In mid 2011 the AYAC conference brought together young people, youth led and youth sector organisations as well as academics and government officials to discuss and learn about issues and strategies on the theme Interrupting transmission: Youth, change, policy, and practice. Overall, 320 delegates from across all states and territories converged on Sydney for the first National youth conference in four years including representation from regional and remote areas.
This was the first national youth affairs conference to be held in over 4 years.
The key issues highlighted by the keynote speakers were around the need for a new narrative and value for young people and the youth sector as well as the importance of opening up opportunities to participate to a diverse group of young people. The conference included passionate debate and discussion around youth work professionalisation and code of ethics as well as emerging themes around the recognition and work of youth-led organisations, the use of technology to engage and empower young people and alternative models of engagement for marginalised young people in education and programs.
The reach and engagement of the conference was extended by lively Twitter discussions throughout the conference. On the first day there were over 1,200 tweets and the conference hashtag ‘#ayac2011’ was trending in both Melbourne and Sydney. Check out our newletter (30 June 2011) for @chrispytweets’ summary of trends and highlights of #ayac2011 at the conference.
You can view feedback from the conference here
To watch a video of attendees responses - click here
To see the full conference program and activities - click here (PDF - 6mb)
To read the peer-reviewed academic research papers presented at the conference click here (PDF 1.5mb)
Social media mastermind @chrispytweets analysed twitter generated data across the three days of the conference and composed for AYAC an article showcasing the results:
Highlights of Twiiter @# AYAC2011
It’s not often that you see high levels of engagement through social media at conferences due to the varying nature of audience participants, typically leaning towards an older generation. Stick several hundred young people / youth focused people in the Sydney Convention Centre however, and it’s a completely different story.
With in excess of 4,000 tweets using the #AYAC2011 hashtag across its three days, audience participation was evidently at a level driven by young people wanting to spread the word and ensure that their voices were heard.
One of the biggest messages that came out of the conference from young people is that the ‘advisory’ role isn’t enough. Providing advice based on circumstances presented can suit some participants in an organisation’s youth involvement model, but it certainly doesn’t meet the needs of all young people, or lead to the most successful innovations. The message was communicated loud and clear, ‘let us become more involved in the decision making and subsequent actions that follow’.
“@tiphinizle Young people aren’t stakeholders, we are partners”
“@dougsky ‘focus less on the youth advisory model’- @samahhadid ‘YES YES YES”
“@tiphinzle Young people are the agents of change... Youth panel @ #ayac2011”
Amongst the standout speakers receiving kudos on social media were Matthew Mitcham, Benson Saulo, Samah Hadid, and Jan Owen, who even had a #janowenforPM hashtag started in her honour following her keynote speech! Tweet trends indicated those who did not have the ‘one size fits all’ option to youth involvement would be positively acknowledged, but those who had presented themselves in a way that they personally couldn’t learn anymore were not placed in such a limelight.
“@AYAC_ maybe we should rename the debate to 'reclaim the space'? Audience on the edge of their seats listening to Jan Owen”
“@mischabee Thought leadership is what @JanOwenAM talking about! We hear you!”
“@AramBarra What we leave behind is not what we carve in stone but what we leave in others hearts quote @bensonsaulo” (one of the most re-tweeted tweets)
“@growans We need to redefine our understanding of YP- not many YP fit into the "hack/at-risk" binary @samahhadid #AYAC2011 kudos!”
@yacwa Listening to @matthew_mitcham speaking at AYAC conference - what an inspiring, young man - legend #ayac2011”
Post #AYAC2011, discussion about the conference certainly flowed onto different mediums and channels. Here is one example of multimedia from participant Hugh Stephens:
It didn’t matter if you were at the conference itself, or following the stream on twitter… you were engaged. #AYAC2011 has set precedence for social media involvement in conferences aimed at (or have an acknowledgeable audience of) young people. The voices of young people have been heard, and these thoughts are currently being collaborated for AYAC to help shape the future of youth involvement in Australia. The call for #AYAC2012 has been put out there, it’s now in your hands guys…
Say cheese portfolios!