Check out our inspiring line up of speakers for our upcoming 2017 Next Generation Youth Forum.

Keynote speakers

Jason Ball

Jason Ball is the 2017 Young Australian of the Year for Victoria, best known as the pioneering LGBTI advocate who in 2012 became the first male Aussie Rules footballer at any level of the game to publicly come out as gay in the national media. Jason used this platform to launch a campaign to challenge homophobia in sport and drive cultural change within the AFL.

Since taking that stand, Jason has become a national figurehead on combating homophobia in sport and highlighting the damaging impact of discrimination on the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBTI community. His story was the inspiration behind the AFL's world-first 'Pride Game' played between St Kilda and Sydney in the 2016 Premiership Season. In his role as an ambassador for beyondblue and the Safe Schools Coalition he has shared his story with thousands of people in schools, workplaces and sporting clubs across the country.

Jason will also be facilitating interactive workshops.

My Story Speaker

Benson Saulo

Benson Saulo brings insightful and impactful experience that he has developed throughout his working life from across corporate, not-for-profit and government sectors. In 2011, Benson was appointed the Australian Youth Representative to the United Nations in which he undertook a national engagement tour to gain a deeper understanding of issues impacting Australian youth. Benson then represented Australian youth at the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly as an accredited member of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Benson became the founding director of the National Indigenous Youth Leadership Academy (NIYLA), which engages young Indigenous Australians to develop and drive youth-led social action campaigns. In 2013 – 14, NIYLA participants developed and launched ten youth-led social action campaigns focusing on suicide prevention, climate change, mental health and welcoming refugee and asylum seekers. Benson was selected to participate in the U.S. State Department’s International Leaders Program that enabled him to engage First Nation’s groups to explore leadership, economic development and cultural opportunities.

Benson writes a blog on change, leadership and impact, and hosts a web series called Now. Here. This. in which he interviews thinkers, doers and creators on faith, purpose and meaning.

In 2014, Benson was a finalist for Young Australian of the Year, and the Human Rights Medal.


Mitch McPherson – SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY

Mitch McPherson is the 2017 Young Australian of the Year for Tasmania. Few people have the drive and dedication of Mitch McPherson. When his younger brother Ty took his own life in 2013, Mitch, a glazier by trade, turned the devastating loss into the successful suicide prevention charity SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY.

Mitch’s vision is that SPEAK UP! Stay ChatTY will become a national charity, with a focus on delivering programs to schools around Australia to increase awareness and remove the stigma surrounding mental health.

In his workshop Mitch will lead students in designing solutions to mental health challenges in schools for those who want to create real action and see actual outcomes.

Taj Pabari and Shannon Flemming – Fiftysix Creations

"From suspended schoolboy to educational pioneer. Taj Pabari is living proof that anyone with determination and passion can change the world."

Taj Pabari is a seventeen-year-old inventor, social entrepreneur and educational pioneer passionate about inspiring children discover and embrace the world of creativity through technology and innovation. Taj was the Winner of The Australian Young Innovator of the Year for 2014, and more recently the Queensland winner of Young Australian of the year.

Taj has always been captivated by the world of business. From informally selling items during his free time and lunch breaks, he made his official entrepreneurial debut at the age of eleven, when he founded his first business, an electronic blogging site for children, by children. 300 articles later, the site was sold and was an inspiration behind starting his next venture.

In late 2014, Taj founded a social enterprise called, Fiftysix Creations, a build-it-yourself tablet and creativity kit for kids. As easy as a puzzle, as fun as a computer game.

Shannon Fleming is an educator, public speaker and facilitator working alongside Taj. She has a strong passion for encouraging young people to turn their ideas into a reality. She enjoys travelling, fitness and spending time with friends.

Taj and Shannon will help students to ignite the creative spark regardless of age, demographic or knowledge base and have designed a workshop to encourage students to ignite their inner ideas by presenting on innovative and social change ideas.

Benson Saulo - Values in Action

Following on from Benson’s My Story, he will run an interactive workshop around values. Values are universal and timeless but how often do we take the time to identify which values drive our decisions or how they inform the issues we care about? The Values in Action workshop seeks to identify core personal values, form language around these values and enable the individual to actively put their values into action in their life.

Nic and Lucas – Orange Sky Laundry

Best mates, Nic and Lucas were named the 2016 Young Australians of the Year in recognition for their outstanding efforts in establishing Orange Sky Laundry, which helps the homeless clean their clothes.

Since 2014, this world first idea has rapidly expanded into a fleet of vans across Australia which is run by over 270 volunteers who service over 36 locations and wash over 350 loads each week.

A catalyst for bringing people of all walks of life together, Orange Sky facilitates countless hours of conversations each week. Nic and Lucas have found a way to treat others the way they want to be treated by restoring respect, raising health standards and reducing the strain on resources.

Renee Anschau - Project Futures

Partnership Manager, PROJECT FUTURES

Finding purpose through active participation

Renee Anschau is the Partnership Manager for PROJECT FUTURES, an organisation that connects people to the issue of human trafficking and slavery by creating meaningful experiences that raise funds, educate and empower the next generation to take action.

In this workshop, Renee will educate you about the confronting reality of human trafficking, how it relates to you and how you, as emerging leaders, have the power to influence your future employers to give and to act.

PROJECT FUTURES has been an outlet for young people to use their time, talents and expertise to give back, find purpose and leverage their social calendar, networks and profession for good. Renee will share the story of why PROJECT FUTURES started, how it grew so successfully amongst a young professional community and how they have continued to evolve their relationships with the corporate world - specifically around ethical sourcing.