Exploring the Future of Leadership

13 – 24 May 2024


Online using Zoom

In 2024, Communities in Control goes online, bringing community sector leaders, board members, staff and volunteers together for web-based gatherings characterised by all the inspiration and provocation that have always been the hallmarks of the Melbourne conference.

Communities in Control will take the form of two seasons of events – in autumn and spring – fronted by speakers from Australia and the UK who will consider what the future of community sector leadership must look like in an age of artificial intelligence, uncertainty and disinformation.

The conference is an invitation to those in the sector to lift their gaze from the daily grind and take in the big picture.

Join us at Communities in Control to hear the latest community sector research and developments, be challenged to think outside your comfort zone, and reaffirm your commitment to – and enthusiasm for – the work you do.

In a time of uncertainty, the future can seem scary.

But organisations who don’t peek into the future and prepare for what is to come will inevitably be left behind.

The community sector needs to lift its gaze from the daily grind and assemble for what’s coming next. As we charge into the future, how can leaders prepare themselves to lead?

The Communities in Control autumn season will present a range of leaders from the community sector and beyond to discuss the future of leadership. We’ll consider the way we work and live, how we might think differently to avoid burnout, what Gen Z looks like in the workforce (and how we can work with them – and they with us – to achieve the best results), and how we can break out of the echo chamber and spread our message far and wide.

The leaders of tomorrow embrace the future with confidence. They anticipate what lies ahead and stand ready to face it head-on.

Conference Tickets

Attend all six sessions


Online attendance for 1 person only, no split tickets please. All sessions are recorded and available to watch on-demand for one week post live event. All ticket holders will also gain access to the Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration.

Book for a single session


Online attendance for 1 person only. All sessions are recorded and available to watch on-demand for one week post live event. All ticket holders will also gain access to the Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration.

Event Schedule

04:00pm – 05:00pm (AEST)

Why young people are the leaders of today, not tomorrow

If you're trying to predict the future, who better to turn to for counsel than Australia's young people?

The power of youth is clear: their unique open-mindedness and energy for change means that nothing is off the table in their pursuit of innovation.

Yet this power is often ignored. Young people are left to shout from the sidelines, with social media and protests their only way of being heard. In the workplace, rigid hierarchies constrain young people from challenging the status quo.

Learn from Gen Z writer and speaker Yasmin Poole, the youngest person recognised in the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence 2019 list, about how we can collectively bridge the generational divide.

Yasmin will explore why young people are necessary to future-proof the world, how to transition young people from apathy to agency, and how institutions can meaningfully include youth in decision-making.

03:30pm – 04:30pm (AEST)

The way we work: Embracing your limitations as a path to productivity and peace of mind

The average human lifespan is absurdly, outrageously, insultingly brief: if you live to 80, you have about 4000 weeks on earth. How should we use them best?

Of course, nobody needs telling that there isn't enough time. We're obsessed by our lengthening to-do lists, our overfilled inboxes, the struggle against distraction, and the sense that our attention spans are shrivelling. Yet we rarely make the conscious connection that these problems only trouble us in the first place thanks to the ultimate time-management problem: the challenge of how best to use our four thousand weeks.

In this keynote, Oliver Burkeman sets out to realign our relationship with time – and in doing so, to liberate us from its grasp.

01:00pm – 02:00pm (AEST)

The new definition of high performance at work

As our world of work becomes more complex and interconnected, the traditional leadership playbook for fostering high performance is no longer sufficient.

Leaders are recognising that the challenges teams, organisations and communities face today are increasingly adaptive in nature. They’re often hard to define, and they require experimentation and the involvement of teams and those an organisation serves to find a path through. Nowhere is this more true than in the community sector.

Join Eleanor Brown, the leader of McKinsey & Company’s social impact practice for Australia and New Zealand, as she explores what leaders can do to build and sustain a culture of high performance across their teams and organisations to thrive in the face of adaptive challenges.

01:00pm – 02:00pm (AEST)

Why haha moments are aha! moments: Laughter, insight, and innovation

Today’s leaders are faced with two simultaneous pressures: the need to innovate in the face of an uncertain future, and the need to maintain the wellbeing of their staff.

Fostering a culture of innovation means requiring your staff to work in a high-energy and sometimes pressured environment, so how can you be sure they also have time and space to relax and care for themselves?

Creativity expert Aden Date says these two imperatives don’t need to be mutually exclusive. In this presentation, he’ll explore how a radical, person-centred vision for innovation can not only ease the burden on staff but also leave your organisation in the best position to shape its future.

06:00pm – 07:00pm (AEST)

Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration

The Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration was first delivered in 2011 and continues today.

Every year at the Communities in Control conference, a different community leader is invited to speak at length on a topic which is important to Australian society. Each speaker brings their unique perspective and passion.

In 2024, the Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration will be delivered by Tanya Plibersek.

All ticket holders to another session at this conference will receive a complimentary link to watch the Joan Kirner Social Justice Oration live.

01:00pm – 02:00pm (AEST)

Communicating for impact: The power of curiosity

Community sector workers are passionate about the work they do, and they understand every aspect of the issues they’re trying to address, inside and out.

Knowing an issue like the back of your hand is one thing, but are you able to effectively communicate that issue to the wider public, who you may need to win over to help your fight?

Shifting conversations from closed communities into the public arena is paramount if you want to make widespread change. How do you communicate in a way that maximises engagement and impact?

Dr Michelle Dickinson MNZM has years of experience communicating scientific research outside the academic community. At Communities in Control, Dr Dickinson will discuss the importance of inspiring and fostering curiosity to cut through the noise and demonstrate why the work you do is so important.

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