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Let the young leaders of our community be your guide


5 April 2020 at 11:00 am
Dean Cohen
This is a time to listen to our community’s young leaders and to support and enable them to lead, writes Dean Cohen.


Dean Cohen | 5 April 2020 at 11:00 am


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Let the young leaders of our community be your guide
5 April 2020 at 11:00 am

This is a time to listen to our community’s young leaders and to support and enable them to lead, writes Dean Cohen.

As we settle into the new world order, we’re seeing incredible stories of the triumph of the human spirit. Across Australia, we are seeing young leaders thriving, pivoting and innovating to help others and to change the world for the better. The young leaders who are emerging through these challenging times are those who are driving full throttle, whose quick thinking and relentless optimism are solving the immediate problems facing our neighbours and our world. 

This week, Flying Fox hosted a zoom panel discussion where the panellists shared success stories and discussed the endless opportunities to innovate in the current climate. Belinda Morrissey, the CEO of the English Family Foundation, spoke about the idea that the current systems are broken and that we have a window of opportunity to fix them. Natalie Rathner of Generation Pledge discussed the incredible sense of togetherness the world is feeling right now and the sense of collective responsibility being fostered around the world. Simon Faivel of Social Ventures Australia celebrated the adaptability and resilience of humanity and expressed his view that opportunities and success stories are everywhere because of these qualities.

The panellists spent an hour shining a light on the opportunities that exist right now to build a world that will be better when all this is over. The panellists presented to a group of young adult leaders who are poised to not just inherit the world but who are passionate about shaping it. 

I am the CEO of Flying Fox and I am privileged to lead a team whose average age is no older than 21 years old. This group of passionate young leaders provides social opportunities to young people with a disability. Many of our participants are individuals with complex disabilities who are socially isolated at the best of times. The social isolation many of our participants and their families are now experiencing is overwhelming and debilitating; they are alone in this world, left without support and connection.

But our participants and their families are surrounded by Flying Fox’s team of young adults, whose endless passion and creativity has quickly led to new ideas. Over the last week our organisation has seen 200 young people participate in our new online program, Quaranstream. Fitness Fridays, Sing-A-Long Sundays and Mindful Mondays have already ensured a continued social connection for some of our community’s most isolated. This is one of many grassroots ideas which will be implemented by some of our community’s young leaders to address the urgent challenges of the world.

There are countless stories of immediate action being taken and these are times for creativity and for immediate, urgent solutions to pressing problems. We all know those in urgent need and we must all pull up our socks and do what we can to help. If you aren’t sure how, let the young leaders of our community be your guide. 

At the same time there are the beginnings of long-term conversations and the development of big picture innovations. Immediate problem solving and short-term thinking is vital in this climate, but the leaders who spend this time on long-term problem solving will change the world forever. 

We have a unique opportunity to stop and to analyse the world around us. On a micro, personal level, we can reflect on the way we live our lives and the contributions we make to society. On a macro level, we can reflect on the way of the world in its entirety and explore our role in shaping the future.

We can spend this time of introspection, deconstructing our lives and the world with the intent to rethink and redesign. For when we return to normalcy, we must be better versions of ourselves and the world must be better for this period of disruption and devastation. There must be lessons from this chapter that we learn as individuals and as a society. These lessons must result in deep and long-lasting change.

This is a time for optimism. This is a time to listen to our community’s young leaders and to support and enable them to lead.  

About the author: Dean Cohen is the CEO of Flying Fox, an organisation which provides social opportunities to people with a disability. Dean is passionate about youth engagement and the disability sector.


Dean Cohen  |  @ProBonoNews

Dean Cohen is the CEO of Flying Fox.

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