a new frontier full of challenges and opportunities. It was great seeing the discussion among the panelists and delegates, and some of the questions really got me thinking. Although I might not be doing a degree in IT or Computer Science, I was deeply inspired by what the digital world has to offer. The take-away message for me was that in order not be washed out by the wave of digital and technological developments, you need to learn to surf and ride the wave.”
After a much needed afternoon break complemented by the wonderful catering service provided by Activate UTS, Mehrdad Baghai, past director of CSIRO, opened the second half the forum with a fitting keynote about his personal journey and involvement in High Resolves, a national program which seeks to empower young individuals to become the change agents of their society.
This was followed by a third and final discussion room session where panelists and delegates were seated for the last time to co-create solutions towards making a real change in the issues raised in the previous breakout sessions within the next few months or years.
Sally - Cultural Intelligence
“...delegates were allocated into groups in order to brainstorm and develop potential ideas for addressing the need regarding the awareness of cultural intelligence across people of all ethnicities.”
Phillip - Sustainability
“...each panelist acted as coaches to the attendees building on top off their passions or goals...One group mentioned about utilising the power of media influence to building awareness about sustainability. Another group discussed from an engineering perspective to further push for the use of renewable energy sources in Australia.”
Jason - Digital Landscape
“...The true challenge here was understanding what actions were immediately necessary. A delegate inquired about the necessity of learning how to code to thrive in the competitive job market which was answered by a panelist who stated that although coding is important, it is not necessary to learn how to code, but rather, have an appreciation and understanding of the need of coding in tomorrow's world”
The end of the forum saw the much-anticipated launch of the #futuregoals campaign, an initiative that provides a platform on which youths can take purposeful action and collectively donate 130 000 hours of their time towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Although the forum had come to an end, it had also marked the start of something beautiful. The ubiquity of the energy and motivation that radiated from these exuberant young individuals was contagious; the passion they demonstrated in their desire to discover their purpose and make a positive impact on the world had left an enduring legacy.
Time to do something good.
Time to do something crazy.
We would like to thank our sponsors Activate UTS, NoteMaker, CubicPromote, and the University of Sydney Business School for their kind sponsorship and support of this generation of young leaders.