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Conference overview: Social Good Summit Australia 2016

Conference overview: Social Good Summit Australia 2016

Article · By Jarkko Oksanen on October 16, 2016

The Social Good Summit Australia was a thought provoking event with leaders from non-profits, social enterprises and corporates coming together. I was left with an inspired feeling, but lacking a bit on clarity.

I found the event after googling and trying to find events around Melbourne that would fit our interests on social entrepreneurship, global goals and general good-doing.

#2030NOWAU, asks the question, “How Will We Create a Better World by 2030?”

I was intrigued and wanted to see how the speakers, and the event holders tackle that very hard question.

The big brother of this event social good summit that was held in September 18-19 this year seemed like a great event as well, and the videos that emerged from that event intrigued me.

I decided to attend, booked a flights and accommodation to Sydney on the dates. I started following the speakers and the event organisers on social media.

Premises, organisation and catering

The event was held at the Sydney Business School which is a great venue for small conferences like this one. I have previously been there attending an event by Rare Birds, a conference aimed at women entrepreneurs. I knew the venue and knew that the venue would not disappoint.

I came in the event at 9.50am as the introduction was about to take place at 10am. I was positively surprised about having barista coffee available during most of the event. Immediately lined up and ordered my double-shot Bonsoy piccolo. Coffee was served by Beancraft, a sponsor, and was great.

The host of the event Andrew Klein was a great humorous mc, and made the event feel friendly from the get-go.

Unfortunately a lack of lunch and afterwards mingling left me a bit disappointed. What I love about conferences is talking to other people, but this time there was only a quick chance for that. Lack of lunch and snacks left me and other people no option but to wonder out to eat and miss a speaker.

Speakers and content

Generally speakers were very interesting, and some stories were very touching. All speakers were experienced professionals in their own areas of business and I gained a lot of insight. These are on the top of my day day after the event.

Reverend Graham Long AM was a great surprise. With the title reverend, I was expecting something completely different. Funny, thought provoking and passionate talk about social isolation and our flawed culture.

'Be necessary, significant but not central' - Graham Long

Simon Rowes's plan to help homeless people, and also their companion dogs by providing moving shelters was a great story and a great idea.

Unfortunately against the theme a lot of what was spoken about was about local issues instead of the global goals.

Five to six speakers mentioned and spoke in depth about the aboriginals the culture, and related issues. I think this was a bit off topic. An important issue, but off topic.

I was expecting macro, not micro.

However on the other hand another micro idea with a macro impact was the Food Latter idea talked about by Kelly McJannet. Their goal is to build sustainable food through innovation. They have built a type of greenhouse that will grow crops in isolated and inhospitable parts of the world. I love the approach of giving the tools for people for sustainability instead of feeding them once. Long term sustainability, not short-term happiness for marketing is what excites me.

Natalie Isaacs gave a nice talk about leading the 1million women movement and getting people to talk about important issues.

She talks about thinking about small actions in our lives to do a big macro impact. On this point I howerver disagree. For me this is like making a business plan that states ‘if only 1 million people by my product for 1$ then I’ll be rich’. I’d love the conversation of saving electricity to go to installing electricity saving systems into houses, instead of relying on people changing their habits, which is one of the hardest things  in the world. It doesn’t matter in the macro if a 1000 of us who care change our habits. It matters if we find a way to save money for people through electricity saving technology. Instead of changing habit, lets create innovation that does that for the masses. Change via innovation, not via habits. Habits die hard.

At the end of the conference Natalie showed us their new anthem. A great piece of work, that might actually make a few people change their habits. Loved the passion and the enthusiasm.


I left with a general inspired feeling, but also slightly confused. The theme was to answer how will we create a better world by 2030?.

Some of the answers were:

  • Banks are slowly starting to look at impact
  • Social enterprise is in its infancy, but a possible solution
  • Making non-profit models sustainable
  • Lets build sustainable food models
  • Lets partner up for success

However I was left hoping for a clear call to action. What do I do now? There was a lot of students in the audience that could have been directed into straight action.

My alternative ending to the conference.

Lets encourage and push traditional business into thinking social. Business is what leads the world, not goverments. Governments are lobbied by the corporations. Corporations are led by profits. Profits come from sales to us, the people. Lets build great competetive social products to change the world, and create an impact. Create social products, and buy social products. (And now I am sounding like Natalie :) )

Thanks to the organisers for creating a thought provoking, inspirational and entertaining event.

Article by:

Jarkko Oksanen
on October 16, 2016

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