Rebuilding Civil Society | Ted O'Brien | TEDxNoosa

Rebuilding Civil Society | Ted O'Brien | TEDxNoosa



have you ever had one of those moments in life that takes you by surprise a setback and you find yourself asking yourself that that really big hairy question so what do I do now you ever had that I have 18 months ago I sat on Kings Beach pondering that very question as some of you may know I was the I was the poor bloke who got beaten by Clive Palmer at the last election and and you know I I had never been bitten by a dinosaur before I tell you it does hurt but I don't say that to scare you I really don't because since then no one has seen that dinosaur around this local area since you know as I as i sat there on the beach and I was pondering my own life and what to do my head was was clouded with all of these social issues that had consumed me throughout the course of of a political campaign and to give you some examples so you know what I'm talking about we have about nearly two and a half million Australians living below the poverty line we have about 40,000 substantiated cases of child abuse every year a hundred thousand people homeless around two and a half thousand people every year committing suicide many of these people are young people young people who already face enormous challenges around mental health illicit drugs and alcohol and we have almost now about 300,000 young people 300,000 who are unemployed and as I sat there on the beach that day that that was the issue that just I couldn't shake it was that youth unemployment because I always saw it as less than us – not so much a statistic it was more it's like as a proxy for all of these other issues facing young people sapping them of hope and opportunity and by the way it didn't it didn't escape me the the irony of my situation I mean there I was sitting on a beach I didn't have a job myself and I was wondering how to solve unemployment I mean seriously a bit sick in the head or something but work that one out you see that the problem is though I knew that thanks to my own background I'd be okay I'd find work and it was I was okay but whose responsibility was it to look after the thousands of young unemployed people on the coast looking for a job they just couldn't find one do we look to government do we look to the marketplace over recent decades we've become so overly reliant on both we've looked at government and big business the marketplace to solve our biggest social problems and you know what that's probably all well and good when they're flush with cash when their balance sheets are looking healthy but nothing lasts forever and surely the global financial crisis and it's aftermath taught us at least that and over the same period of time where we've been overly overly reliant on them we've also neglected a third sector of our society that which we refer to often as civil society sometimes nowadays we just use the expression or the community sector but civil society has been eroding family units have been breaking down not strengthening people's spirituality has been waning not enriching volunteers have been falling short of demand not exceeding it and Trust trust in our public institutions that's been dissipating not building and so whose responsibility was it as I sat on the beach thinking about youth unemployment as far as I was concerned it was mine it was mine as much as it was anybody's but in wanting to do something about it I wanted to do it in a different way in a way that was positive and not negative in a way that would accentuate a solution rather than the problem in a way that would empower young people to unleash their own genius and not be forced to conform to the conventions of older generations and my idea was a really really simple one I wanted to explore youth entrepreneurship as a solution to youth unemployment and thus I launched something called generation innovation whose purpose really is to unleash the innovation of young people and I can't tell you how excited I am today actually to be here because only last week we concluded what we called the GI challenge which was a challenge of youth entrepreneurship for 15 to 25 year-olds here on the Sunshine Coast you see young people who want to set up their own business they lack three things they lack experience they lack a network and they lack money so we wrapped those three things around gi participants and I tell you what they're brilliant some of them are straight-a students some kids at risk some out of school and out of work but I tell you what with a background that I have internationally with some of the world's largest businesses I kid you the genius and the talent and the insight that comes from these young local people is as best as good as I've seen around the world because we've Unleashed their genius we've wrapped around them the things that they currently do not have and as of last week we now have three ventures about to launch in the marketplace a a food retail concept swift smoothies a social enterprise called coy crook and a technology startup called holographic as today entrepreneurship as a solution to unemployment now the GI challenge beyond being an initiative with that objective in mind was actually a lot more than that it was in fact a pilot and continues to be for rebuilding civil society because it's weak today civil society people are falling through the cracks what generation innovation the GI challenge did was it civil civil society shouldn't just be restored like it was back in the in the 50s but we need to rebuild it for the future something that's fit not for our grandparents but for our grandchildren and that means as a not-for-profit local small initiative we needed to be mindful of the future trends that are gonna shape our future rebuilding civil society means accounting for the information age which means the GI challenge we had to be strategic and highly collaborative and we did that by having about 50 local organizations from business community and academia coming together we had over a hundred volunteers and well over a thousand of locals from the sunny coast community who either provided input or donated micro-financing through to these ventures the digital revolution is also impacting us now and into the future and so for gi for our challenge our head office was our website that's where we enroll participants answer questions that's where we showcase pitching videos of young people that's where we run crowdfunding campaigns and online voting systems our meeting places feedback that's where ideas are shared feedback is given in documents a transfer transferred over and lastly uncertainty now this is the new normal as some of you know as volatile as it's being of late around the world and even here locally our lives for the last few years volatility is here to stay and so for our little not-for-profit a core capability that we seek to build is resilience and beyond that economic independence and so as much as our underlying mission is a social one not not one dollar not one cent has come from government for the GI challenge now it's one thing to look at this and to talk about a small local initiative but it's quite another to think about how we can do that on a grander scale because therein lies the real challenge of rebuilding civil society I'm talking here about a degree of collaboration that has never been seen before I'm talking about community groups and individuals leveraging technology people who and groups that currently don't even use it leveraging I'm talking about organizations being prepared to wean themselves off government funding re-engineering their business models and revisiting the very meaning of volunteerism these are big things big asks in fact they require a cultural shift and the only thing the only thing that has ever ever ever changed culture is leadership now there are leaders out there who have the capacity to lead but they be Mon Society and don't do anything about it there are leaders out there who do have a social conscience but they look to government to solve it my call to action goes to different leaders leaders who have the capacity to lead but also they assume the responsibility to do so whether they're in the home in the churches in the community groups through our politics or the economy civil society rests on your shoulders let's work together and rebuild it thank you very much

2 thoughts on “Rebuilding Civil Society | Ted O'Brien | TEDxNoosa

  1. Nobody ever said government can solve all our problems. Government is a part of civil society. Citizens need to work together with government to protect our communities from the ravages of capitalism. Corporations have become more powerful than elected officials.

  2. Very true, we whine too much on the problems of unemployment and forget to create employment ourselves as young people. Ted, bring this to Namibia.

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