Conference "inspo" for future changemakers

Future changemakers at the Social Impact in the Regions conference
Future changemakers at the Social Impact in the Regions conference

There was plenty to be inspired about at the recent Social Impact in the Regions conference held in Coffs Harbour.  With a program of speakers designed to help attendees accelerate and amplify their impact in their community, it was no wonder that so many changemakers chose to take part.

VFFF is all about ‘Backing Young People’ and we were particularly excited to see some future changemakers in the crowd, as part of the conference’s youth engagement program. The brainchild of chief changemaker, the inspiring Kerry Grace, CEO of the Evolve Network and conference convenor, the youth engagement program invited Year 10 and 11 students from high schools in Kempsey and Macksville to experience the conference. To ensure these young attendees made the most of the opportunity, Kerry asked the fabulous Taz Devadass and Emilee Rigby of Futures Isle to shape the conference experience for the students.

Taz and Em are facilitators at Heywire, the ABC’s annual regional youth project, so Kerry knew that the students would be in safe hands and walk away from the experience energised and hungry to learn more about the social impact sector.

As Kerry explains, “We really wanted to make the conference accessible for young people who otherwise have very limited opportunities to learn about the social impact sector. With the highly skilled support of Taz and Em, we were able to gently weave an experience for the students which not only taught them about the sector but also how to participate in a conference. We know the students who attended were very excited about the information they have gathered and are keen to get more involved in their community.”

According to Taz and Em, regional communities need to hear the perspectives of more young people like these students.

 “We were blown away by these young people – they were mature, engaged and had some really meaningful insights on what they would like to impact in their regions. Often young people get a bad rap and people assume they are disengaged, lazy and disinterested. Conversations with the young people who attended Social Impact in the Regions showed just how incorrect those assumptions are.”


Wearing numerous hats, Taz and Em have the opportunity to speak with young people across regional Australia and there are some dominant themes that come through.


Regional young people are deeply aware of how unequal the distribution of opportunities are with their metropolitan peers (from sporting opportunities right through to the subjects available at school). There is also a real concern for the natural environment and making sure that action is taken towards mitigating climate change.”


The young students who attended the conference are already leaders within their communities and will continue to have more impact and influence in the future. The fresh perspectives these future changemakers brought to the conference, served as a reminder of the value of including the voice of young people in the conversation.

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