Australia’s 2020 Future – the Futurist’s report

As preparations continue for the Prime Minister Rudd’s ‘1000 heads’ ideas summit in Canberra in April, a group of Australia’s leading futurists are gathering in Melbourne this weekend for the ‘Australia 2020 Futurists Summit’. The futurists attending the summit work across Australia, in corporate, not for profit and Government agencies in a variety of fields and will look at each of the key areas the Prime minister has flagged as critical themes for development.

Given the gathering will be of a ‘Tell of Futurists’, you’d expect that the group would be ahead of the main game, which of course it will be by about 6 weeks. The aim of the 2020 Futures Summit is to pre-respond to the larger gathering in April and to produce a report that will have quite a pragmatic flavour to it, whilst allowing for deeper consideration of the challenges that lie ahead.

Strategic Futurist Marcus Barber commends the Prime Minister on the initiative whilst cautioning the difficulties of taking too ‘thin’ an approach to a serious consideration of the future: “The willingness to gather a thousand people in Canberra to generate ideas for each themes is a very interesting approach and takes much from the ex British Prime Minister Blair’s forums in the UK. Two of the biggest challenges for the upcoming gathering in Canberra will centre around an effective facilitation process which might require some of the Zing-type data software for it to work quickly at gathering ideas effectively, and for there to be enough depth of discussion and peeling back the layers to ensure any idea has an element of pragmatic value, no matter how left field it might seem initially. In fact the bigger challenge might be in too few ‘out there ideas’ being generated if the process encourages group think. That’d be a difficult hurdle given the number of people and the limited time involved”

The 2020 Futures Summit report will be made available to a select number of media who will be embargoed from releasing it until after the PM’s summit has been completed. “Allowing for the individual perspectives being brought to the tables in Canberra, it is important for people attending the PM’s summit to be as ‘clean from recently influenced bias’ as possible. We are already seeing a flood of activity of press releases and discussion papers pouring into mainstream media which I suspect is in no small part an attempt to shape the type of thinking of the 1000 people who make their way to Canberra” says Marcus Barber

“We want the quality of the depth of thinking from our Summit to be seen as additional to the thinking that emerges in Canberra in April, not an attempt to shape it before hand. The one big advantage we have as futurists is an ability to work with multiple perspectives simultaneously and to look for confirming, disconfirming and alternative perspectives, a luxury that time constraints will probably not be afforded to the Canberra meeting”

Media inquiries regarding the 2020 Futurists Report can be directed to Rebecca Camilleri at August on 9445 0326

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