YFS2020 Program

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Welcome to the YFS2020 Program! With over 60 keynotes, presentations, workshops, case studies panels and performances, we cannot wait for you to join this historic event! 

We will be adding updates to the agenda as we confirm more speakers, facilitators and sessions. Some sessions may be subject to change. Young people will be involved in all aspects of the Summit Program. Please note that the agenda is best viewed on desktop.

Day 1 | Big Systems

10:00am – 11:00am

Opening Keynotes

We begin the Youth Futures Summit highlighting some of the biggest issues young people are facing now and in their futures.

Each keynote presenter will speaker on their topic for 15 minutes, painting the big picture and setting the scene for the week ahead.

1. No jobs on a dead planet

Coming Soon.

2. No one left behind

Sophie Johnston | National Youth Commission Australia

3. Nothing About Us, Without Us

Coming Soon.

4. The Forgotten generation and how to restore their hopes

Alison Pennington | Centre for Future Work

11:00am – 12:00pm

Breakout #1

Panel: Unpacking thoughts with Opening Keynotes

Unpack the challenges and ideas raised in the first morning keynotes, and join Sophie Johnston, Alison Pennington and more for a Q+A.

Panel: Youth Homelessness and Early School Leaving

Join Professor David Mackenzie (Upstream), Pam Baker (YFoundations) and Elvis Martin (Youth Development Australia) who will deliver three short presentations, followed by Q+A.

Panel: Shaping our future through social entrepreneurship

Hear from young people who are taking a lead on their own entrepreneurship education while making a difference to the things that they care about through social entrepreneurship.

Matt Pfahlert, CEO of ACRE will host a panel of rural and regional young people to discuss challenges and issues they are facing  and how enterprise learning can assist them in preparing for the future of work

More Sessions Coming Soon

1:00pm – 2:00pm



Econobabble and what the future holds for young people

Dr Richard Denniss | The Australia Institute

More Coming Soon.

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Breakout #2

Panel: Increasing Education and Employment for OoHC

Join Paul McDonald (Anglicare Vic), Steve Kinmond (ACWA), Tasha Reynolds (CREATE Foundation) and more as they critically discuss how to best support education and employment outcomes for young people in Out of Home Care (OoHC).


Join economist Saul Eslake, YOUNG Campaigns, Alison Pennington (Centre for Future Work), Shirely Jackson (Per Capita) and more in this in-depth session on forging an economic future where young people are valued and essential. 

Panel: Dealing with Australia's Racism Problem

Whether it’s at school or at work, young people throughout Australia experience racism on a daily basis. We need to confront this, and deal with Australia’s racism problem. Join Carmel Guerra OAM (CMY), Dr Berhan Ahmed (AAMEYS), Tim Lo Surdo (Democracy In Colour),  Hayley McQuire (NIYEC), and Omar Abdu, and learn from some of the leading experts in race politics in Australia.

Workshop: CV and Cover Letters

Today, Australia is facing an unprecedented economic crisis. The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been profound. Thousands of
people have lost their jobs and businesses have closed their doors. But we can help.

Jobs for Australia is a Not-For-Profit of Volunteers from the Talent Acquisition & Human Resources industry located across Australia that have been affected by COVID-19.

In this workshop, learn the ins and outs of building your resume and responding to selection criteria – so that you can stand out in your search for work.

Interactive: exploring the NYCA Interim Findings Report and National Plan

In this session, review the National Youth Commission Australia’s 2 year inquiry into youth employment and transitions. 

Learn about the inquiry findings, recommendations and deliver your feedback on the proposed National Plan.

More Sessions Coming Soon

Day 2 | Education

10:00am – 11:00am

Opening Keynotes

Day 2 kicks off with back to back keynotes from some of the leading pioneers in education in Australia. 

Each keynote presenter will speaker on their topic for 15 minutes,  followed by a Q+A with both of them. 

1. Pioneering education reform: What should we keep, change and create?

Prof. Pasi Sahlberg | UNSW Gonski Institute

2. An Education of our own design

Hayley McQuire | National Indigenous Youth Education Coalition (NIYEC)

11:00am – 12:00pm

Plenary Q+A

More information coming soon.

What does a new vision for education in Australia look like?

Prof. Julianne Moss | Deakin University –  Research for Educational Impact (REDI)

Dr. Jennifer Jackson | The Mitchell Institute

Ahelee Rahman | VicSRC


1:00pm – 2:00pm

Breakout #3

Panel: Career Education What should it look like?

For decades we have told young people the same advice: get good grades and go to university, and the jobs will come to you.

But how realistic is this? We know that thousands of young people are unemployed and underemployed. We know of those who do find work, many end up working in fields completely unrelated to their studies; and that work is often insecure and casual.

What do we need to change about career advice so that young people are equipped with the knowledge and skills to navigate a career of many different jobs and industries over their lifetime?

Join Kelly Fawcett (FYA), David Carney (CICA) and more for an exciting panel on the future of careers education.

Panel: Bridging the gap: Universities & the Job Market

With Associate Professor Dan Woodman (University of Melbourne) and Prof. David Adams (Pro-Vice Chancellor, University of Tasmania). 

More coming soon. 


Workshop: LGBTQIA+ Inclusive Spaces with Minus18

Join Minus18 – Australia’s Champions for LGBTQIA+ youth – in discussing key foundational strategies for creating inclusive spaces in schools, workplaces and community organisations alike.

Harnessing their signature empathy-based presentation style, Seb and Tessa will provide an LGBTQIA+ lens through which future change-makers can view their work and feel more confidence in their ability to foster inclusion.

In an accessible 60 minute format, receive an overview of:

  • Lived experience navigating spaces as young LGBTQIA+ person;
  • LGBTQIA+ discrimination experienced by today’s young people;
  • The importance and application of inclusive language; and
  • The opportunity to engage in live Q&A with Minus18’s experienced presenters.
Deep Dive: Is Online Learning Fair and Equitable?

With social distancing measures continuing to be enforced, school students are switching to online learning. Curricula is being made available through online platforms, teachers are contactable via email and live streaming services, and parents are playing critical roles in facilitating course work. These measures are necessary if students are to continue their education while governments manage the spread of COVID-19.

However, these new remote arrangements depend on the presumption that students can and will learn remotely and that their homes are productive and safe places to learn. Even though schools and governments have promised to loan laptops and mobile internet devices to students who need them, those who were already facing disadvantage at school are now at risk of far deeper, long-term inequality.

Join Rebekah Sarkoezy (ACCAN), Tasha Ritchie (CYDA), Nina Laita (VicSRC) and the Australian Education Union (AEU) for a lively conversation on accessible education in remote and online learning environments.


More Sessions Coming Soon

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Breakout #4

Panel: VET and TAFE Jobmaker or Heartbreaker?

With Maxine Sharkey (AEU) and Craig Robertson (TAFE Directors Australia) are joined by two TAFE students to explore the pitfalls of Australia’s TAFE system and what is needed to future-proof VET and TAFE.

More coming soon.



Workshop: How to nail the job interview

Today, Australia is facing an unprecedented economic crisis. The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic has been profound. Thousands of
people have lost their jobs and businesses have closed their doors. But we can help.

Jobs for Australia is a Not-For-Profit of Volunteers from the Talent Acquisition & Human Resources industry located across Australia that have been affected by COVID-19.

In this workshop, learn how to nail the job interview – whether it’s over the phone, via video or in person.

Deep Dive: Beyond the Classroom and the Boardroom – the global impact of sexual violence on education and employment

Andrea Pino-Silva (The Hunting Ground) and Sharna Bremner (End Rape on Campus) deep-dive into the critical issue of harassment that young people face in education and at work, and how this can scar young people’s transitions into secure and meaningful employment. 

More Sessions Coming Soon

Day 3 | Employment

10:00am – 11:00am

Breakout #5

Deep Dive: MPs in the Hot Seat

Youth. Climate. Jobs. COVID-19 recovery. If you could ask our politicians anything, what would it be?

Yasmin Poole joins Anthony Albanese and Amanda Rishworth MP to debate all things young people and the future including where governments fail to include young people in policy and decision making, how to change this, and what they plan to do about Australia’s youth employment crisis.

Workshop: Your Rights At Work

Let’s face it, we don’t really get much training on our rights in the workforce when we’re at school, uni or TAFE. It can be difficult to know what rights you have in the workplace, especially as a young worker.

It’s hard to know everything when it comes to superannuation, paying tax, what a fair wage is, and what to do if your boss is underpaying you or if you’re feeling unsafe at work.

Join this workshop with the Young Workers Centre and learn about your rights at work, plus where you can turn to if something isn’t quite right in the workplace. 

Panel: Creating meaningful employment and education opportunities for young people with disability

With Mary Sayers (CYDA), Rick Kane (Disability Employment Australia), Tadc (YDAS) and more coming soon.

More Sessions Coming Soon

11:00am – 12:00pm


There is no doubt that artificial intelligence and automation will profoundly impact the future of work, and already we are seeing these changes across industries.

After diving straight into workshops and breakout sessions, we’ll bring everyone back together for a session that will highlight the economic, social and ethical dilemmas of digital and technological progress. 


AI, Robots and Automation: Will there be jobs for any of us?

Yuma Soerianto | Made By Yuma

Macinley Butson | Inventor

Rita Arrigo | Microsoft

Prof. Sean Ghallager | Centre for the New Workforce, Swinburne University of Technology

1:00pm – 2:00pm

Breakout #6

Panel: Employment Services - More than Ticking Boxes?

With Sally Sinclair (CEO of NESA) and Debra Cerasa (CEO of Jobs Australia), Finabr Piper and more coming soon.

Panel: Employers for the future of work

What role do employers have to play in supporting young people’s transitions into the workforce? Join Peter Strong (COSBOA), Rose Guamann (Bar Manager), Sophie Johnston (NYCA)  and more to discuss the responsibilities and opportunities employers have in the future of work and youth employment.

Interactive: how creative work creates change

Radical ideas expressed through art, creativity, performance and more have shaped social progress throughout human history. 

Creative work undoubtedly has the ability to shift perspectives, birth movements, and lead to real impact and change. 

Join Vanamali (Mali) Hermans along with three young finalists from the Youth Futures Creative Competition as they present their creative work exploring “barriers to employment” and critically discuss the role of creativity in social change. 

More Sessions Coming Soon
Workshop: YOU(th) Colour the Future

This is a collaborative and interactive session run by Henrietta and Yatha who are two Youth Ambassadors from Multicultural Youth Affairs Network NSW. The session will be a space where young Black, indigenous, refugee and migrant young people can come together to discuss and unpack their experiences of racism, prejudice, inequality or injustice within the workforce, and discuss our way forward. This session also aims to prompt participants to connect and generate new ideas about how we can create a fairer and more inclusive future for black, indigenous, refugee, and migrant young people.

TLDR: If you attend this session, expect: 

  • A safe space for young people with indigenous, black, refugee and migrant backgrounds 
  • Discussion around the systemic inequalities faced related to employment 
  • Brainstorming around a better way forward 
  • Lots of engagement – talking in small and large groups, with a little bit of typing 
  • To connect with people 
  • Having fun!!! 
WORKSHOP: What is your personal brand?

Applying for work is no longer just about sending in resumes and responding to selection criteria. 

In 2020, most people have social media and it’s easy to find out information about a person’s lifestyle, behaviours, politics and more through a quick Google or Facebook search. 

So how can you best curate your online presence to ensure future employers are getting the introduction you want them to see. 

Join this workshop with Jobs for Australia, a not-for-profit of HR and Talent Acquisition professionals dedicated to supporting people back into work. 

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Highlight: The Arts


Afternoon session featuring live music, dance, poetry and painting.

1. Loki Liddle – Digi Youth Arts

2. Students Against Racism – “All Mixed Up” Slam Poetry Performance

The Arts and Entertainment industries were the first to feel the devastating impacts of job losses and industry shut down due to COVID-19.

Many people have pointed out the significant role the arts and entertainment industries play not only as employers of many young people, but as a support for creative expression and mental health.

While many of us have spent isolation consuming entertainment in books, music, films and more – many entertainers are struggling.

This session showcases live performances from across the country, followed by a critical discussion about the value creative industries have in our society.



Day 4 | Transitions

10:00am – 11:00am

Storytime: Tansitions

Kicking off Day 4, we will get some deep insight into real life transitions that young people have been through. 

This session includes transition stories that are all uniquely different to show that not all young people’s transitions will be the same. 

1. Living In Between

A performance from a group of young people from refugee and migrant background on coming to Australia | Students Against Racism 

2. Designing My Meaningful Career

Jahin Tanvir presents his story as a young person navigating through the traditional expectations of ‘one job for life’ and instead creating a multifaceted career that matters.


11:00am – 12:00pm

Breakout #7

Panel: Safe, Secure & Affordable Housing for young people

Young people need safe, secure and affordable housing. So what’s going wrong and how do we fix it? With Joel Dignam (Better Renting), Rebecca Mullins (My Foundations Youth Housing), Pete Zwiers (Kids Under Cover) and more coming soon.

Deep Dive: 20 years of research into transitions , what next?

What can we learn from 20 years of research into youth transitions? Professor Hernan Cuervo with guests presents a deep dive into the University of Melbourne’s Youth Research Center ‘Life Patterns’ project.

Panel: Mental health must come first

Half of all mental health conditions in adulthood emerge by age 14, and three quarters by 24. Young people are disproportionately affected by the economic impact of the pandemic and the mental health issues that come alongside it.

With what is going on in the world today, plus pre-existing pressures of school, getting a job, feeling a sense of belonging, climate change, social media and more, we can feel anxious about the future, our jobs, our education and our health. 

Join Jason Trethowan (CEO Headspace), Sarah Bostock (Orygen), Minus18 and more as they uncover why mental health must come first in creating better outcomes for young people. 

Interactive: How to build young people’s power to win good jobs and a safe climate!

Join Cat Nadel, a lead campaigner from Tomorrow Movement, for an interactive lesson in how young people can work together to win tangible improvements to our lives and transformative changes for our society. 

Cat will introduce you to key campaigning concepts such as community organising, building people power and putting pressure on decision makers. You will have a chance to put your skills into action as well as learn more about Tomorrow Movement’s campaigns to win good jobs, great public services and a safe climate for all.

More Sessions Coming Soon

1:00pm – 2:00pm

Plenary Q+A


No one left behind: How do we transition all young people intro meaningful employment?

Jan Owen AM | Learning Creates Australia

Dr. Hernan Cuervo | Youth Research Centre, Melbourne University

Maxine Sharkey | Australian Education Union

More coming soon.

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Breakout #8

Panel: Young people and the media

what While media and social media can be a power for good by highlighting issues, raising awareness and facilitating dialogue, often young people are painted poorly by mainstream media and are also trolled, harassed and abused in the comments section on social media.

Caspar Roxburgh (host of Binge Thinking Podcast) joins Will Connolly (Egg Boy) and Varsha Yajman (School Strike for Climate) to explore the good and the bad of media and social media, the impact on youth mental health, and more. 


Panel: Communities and Place-based Approaches

With Peter Kenyon (Bank of Ideas), Trent McCarthy (VicLLENS) and more coming soon.

Deep Dive: Empowering young workers during the pandemic and bey0nd

The impact of COVID-19 on a generation of young people can’t be underestimated. 

They’re a segment of the workforce already experiencing high unemployment, and poor access to rights and safety and they will be disproportionately dealing with the impacts of this crisis for decades to come. 

It’s never been more important that young workers come together to campaign, have their voices heard and join together in union. And that’s exactly what they’re doing. 

Join ACTU’s President, Michele O’Neil and Young Worker’s Centre Director Felicity Sowerbutts as they share stories of how young workers can speak up, stick together and win.


More Sessions Coming Soon

Day 5 | Where to next?

10:00am – 11:00am

Breakout #9

Deep Dive: Do we need a universal basic income and how practical is it?

Join this debate on whether we need a Universal Basic Income, hosted by Andrew Tangas with Emma Dawson (Per Capita), Dr Elise Klein (Crawford School of Public Policy, ANU), Prof. Greg Marston (Basic Income Guarantee Australia, UQ) and Prof. Gini Foster (School of Economics, UNSW). 

Workshop: How to Create a Career that matters

When it comes to what you want to do with your future, you ALWAYS have a choice.

  • The path that’s been set out for you, that you follow
  • The path that’s UNWRITTEN, that you create for yourself  

Many of us feel so much pressure to make the ‘right’ decision when we graduate, which is nearly impossible to do given how uncertain the future feels. It’s not easy to let go of what you’ve been told you should do with your life after school, taking the unwritten option is daunting and full of unknowns.

But here’s the thing, choosing to create your own future career is also the path that will fulfil you the most, because you get to fill it with the things that matter to you most, that light you up and that give you purpose.

In this workshop facilitated by Elizabeth Knight, founder of Purposeful, we’ll be help you to make the brave choice to re-imagine what’s possible for your future, and to choose the ‘unwritten’ path. 

What you’ll learn: 

  • Understand why you don’t have to choose a career but can in fact create one yourself
  • Why taking control of your future by creating your own career pathway is a really secure and sustainable career choice in today’s world
  • How to find meaning and hope for your future in face of overwhelming uncertainty
  • How to re-imagine what’s possible for your future and create a career pathway you care about
More Sessions Coming Soon

11:00am – 12:00pm

Plenary Q+A

What better way to spend our last YFS2020 day then celebrating Wear It Purple Day. 

This panel will be filled with fabulous and fierce members of the LGBTQIA+ community discussing how we can create a society that is more inclusive of the people who make it. 

Wear It Purple Day: Imagining a Queer Inclusive Future

Gidget Smith | Wear It Purple


More coming soon.

1:00pm – 2:00pm

Breakout #10

Panel: Is Climate Change the turning point for jobs and justice?

The climate crisis is not new. For years we have been warned by the world’s scientists of the detrimental impacts human industrial life is having on the planet.

But within this global challenge lies opportunity. As they say, necessity is the mother of invention.

Join Ricky Archer (NAILSM), the Australian Youth Climate Coalition (AYCC) and more to explore what opportunities the climate crisis has created for us in terms of renewable industry, green jobs, indigenous land rights, management and justice, and more.

Panel: Redefining success and Disrupting the Power of ATAR

Join Adrian Picolli (UNSW Gonski Institute), Kalina Page (VicSRC) and more in this session dedicated to re-imagining the way we measure success in schools. 

More information coming soon.

Panel: Is entrepreneurship the answer to youth employment?

We often hear the statistic that 50% of the world’s future jobs haven’t been created yet. So how on earth are educators and trainers supposed to know what skills and capabilities will be needed for these jobs?

This narrative is then paired with the claim that young people need enterprise skills, should look to create their own jobs, and use their natural agility and flexibility to make up for the insecure labour market.

So how true is this? Join this session to hear and learn directly from young social entrepreneurs including Morgan Hipworth (Bistro Morgan) and more about the ins and outs of creating your own work, the challenges that come with this, and what needs to change.

Workshop: Working and leading with young people

What are the different ways to work and lead with young people? Join this workshop if you want to gain an understanding of why it’s essential to have young people front and centre in policy and program design, and how you can do this.

With Kieu Gavin (Oaktree), Tadc (YDAS), Gina Chinnery (Orygen), Lee Striker (YOUNG Campaigns) and more. 

More Sessions Coming Soon

2:00pm – 3:00pm

Plenary Workshop

After an intense week of hard conversations, problem solving and design thinking, we will come together for a workshop to springboard us into action. 

This session will show us how to harness our momentum and make change happen. 

The Art and Science of Persuasion

Sara El-Amine | Change.org; Obama for America

Ever had to persuade someone to do something–anything–and found yourself talking circles around them to no avail? Do you end up in conversations with voters, supporters, employers, family members, teachers, and classmates where you have limited time and data with which to change hearts and minds? Join Sara El-Amine, one of the United States’ leading social change makers, for a deep dive and interactive workshop on the art and science of persuasion, with a specific focus on “the two minute rule” of delivery and the “IRS” rule of structure. You’ll leave ready to rule the world (or just rule over your prickly ideological opponents).

the youth futures summit is presented by

The Youth Futures Summit acknowledges that the work undertaken to organise this event is on the stolen land of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We acknowledge that sovereignty was never ceded and wish to pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.