Festival of Change showcases big ideas for healthy, sustainable, resilient communities

Published:23 September 2020

Held online across 1 – 17 September 2020, the Festival of Change 2020 features nine free events open to anyone and everyone passionate about driving social change.

CQUniversity has held its biggest-ever Festival of Change, with online audiences tackling big issues and big opportunities for communities facing a range of social and economic challenges in the wake of COVID-19.

More than 600 people from around Australia registered to attend the annual celebration of social innovation, held across 1 – 17 September 2020.

The nine free events were open to anyone and everyone passionate about driving social change in their communities, and coordinator and CQUniversity Social Innovation Program Manager Ashley Clarke said the approach challenged attendees to think big.

“Gathering in a virtual room meant the Festival was accessible and participants could join a national conversation about designing better systems for our world,” she said.

“Audiences got to hear from social enterprises and innovative organisations who are making big differences around Australia, then join our weekly co-design workshops to start thinking about their own potential for impact.”

CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Nick Klomp moderated the opening event, the Generation COVID? youth panel featuring young people from around Australia.

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Other highlights across three big weeks included:

- The Rise of the Regions expert panel, featuring CQUniversity Professor of Regional Economic Development John Rolfe, tackling opportunities for regional Australia to lead a sustainable national recovery from COVID-19 impacts,

- For People and Planet changemaking stories, with social enterprise leaders Tanya O’Shea, founder of IMPACT Community Services Bundaberg, Elise Parups of Queensland Social Enterprise Council, and CQUni student and TECKnology Indigenous Corporation founder Leslie Lowe, and,

- Healthy and Connected expert panel, exploring how remote and marginalised regions can overcome barriers to heath care, education and employment opportunities, through stronger community networks.

Other participating experts and changemakers also represented: Queensland Youth Advisory Council, The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, Young Change Agents, The Next Economy, Smart Precinct NQ, Country University Centres, Western District Health Service, Metro South Health, Food Connect Foundation, The Big Issue and Foundation for Young Australians' YLab.

CQUniversity Director of Social Innovation Lara Carton said the Festival of Change kicked off an exciting time for changemaking at CQUniversity, and across its communities.

“In the next six months, CQUniversity is partnering with Queensland Social Enterprise Council to support social enterprise growth across Central Queensland, Far North Queensland and the Darling Downs, through the Reset and Recovery with Impact program, and also establishing a Central Highlands Social Enterprise Hub,” Ms Carton said.

“The Festival of Change has been a great opportunity to connect with those communities, and get the conversation started about where changemaking can have the biggest impact.”

The Festival of Change, held annually since 2018, is part of CQUniversity’s role as Australia’s only Changemaker University, accredited by global network for social innovation and impact Ashoka U.

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