2017 Australian Communities Forum Recap

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Last Friday, McCrindle and AlphaSys were proud to present the Australian Communities Forum (ACF) at Customs House in Sydney. The ACF featured 14 brilliant speakers and 4 jam-packed sessions. We began the day with tea and coffee on arrival before kicking off our first session, which focused on the research results from the Australian Communities Trends Report into Australia's not-for-profit sector. Before we launched into the findings we received a warm welcome from Councillor Jess Miller on behalf of our event sponsor, the City of Sydney.


Eliane Miles opened Session 1 with a snapshot of the key factors influencing Australian communities and some surprising findings from the just-completed Australian Communities Report. Eliane provided an overview of giving in Australia, indicating that 4 in 5 Australians give financially to charities / not-for-profits, the top 8 causes Australians are supporting and the 5 charity essentials.

Mark McCrindle continued the theme of presenting results by exploring some of the key insights from the 2016 Census results. Australia’s population is growing, ageing and changing. Mark also explored how not-for-profit organisations can respond to our changing nation.

Each of our delegates also received a copy of The Australian Communities Trends Infographic which contains the top line findings from the national study into Australian giving and how charities can engage.


After a networking break over morning tea Lalita Stables, head of strategic business at Google shared an engaging keynote presentation on strategy essentials that can be applied in local communities. Lalita spoke to leadership in an organisation, how Google have both a culture of innovation and information, and encouraged organisations to have a mission, transparency and a voice.

Our next keynote, Justin Yoon – founder and director at AlphaSys who was our event partner this year, delivered an engaging keynote address on how when building authentic communities, technology isn’t always the answer. Justin encouraged us to get ‘SLOSH-ed’ – or in other words, to ensure organisations Strategise, Listen, Orchestrate, Start simple and value Human experience.

Our final keynote was delivered by Jonnie Farrell, founder of start-up Adventure Squad and previously a product designer at Airtasker. Jonnie inspired and challenged us to think like a start-up and to trust our instincts, work hard and have a pure intent. From his experience in start-ups and entrepreneurism, Jonnie encouraged delegates to build, measure and learn.



In this stream, Richenda Vermeulen, CEO at ntegirty, began the session by challenging our audience with research-based insights on the four keys to achieving digital success. Ben Littlejohn from Act for Peace then spoke about promoting a start-up campaign using social and mainstream media, from Act for Peace’s Ration Challenge. Our final speaker for tis stream, Andrew Hill who is the community and fundraising director at The Salvation Army, shared how The Red Shield Appeal recently incorporated electronic giving into its appeal.


Graham Catt, CEO of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) began our second stream on community trends by sharing how the AVA uses environmental scanning to identify the trends taking place in the external environment and how to respond to them. Tony Holland, the CEO of OzHelp, then shared the inspiring story of how OzHelp’s tune-up program is reaching people where they live and work. Josh Crowther then concluded our second stream by sharing valuable insights from research conducted by Dunham+Company into donor trends and Australians giving behaviours.


Following afternoon tea and some great networking, we gathered back together to hear from our last two speakers, Andy Meier from Strategic Minds Communication and Sam RefShauge from batyr.

Andy Meier, director of Strategic Minds Communications kicked off our afternoon session by giving us some key insights into the power of video storytelling. Andy shared how a good story has a narrative, and that stories inspire us towards action.

Our last speaker of the day was Sam Refshauge, the CEO and executive director at batyr. Sam shared the inspiring story of how batyr came to be, and how to engage and communicate with Generation Z, we need to be innovative, create communities, encourage and empower, and utulise peer-to-peer interaction for this emerging generation.


We would like to thank all of our speakers and delegates for making the 2017 Australian Communities Forum a fantastic event. A big thank you to our primary sponsors Database Consultants Australia and the City of Sydney for your support in making this happen.

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