Meet our Future Chasers

Australia Day provides us at Australia Unlimited with an opportunity to let people of all nations learn more about the positive contribution Australians, and an Australian education, makes to the global community.

To mark this year’s Australia Day, we’re asking everyone to cast their minds forward to a future shaped and led by the next generation.

Recent work by the Foundation of Young Australians (FYA) paints a very bright outlook in the hands of ’Gen Y’.

Jan Owen, CEO of FYA and recipient of the Order of Australia for services to children and young people, names their shared traits as optimism, determination and social and environmental awareness.

“These are people with absolute sense of purpose going after things they want to see changed in the world, and having this unwavering belief that their generation can do it,” she says.

Inspired by Owen’s work, Australia Unlimited is thrilled to profile the following 19 future leaders and decision-makers of courage, imagination and will.

Fifteen of these individuals are featured in Owen’s book Future Chasers, published in 2014 conjunction with FYA. While the others are not Australian, they’ve all spent time living and studying in Australia. Hailing from Malaysia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and India, these four young leaders are contributing locally and internationally, using Australian experiences and education to inform their own social impact and discovering a future of unlimited potential.

 

Together they are a diverse group who share much in common: they’re digitally-savvy, tertiary educated and have a strong sense of community. But most of all they have an uncompromising resolve to contribute in a meaningful way to the world, as well as the place they love to call home.

These are our future chasers.

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Aaron Tait
Class: society-style
Aaron Tait
Aaron Tait’s greatest asset is his resilience. Aaron served in Iraq just after 9/11. His wartime experiences and growing social conscience inspired him to co-found Spark* International to help finance social entrepreneurs in Kenya, South Africa and Papua New Guinea. Spark* is on a mission – and it’s huge.
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Alissa Holton
Class: society-style
Alissa Holton
Alissa Holton knew from a young age that the needs of the disabled were unmet. Determined to make a change, she co-founded s.p.a.c.e., a Brisbane-based community centre that hosts programs for people living with, or alongside, a disability. But s.p.a.c.e. is just one step for Alissa towards her ultimate goal.
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Benson Saulo
Class: culture-style
Benson Saulo
Benson Saulo is well on the way to helping achieve his vision for Australia: a nation proud of its Indigenous history and contribution to the broader Australian identity. Benson is passionate about the role young Indigenous Australians can play in their communities to lead positive change through education, entrepreneurship and strong connections to country. In fact, he’s taken his vision a step further.
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Chris Raine
Class: society-style
Chris Raine
Chris Raine partied away many of his younger years in a haze of drugs and alcohol. Six years ago he cleaned up his act and stopped drinking. He began posting observations of his newly sober world in his weekly blog, Hello Sunday Morning. Chris’ personal decision has had far-reaching effects.
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Elliot Costello
Class: society-style
Elliot Costello
From a young age, Elliot Costello saw his father, Tim Costello, Baptist minister, lawyer and current CEO of World Vision Australia, open their home to socially disadvantaged clients. Small wonder Elliot co-founded YGAP, a non-profit organisation that strives to end poverty through community engagement.
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Holly Ransom
Class: society-style
Holly Ransom
Holly Ransom pledged at age 10 to dedicate her life to those less fortunate. Since then she's passionately worked across the corporate, non-profit and government sectors worldwide to develop innovative, economically and commercially viable solutions to complex social and economic problems. An entrepreneur and intrapreneur, she has represented Australia at summits across the globe, garnering an international following along the way.
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James Reade
Class: environment-style
James Reade
James Reade began volunteering at age 13 in his hometown, Bendigo, Victoria, and was named 2006 Young Citizen of the Year. Having spent the past three years as a state political advisor, James is bringing his passions together in a start-up to help governments and businesses engage with young people.
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Lucinda Hartley
Class: design-style
Lucinda Hartley
Lucinda Hartley spent much of her early life travelling internationally due to her parents’ work. Inspired to make a difference, she spent two years working in the slums of South East Asia, learning the power of community. Co-founding non-profit consultancy CoDesign Studio, Lucinda is helping local communities implement fast, low-cost neighbourhood improvement projects.
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Marita Cheng
Class: technology-style
Marita Cheng
Marita Cheng’s mother insisted her children do volunteer work as a way of repaying Australia for the opportunities they enjoyed. In 2008, Marita established Robogals, an organisation that uses fun, educational robotics to interest schoolgirls in engineering and technology. Marita’s recent invention is her latest achievement.
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Michelle Law
Class: culture-style
Michelle Law
Michelle Law is an accomplished filmmaker, essayist, columnist and blogger. Having faced bullying and worked through her own health issues as a teenager, Michelle now uses her creativity to raise awareness on topics ranging from youth and mental health issues to female and cultural awareness.
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Nathan Murphy
Class: business-style
Nathan Murphy
Nathan Murphy has always had a unique approach to life. An upbringing in multicultural Sydney, dropping out of school, and living rough in Darwin all led to his strong desire to contribute to society. With a number of successful start-ups already acquired, Nathan’s creative entrepreneurial drive is making that happen.
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Nishan David
Class: business-style
Nishan David
Son of Sri Lankan migrant parents, Nishan David’s upbringing informed his desire to empower communities. This vision combined with a passion for innovative social enterprise led to the founding of ethical t-shirt label Bloodless. By partnering with social entrepreneurs in developing countries Nishan is ‘supercharging’ their ideas into reality.
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Samah Hadid
Class: society-style
Samah Hadid
Samah Hadid is a determined campaigner for the rights of women and a more equitable world. Proud to be defined by her Muslim heritage, Samah has dedicated most of her life to campaigning for human rights and social justice. A drive which makes her a force to be reckoned with.
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Viv Bejamin
Class: society-style
Viv Benjamin
Viv Benjamin believes history shapes us but we shape the future. Reading her background it’s clear where her fighting spirit, determination to right injustices and ambition come from. From fundraising as a child to organising acclaimed anti-poverty concerts, Viv is empowering millions of women to lift themselves out of poverty.
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Yassmin Abdel-Magied
Class: society-style
Yassmin Abdel-Magied
Yassmin Abdel-Magied is leading by example in her drive to encourage women into engineering and to broaden awareness of Australian Muslims. With a love of cars and motorsports and a passion for social outreach, Yassmin is enabling impassioned young people to have a voice and achieve social change.
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Balendran Kandeban
Class: culture-style
Balendran Kandeban
Balendran Kandeban greatest pleasures in hosting Sri Lanka’s cult TV show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, is seeing the money go towards the most deserving. He’s now taking the tools he gained studying in Australia to challenge the status quo, creating greater opportunities for others in the process.
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Red Hong Yi
Class: design-style
Red Hong Yi
Red Hong Yi’s twitter profile reads: ‘Artist + shy rebel. Likes to paint, but not with a paintbrush.’ The Malaysian-born, Australian educated, artist-architect looks for beauty in the mundane. She has a strong following on YouTube; her Jackie Chan portrait made from 64,000 chopsticks is a particular favourite.
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Ruchir Punjabi
Class: technology-style
Ruchir Punjabi
Ruchir Punjabi is happiest creating opportunities for those who don’t have them, believing in the kind of change that involves innovation and positively impacts millions of people. This is exactly what he hopes his digital agency Langoor, started whilst studying in Australia, is on its way to achieving.
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Yanti Turang
Class: society-style
Yanti Turang
Yanti Turang is the eternal optimist but only after surviving Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans did she decide to help others help themselves. Founding LearnToLive, a New Orleans-based humanitarian organisation, Yanti is helping improve the social health and quality of life of communities across the globe.
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