In early November I found myself jumping on a plane to Canberra to attend an un-conference. I really wasn’t sure what I had signed up for but was incredibly intrigued… what exactly is an un-conference?
Hosted by Junkee, it was defined as ‘200 of Australia’s best and brightest young minds’, taking over the entire QT Canberra to create ideas on how to shape Australia’s future… nothing like a big challenge to entice myself and 199 other young go-getters into this most epic of proportion conversation!
An un-conference as it turns out has no set agenda. As I mentioned I didn’t really know what to expect, I didn’t know anyone else going so I was excited and a little nervous to meet people from all walks of life and with some very impressive resumes.
On opening night everyone was given the opportunity to pitch, 60 seconds on their idea to change Australia. The enthusiasm in the crowd was contagious, everyone wanted their 60 seconds to spread their knowledge, over 100 people pitched an idea and it turned into one hell of an evening!
I hadn’t initially intended on pitching an idea but was inspired to have my one minute to share what I am passionate about. It seemed very clear from the get go that there weren’t many people from the sectors that I care deeply about, in this space eye health and disability. Both of which are definitely not sexy topics and that was something I really felt throughout.
Every single idea was incredible and worthy of discussion and I loved learning things from worlds I knew nothing about ranging from environmental sustainability to 3D printing to gender equality.
(Waiting patiently to pitch)
So for my pitch… I decided to bring together 2 themes that moulded in with the issue currently being faced by young Australians that most have no idea about. The prevalence of Type 2 diabetes which is now the leading cause of avoidable blindness in young Aussie’s- yep not a sexy topic at all!
However I was pleasantly surprised to have so many of the attendees come up and share their thoughts, ideas and experiences on the topic.
What I enjoyed most about Junket was that everyone was so open to learn, ask questions and grow their knowledge. In our own lives we tend to gravitate towards the things we know and so my only goal heading to Canberra was to immerse myself in everything I didn’t know. At times it was scary, it certainly left me feeling uneducated towards many topics and issues I had never really thought about but on the other hand so inspired and craving more and more information about the different areas.
Fortunately with 55 pitch sessions being turned into discussions there was plenty to choose from and often the hardest part was actually picking which session to attend given there were only 5 one hour slots with 11 discussions held every hour!
(So many ideas!)
Inter-twined with the pitch sessions were lots of other fun activities whether it be a Qantas 3D virtual reality experience, a human library or my personal favourite the Beyonce dance class, it was a jam packed few days that left me invigorated and re- confirmed the idealism- that one person really can make a difference in our world.
A big thank you to Junkee for the invitation and to the major sponsors of the event, without them this certainly would not have happened. Westpac, QT Canberra, Qantas, Telstra, Visit Canberra.
Photo credits- Junkee Media