Festival of Change youth voices get Impact Boom podcast boost

Published:04 November 2020

Panellists for the Festival of Change launch event were (from top left) Maya James, Santiago Mills, Chiamaka Ibeme, Dominic McCarthy, Diya John and Kai Graz.

CQUniversity's third annual Festival of Change is reaching new audiences, thanks to a podcast partnership with Impact Boom.

The three week celebration of social innovation was held in September 2020, and key sessions are being shared via the prominent impact-led organisation.

The first Festival of Change episode of the Impact Boom podcast showcases the Youth Panel that tackled the theme Generation COVID?

Moderated by CQUniversity Vice-Chancellor Professor Nick Klomp, the session from Tuesday 1 September heard from six young people from across Australia about study, jobs and career aspirations, and how COVID-19 was affecting their plans.

From Cairns, Wuthathi Aboriginal and Kulkalgul Torres Strait Islander man Santiago Mills said combining career and study has been a challenge this year, as work for contractors slowed down due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“It makes you more resilient, but I also realise that I’m lucky – in a lot of places, the opportunities aren’t there, and it’s so easy for young Indigenous youth to lose their jobs and not be supported to have a career,” he said.

“Things are definitely tougher - COVID has taken away opportunities such as jobs, training, capacity to make money, security, and being able to practice cultural things.”

“Youth have got to be part of the discussions around the modelling of the rebuilding of the economy because of devastating consequences COVID is having on our future.”

Santiago said the need for Indigenous autonomy in managing communities was also highlighted in the pandemic.

“There’s been a huge setback for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are already disadvantaged and suffering inequality – resources should be in place for us to manage our own affairs, particularly at a time when it could be life and death decision-making for our people.”

Santiago is studying a Bachelor of Construction Management with CQUniversity, and said he had chosen his career path with a goal of improving infrastructure for Torres Strait Islander communities.

Other participants were CQU students Chiamaka Imebe (Master of Information Technology, Melbourne) and Dominic McCarthy (Bachelor of Business Management, Mackay), Melbourne high school student  Maya James, Melbourne University Finance and Economics student Diya John, and Rockhampton year 12 student Kai Graz.

Professor Klomp said he was impressed by the positivity and determination of the participants.

“There is reason for optimism, and I’m sure we will emerge from COVID-19 – but it will take a lot of clear and creative work from our young people, and this panel certainly demonstrated the changemaker resilience to do it,” Prof Klomp said.

Panel sessions discussing Sustainable Regional Development and Healthy and Connected Communities will be featured on Impact Boom in the coming weeks.

CQUniversity has recently collaborated with Impact Boom to offer iActivate – a self-paced, ultra-flexible and affordable online short course, to guide aspiring and early-stage social entrepreneurs from idea to impact.

Enrolment is open now, and students can build skills, reputation and reach in the social enterprise sector. For more information visit