Jess Tovey, Marc Fennell, Nakkiah Lui And Courtney Act To Be Among 200 Delegates At Junkee’s Youth Conference JUNKET

It takes place from November 1-3. It's going to be huge.

Over the last couple of weeks, a small crew of people have been charged with an almost-impossible task: whittling down an enormous list of the brightest, most innovative and most inspirational young people around Australia, to a group of the top 200.

If you ever want to feel endlessly hopeful about Australia’s future (and endlessly insubstantial by comparison), this is absolutely the way to do it.

On November 1, the 200 finalists we have handpicked — chosen through recommendations from our diverse programming committee, and public submissions from folks who had something to add — will converge upon QT Canberra for Junkee’s very first JUNKET: an unconference that’s all about connecting different people so they can share ideas and expertise, solve problems, and start conversations about Australia’s future.

And we can finally announce some of the people who are coming.

Who Actually Is Coming?

A lot of thought and time goes into programming an event like this. We wanted people from all around Australia; we wanted a spectrum of cultural and religious backgrounds, and a diverse range of gender and health identities; we wanted people from different ideologies, and from different industries — from the arts and entertainment, to science and tech; from political activism to manufacturing to urban and economic planning; from the fashion industry to the sporting world.

The aim of the conference is to connect people who have bright ideas with others who can help make them happen. We’re going to help start conversations — but it’s up to the delegates to continue them.

The programming of this year’s event was led by Vivid Ideas and TEDxSydney curator Jess Scully, and a committee (most of whom will be delegates at this event) including mechanical engineer, social commentator and founder of Youth Without Borders, Yassmin Abdel Magied; Paralympian and world champion Dylan Alcott (he’s just won the US Open wheelchair quad singles); writer and social commentator Michelle Law; Australian youth representative to the UN, Shea Spierings (unfortunately unable to make it to Junket); playwright, writer and actor Nakkiah Lui (Black Comedy); Archer Magazine’s founding editor and publisher, Amy Middleton; and TEDxSydney Youth co-curator Andy Huang.

Also in attendance at Junket will be actress Jess Tovey (Wonderland, Underbelly, Paper Giants — and Belle from Home & Away!); Independent Member for Sydney (and marriage equality/anti-lockout campaigner) Alex Greenwich; model and entrepreneur Ollie Henderson (founder of activist art project House Of Riot), Who Gives A Crap and Shebeen founder Simon Griffiths; drag performer Shane Jenek (COURTNEY ACT from RuPaul’s Drag Race, you guys!); journalist and film critic Marc Fennell (aka triple j’s That Movie Guy); author and spoken word poet Omar Musa (Here Come The Dogs); environmental activist Anna Rose (the founder of Australian Youth Climate Coalition, and the national manager of Earth Hour Australia); Walkley-nominated storyteller and documentarian Patrick Abboud (who launched and presents on SBS2’s The Feed); pro-skateboarder and TV persona Mikey Mendoza; Future Super founder (and former director of GetUp!) Simon Sheikh; chef, DJ, author, promoter and Heaps Decent founder Andrew Levins; Gayby Baby director Maya Newell — and many other bright leaders, experts and innovators in their respective fields.

What Will They Be Talking About?

When we called for public submissions to Junket, we asked people to summarise a problem they had identified with Australia’s present, or an idea they had for Australia’s future — and why they were the right person to bring it to the table.

The themes brought up during that process were as diverse as the people we’ve selected, but all were tied by a common thread: they’re all key concerns and interests for young people in Australia.

Here are just some of them:

  • Secondary and tertiary education;
  • Housing affordability;
  • Fast fashion;
  • The environment;
  • Aged care and carers;
  • Disability access and representation;
  • The economy;
  • Arts funding;
  • Privacy in the digital age;
  • LGBTQIA issues;
  • The future of gaming;
  • Food sustainability;
  • Indigenous issues and education;
  • Asylum seekers;
  • Start-ups, the internet, and the changing job market;
  • Internships;
  • Feminism and gender inequality;
  • STEM communications;
  • Urban planning;
  • Drug legalisation;
  • Mental health;

The topics of the sessions themselves will be more specific — and while they may not lead to actual solutions, they will be jumping-off points for different people from different backgrounds and industries to start and continue the right conversations.

If we missed an issue or topic, never fear: we’re asking people to submit their own ideas or themes on social media, using the #junket hashtag. Get ye to a Twitter!

How Will This Whole Thing Work?

Despite the misleading headline, Junket is actually an “unconference”, which means there will be no set agenda or program decided in advance. It also means there will be no audience.

In the lead-up, the 200 delegates will be encouraged to pitch a specific idea, problem or issue they want to talk about, and the types of people they need to make the conversation a good one; at the event, the other delegates will decide on which sessions they want to form the agenda. 

The Junket program itself will be action-packed, with delegates choosing between up to ten streams happening simultaneously — making up a total of over 60 sessions throughout the day, with everyone encouraged to contribute to the conversation.

Junkee will have a team of writers, videographers and social media pros there to report on the conversations as they happen — and we’ve invited a few other media to cover proceedings too. This is just the beginning, though: the most important part of Junket happens in its aftermath.

Keep the conversation going — or just keep up to date with it — using the #junket hashtag.

Find out more about Junket here.