Backing young Australians in 2016

Backing young Australians in 2016

On Purpose.

It’s a highlight of my year – seventy Year 10, 11 and 12 students graduating another year in FYA’s immersive IMPACT program. IMPACT develops the leadership and enterprise skills of indigenous students across the Northern Territory and the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

After 3 years together the Year 12 students described, with tears flowing, the bond they had developed with their peers and the pride they had for their community and culture. They shared their plans and aspirations. Many highlights involved contribution – working together delivering the youth program at Garma and volunteering on the school holiday program at Children’s Ground in Jabiru.

Finding Purpose.

Last week we farewelled our inaugural FYA Immerse intern. It was phenomenal hearing and reading what his peers said about this young man. How much he had accomplished, how much he had grown professionally, how many experiences they had all shared and how much learning had been gained. How much ‘becoming’ had taken place in a few short years.

Our Immerse intern shared how the IMPACT students had been key teachers, an integral part of his learning at FYA.

The transformation over 3 years crept up on them. On him. On all of us.

It’s often said you are the standard of the people you are surrounded by.

I realised afterwards our intern was an archetype of the world the majority of young Australians are living in. A high school student following the mantra he had been given at school about ‘uni next’. And after several attempts still couldn’t work out what on earth to study.

Playing footy to pass the time, belong, do the Aussie mates thing. Prompted by his mother to come to FYA after getting involved in volunteering. Then housesharing in Melbourne, working part time pulling beers, interning, studying and eventually finding purpose working with boys and young men to support healthy transitions to manhood.

Just this week I heard a compelling story from one of our partner Universities where students were offered an all expenses paid trip to Paris to work and study over the summer or a self-funded trip to India to work in community with local students. There were no takers for Paris but India was immediately oversubscribed.

You can’t buy Purpose.

Although the experiences of growth, connection and learning are gained across all our innovative initiatives at FYA, the opportunities for young Australians still remain vastly different depending on everything from postcode to parental education and aspirations to a responsive, immersive life of learning.

Generations of present and future young Australians urgently need a new set of skills and capabilities to deal with the changing world of work and looming social, economic and sustainability challenges.

Our Purpose.

FYA turned our minds to these in our 2016 – 2021 strategy launched across the country in March this year.

Our two years of research on the New Work Order has created a platform to drive a national conversation about automation, globalisation new skills and capabilities reaching 11.6 million people.

As well as research, FYA co-designs experiments and incubates responses to our research. This takes the form of innovative initiatives and programs to showcase different ways of developing the enterprising skills and capabilities of young people.

Some of our 2016 highlights include: $20 Boss, our youth entrepreneurship program undertaken by 10,000 high school students; Young Social Pioneers, which backed 60 young social entrepreneurs; Unleashed Festival, the largest gathering of young changemakers in Australia; our first round recruitment of 44 YLab Associates and the launch of #fyahub, Australia’s first free co-working space for young social entrepreneurs, innovators, doers and makers.

It is increasingly evident that we all require new mindsets to prepare for the future. However, heading into virtual reality, descending into existential despair or abandoning this planet for another isn’t what we mean by ‘future proofing’ current and future generations of children and young people.

The fact is young people have ample ideas for here, now, next. We have seen through our work in YLab, the youth led design and learning enterprise FYA launched in 2016. Since then our YLab Associates have worked on democracy projects with Parliaments, tech businesses with young mothers for the Department of Employment, youth engagement solutions at a local level with Councils, and much more.

Our belief is that we can equip, prepare and inspire young people to not only navigate, but help rethink the future, now.

Clarity of Purpose.


Jan Owen AM
CEO, The Foundation for Young Australians


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