National Summit ‘Creating Australia 2040 – Education & Employability’

What is the Society we want to be in 2040 and how do we get there?

After three years of disruption and unpredictable devastation, the time has come for us to explore and develop a holistic vision and roadmap of what Australia could be in 2040 – a resilient, fair and prosperous society that embraces the needs of both its peoples and their lands.


However, it seems that none of our wicked problems can be resolved independently of the others.

Bringing together a broad-based coalition of influential thought leaders in a cross-sectoral collaborative partnership, our ‘Creating Australia 2040 – Education & Employability’ National Summit is the first of a series of events that will explore the key issues that require questioning, re-imagining and progressing towards the Society we want to be.

How can we find or create the leaders and professionals who we are relying on to successfully get us to 2040?  Do we need more emphasis on educating young people about collaborative problem solving, democracy and real citizenship?  How can we identify practical, inclusive, evidenced-based steps to address the education and employability challenges of the next two decades?

KAs the unifying alliance of professional organisations we will collaborate with thought leaders to explore these questions and seize the opportunities to create the Society we want to be.

One of the Summits’ main objectives is the development of an integrated ‘Set of Principles’ that embody our collective commitment and responsibility in delivering on the Australia 2040 vision.

Our invitation-only ‘Creating Australia 2040 – Education and Employability‘ National Summit on 4 August 2022 will bring together a broad-based coalition of influential thought leaders to develop a holistic vision and roadmap for a fair, prosperous and enterprising Australia 2040.  Acting purposefully for the common good, we will work collaboratively and consultatively to mould bold and transformative long-term strategies.

The inaugural National Virtual Summit on 4 August 2022 will provide an overarching lens of Education and Employability, intended to focus leaders of education and industry to explore the issues we will face in the next two decades and to develop the education and employability pillars that will lay the foundation for the society we want to be in 2040. 

Full Program Announced!

We are delighted to announce that the program for the Summit has been confirmed, with the opening keynote by distinguished Professor Emeritus Julianne Schultz AM FAHA and our Chief Futurist, Dr Simon Eassom.

Professor Julianne Schultz  AM FAHA
Dr Simon Eassom

Julianne’s opening keynote will explore the ‘Idea of Australia’ challenging our notions of what it means to be Australian and asks timely and urgent questions about our national identity. This will be followed by Simon’s thought-provoking presentation on the future of education and employability, by unpacking what the future of work and the future of learning will mean to professionals.

Download the National Summit’s Program here.

Summit’s Education and Industry Panels

The big issues that vex our progress towards a brighter future are inexorably interrelated: climate action; reconciliation with our First Nations People; sustainable and inclusive economic recovery and growth; educational equity; national health and wellbeing; gender equality and industry reform are just a few of those issues. The identification of these issues as sustainable development goals is not new, nor is our consideration of them. What is new is the confluence, intensity and acceleration of these threats, that makes continuing inaction and fragmentation untenable.

Our panel of education and industry leaders will discuss, debate, dissect and engage in meaningful discourse on all these issues and more.

Further details to come on the Education and Industry panels. But for now, make sure you mark 4 August 2022 in your calendars.

ACoP appoints Chief Futurist

ACoP is delighted to welcome Dr Simon Eassom as our inaugural Chief Futurist for the Professions.

Since 2017, we have been actively working on being the ‘thought leaders in all things professional’, spanning from creating guidelines for national higher education sector on teaching, learning, assessment, placements, and mobility during the pandemic to the appointment of Australia’s first Chief Professionalist in 2021 and our ongoing ‘Australia 2040’ agenda.

At the core of these initiatives is an intrinsic need to capture a stream of forward-looking ideas and visions, enveloped in thought-provoking and future-state scenarios.

ACoP is ideally positioned to provide not only the specific insight into the changes taking place within the professions but also an impartial analysis of the issues facing humanity and the possible directions that resolution of those issues might take. These include implications for the future of work, the future of learning, the future of cities, the future of nationhood and beyond.

Dr Simon Eassom

With that as the backdrop, ACoP is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Simon Eassom as our inaugural Chief Futurist.  In this role, Simon will develop and accelerate ACoP’s presence and value in this area by initiating a series of roundtables and workshops on specific ‘futurology’ scenarios; developing materials and presentations that could be used by ACoP members for their own understanding of the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other challenges facing humanity; and importantly assisting in the advocacy of ACoP as the leading voice in presenting objective assessment of the issues facing the professions, governments and society overall.

As ACoP President Klaus Veil says, “Simon Eassom’s appointment will strengthen our presence inside and outside the professions as an important forward-looking ‘think tank’. Dr Eassom, along with other ACoP appointments such as our Chief Professionalist, will further enhance our value and relevance as the thought leaders on the future of the professions and their professionals”.

Dr Simon Eassom, a research academic for 22 years and former university Head of School, is a prolific public presenter and in-demand speaker for over two decades.  After leaving a highly successful career in academia, in 2005 Simon joined IBM Global Business Services, based in Australia. Over the course of 13 years with the company became one of their key thought-leaders and experts on the impact of technology on our lives. He was one of the original IBM executives working with IBM’s “Watson” artificial intelligence (AI) software and presented at numerous international events on both the nature of AI (and what we really mean by AI) as well as on its potential to change the world for better or worse.  He led the strategy development of IBM’s “Smarter Education” solutions and initiated several of IBM’s major implementations of AI to facilitate learning, teaching and assessment, ultimately enabling fully personalised learning.  His reach also spreads to speaking to audiences on the future of health services, the future of banking, and the future of retail. With his colleagues, he developed IBM’s position statement on the impact of “blockchain” technologies on all industries.  Simon was formerly a Board member of Deakin University and has been a board member of ACoP since 2019.

Simon has a PhD in Philosophical Ethics built on a career-long interest in leadership, justice, fairness, and the relationship between philosophy and psychology. In the 1990s he was heavily involved with colleagues researching the use of sport as a vehicle for enhancing mutual respect in the “truth and reconciliation” process across as Northern Ireland, South Africa, and the Middle East.

Welcome Simon!

Budget 2022 – an Election is Coming

The federal government this week brought down their pre-election budget and the opposition provided a pre-election response. ACoP notes the budget and response in the main were well received with – as always – good parts, bits missing and questions to be answered.

ACoP believes that what was missing from both was a longer-term strategy for Australia.

Peter Strong, the Advocate for ACoP stated “To get best bang for the budget bucks we need expenditure to be part of a coherent plan that confronts the big issues and challenges of our near and medium futures: geopolitical unrest; cyber attacks; health issues; pandemics; the aged-care crisis, climate change; the economic threat to families from rising inflation and interest rates; national and international supply chain issues; re-establishing trust in government processes, and sovereignty.

There was certainly good focus on various parts of these issues, yet an overall strategy was not articulated.  That is what is needed to develop confidence and trust.

Mr Strong added “Politicians know that, globally, Australia is in a very good position regarding economics and pandemic. Therefore, it is important that hubris does not enter the ranks of our political parties. As we have seen with Ukraine, the future is full of unknowns.

However, the skills, knowledge, expertise and ethics of the professions of Australia can add to the capacity of government to make well-researched and sound policies – if they are listened to more often.

ACoP has noted that the one bit of budget that needs to be in place is funding for a federal version of ICAC. Australians want to have more trust in our political processes, in the grant allocation process and in the honesty of elected officials. It was disappointing to see that neither the government or opposition referenced an ICAC.

Now we will have an election in May – ACoP will have more to say as we advance through the election campaign process.

Mr Strong also stated “We need a vision for Australia and a strategy to implement it. Professionals can provide both.

For more information, email CEO@Professions.org.au

Forum for Climate Action – Inaugural Roundtable

ACoP was delighted to host the Australia and New Zealand Forum for Climate Action inaugural virtual Roundtable on Wednesday, 9 March 2022.

The Roundtable, facilitated by Forum Convenor and ACoP Board member Simon Hann, explored ways in which the collective agency of supporters and signatories of the Professional Bodies Climate Action Charter might be activated across the region to create substantial and meaningful outcomes.

In collaboration with founding members Chartered Accountants ANZ (CA ANZ), the National Environmental Law Association (NELA), Business Council of Sustainable Development Australia (BCSDA) and Engineers Australia (EA) we are stewarding the Charter’s ANZ Professional Bodies ‘Forum for Climate Action’.

With ACoP’s member organisations representing a million professionals across Australia, we are championing the duty of professionals to protect our national interest by promoting and practising sustainability in alignment with the goals of the Paris Agreement and in particular Australia’s international pledge of achieving net zero emissions (NZE) by at least 2050.

Charter Overview

The Charter brings together multi-disciplinary organisations to share and harness their expertise and climate-relevant resources while enhancing the capabilities of a broad range of professional organisations. It will achieve this by ensuring professionals are well informed on best-practices through relevant Continued Professional Development (CPD) resources whilst establishing common awareness and literacy of sustainability across and between professions.

Roundtable Discussion

The expert panel, comprised of national and international experts, shared their wealth of experience and knowledge through professional views and advice on the region’s climate agenda.

Zoe Whitton, (ESG Specialist and Partner, Pollination Group), pointed out that whilst both government and private sectors’ emission mitigation commitments set ambitious goals, many of these pledges have been announced with little or no strategy underpinning them. According to Zoe, capital markets are now strongly aligning their decisions to climate outcomes, primarily driven by asset risk. However, she also noted the rising number of climate-related litigation cases due to inadequate government and private sector responses and related fiduciary responsibilities which are likely to continue if not addressed and managed appropriately. Zoe concluded by highlighting that addressing climate is as much about mitigation as it is resilience and adaptation; and increasingly about nature-based solutions that are formed through collaborations across sectors, competitors, vertical supply chains and individuals.

Lisa Cliff, (Environmental Scientist, Program Manager – Better Futures Australia, Climate Action Network Australia) explained Better Future Australia’s establishment on the back of the 2019 bushfires which represented a politicisation and inertia to a federal climate change response. She also spoke about the opportunity now to advocate for the national climate policy settings for Australia and the need for civil society volunteers to keep fighting the bushfires and supporting flood rescue.  Lisa highlighted that the main obstacle to private sector actions across all sectors is a lack of national standards and policy uncertainty but maintained that industry players and sub-national governments’ collaboration can be a catalyst for national action.

Join the Forum for Climate Action

We invite individuals and professional organisations to join the Australian / New Zealand ‘Forum for Climate Action’ that works collectively to uphold the integrity and contribution that Australian professionals can make in pursuit of our Nation’s climate agenda. “Collaboratively, we intend to harness and share our joint expertise and climate-relevant resources to enhance capabilities to practice sustainability, including a timeline for achieving this and identifying the help and collaboration needed from within our partnerships to achieve this”, said ACoP Presideet A/Prof Klaus Veil.  

For more details, contact CEO@Professions.org.au

An Election focused on Trust

We need a Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).  

The Australian Council of Professions (ACoP) members know that in times of trouble trust is essential to a healthy functioning of society.

Peter Strong, ACoP’s Head of Advocacy, stated “Many professions have their own internal and external processes for investigation and enforcement of professional rules and ethical behaviours. In some in some cases for centuries. Professionals know this is essential – and wonder what’s the big deal with a Federal ICAC?

Mr Strong continued “these processes were developed to protect their reputations by querying, naming, punishing and sometimes expelling those who bring the particular profession into disrepute. This approach comes from a deep sense of responsibility for protecting the public interest, for preventing breaches of public trust, for guiding the conduct of professional members and for maintaining the integrity of a profession.  Examples of early self-regulation includes the Hippocratic Oath for Physicians and the Inns of Court for London barristers.” 

ACoP members know that a professional who breaches the rules faces public shame and an uncertain future. It is not a good fate and there are thankfully only a few who have suffered from this outcome, but it essential for the the support of those who work hard to build and maintain the all-important trust.

There are also a lot of government-imposed regulations and investigations. The Professions see no reason why others, including politicians, should not also have a similar process.

Mr Strong further stated “Most politicians are good and honest people and, as with all groups particularly those in positions of influence and power, there is temptation to abuse these positions.
We ask no more than what professional associations and government impose upon the professional community – an independent mechanism for dealing with complaints and where necessary recommending punitive actions.

This should be done for the sake of maintaining and where necessary rebuilding trust.

We know that public trust in many of our institutions has fallen and the politicians need to match the professions in challenging that perception and increasing trust to acceptable levels.

Which one?

Professional Bodies’ Collective Agency on Climate Action

As the coalition of countries committing to net-zero emissions by 2050 is growing and gaining momentum, the United Nations is calling for these commitments to be backed by realistic, credible, and timely action. The Australian Council of Professions (ACoP) is heeding this call and welcomes interested parties to participate in our mission.

In November 2021, our Member Organisations endorsed the global Professional Bodies Climate Action Charter representing a united force in sharing and harnessing joint expertise and resources to enhance the capabilities of professional organisations in their pledge to sustainable practice.

With the discourse on “Net Zero by 2050” and similar goals running hot, ACoP is committed to facilitating dialogue and coordinating tangible outcomes on the practical and realistic action that is required to achieve national climate-related goals aligned with the ambition of the Charter.

The power of collective agency is undisputed and as a collective of professional bodies across Australia and New Zealand, we can effect positive change either as supporters or adopters.

With that as the basis of ACoP’s mission, we are hosting an inaugural roundtable on Wednesday, 9 March 2022 to start the discussions, with a focus on the important next steps needed to establish operational approaches in support of the Charter. This includes discussion on the nature of participation, the Charter’s desired outcomes and realistic timelines to achieve these goals.

As interested parties to the Charter either as a supporter or adopter, you are warmly invited to participate in an inaugural Round-Table discussion.  Key topics for discussion will be the important next steps needed to establish operational approaches in support of the Charter including the nature of participation in support of the Charter’s desired outcomes.

We are delighted to welcome two international climate experts to our inaugural Roundtable who will share their wealth of experience and knowledge through professional views and advice on the region’s climate agenda:

Zoe Whitton is a Partner at Pollination Group, a specialist climate change investment and advisory firm. Zoe assists companies and investors to navigate the impacts of climate change and to build new businesses and products which are transition aligned. Zoe previously led the award-winning APAC ESG Research team at Citi, advising institutional investors globally on climate change and sustainable development. Earlier in her career Zoe covered ESG and climate change at Credit Suisse and at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and served as a youth delegate to the UNFCCC. She serves on the boards of the Investor Group on Climate Change and the Centre for Policy Development, and is part of the advisory group of the Sydney Environment Institute. Zoe has won numerous awards for her research and work on climate finance and risk, and regularly contributes to the wider conversation on sustainable finance by commentating in the Australian and international press, including in the AFR, the SMH, the Age, and the Wall Street Journal, along with publications such as the Quarterly Essay.
Professional Profile

Lisa Cliff, Better Futures Australia Manager, is an environmental scientist and climate policy professional by training, Lisa has worked across sectors to co-design and deliver solutions to environmental challenges including managing The Climate Reality Project – Australia and Pacific to enable a community of 1,600 trained leaders. Lisa has previously worked with the Qld Conservation Council and the ACT Government. Through her work with Climate Action Network Australia, Lisa engages a broad range of organisations to deliver the Better Futures Australia initiative, driving ambition across society and the economy and amplifying diverse voices calling on the federal government to do more.
Professional Profile

We invite indeviduals and professional associations who are not members of ACoP to join the Australian / New Zealand ‘Forum for Climate Action’ that works collectively to uphold the integrity and contribution that Australian professionals can make in pursuit of our Nation’s climate agenda. “Collaboratively, we intend to harness and share our joint expertise and climate-relevant resources to enhance capabilities to practice sustainability, including a timeline for achieving this and identifying the help and collaboration needed from within our partnerships to achieve this”, said ACoP President A/Prof Klaus Veil.  

Join the Forum email list here. For more details, contact CEO@Professions.org.au.

#BreakTheBias – Enough of the Chat, it’s time to Act!

As International Women’s Day (IWD) is marked across the globe today, there is resounding recognition that we still have a long way to go before equality between the genders is a reality. Through IWD celebrations, women and men will be sharing their experiences, supporting their peers, and offering solutions and opportunities on how collectively we can ‘break the bias’ and create gender equality in our professional environments and communities.

Here in Australia, the story is no different. From the Religious Discrimination Laws to the Sexual Harassment issues playing out in Parliament to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) report released this year showing Australia is still battling the gender pay gap, there is a clear and present problem in our country to genuinely embrace gender diversity and equality, and the bias that continues to underpin these stories.  The Australian Council of Professions is calling on Professional Organisations and their member professionals to step forward and lead the way in making change.

Grace Tame and Brittany Higgins’ speeches at the National Press Club on 9 February 2022 highlighted the toxic and debilitating inaction that is plaguing our government when it comes to protecting the rights of women and the vulnerable. Their formidable and fearless addresses could not have been clearer: ‘Act now or face the wrath of the next generation’.

They backed their pledge with the powerful #SafetyRespectEquity message supported by the many other women who have endured bias, discrimination, harassment, discrimination, and violence at the hands of their peers and professional community.

And while ACoP welcomes the milestone achieved last year that all ASX 200 companies have at least one female board member, the celebration of this achievement is diminished by the fact that women still hold only 30% of board positions and just over 43% of ASX 200 companies have not reached even that level of gender participation.

So it’s Time for some Action to #BreaktheBias!

It’s never too late to empower diversity and equality across your professional landscape. As members of an alliance of almost 1 million professionals, we have an immense opportunity – and obligation – to facilitate change in as many ways as possible.

ACoP has shone a spotlight on these issues and facilitated Professional Organisations to be part of change. We recently called for more women on boards, equal pay & closing the gap as well as evidence-based early-learning systems taht foster gender equality.

ACoP will also be holding a Roundtable event in the next couple of months on the issue of ‘Gender Deafness’. So stay tuned as we discuss, debate, and engage in healthy discourse with our member organisations about how to enable change.

We invite professional organisations who are not members of ACoP to join our alliance as we work collectively to uphold the integrity of gender parity and the contribution it makes to Australia’s well-being and prosperity. For more details, ring 1300 664 587 or contact CEO@Professions.org.au.

Supporting neurodiverse Professionals at Work

Professionals have a responsibility to create, enable and sustain inclusive and safe environments for the diverse range of individuals in our communities and workplaces.  However, at our ‘Neurodiversity in the Professions’ panel discussion last year we learnt that there is limited knowledge on how organisations can best support neurodiverse professionals at work.

ACoP is therefore stepping up by supporting research in neurodiversity across professional environments and what it means to you, as professionals within that landscape.  Last December, we also signed an MoU with Believe:neuroDiversity (B:nD), a peak body whose mission is to highlight the strengths of neurodiversity in order to improve the outcomes of neurodivergent people within Australia.

Additionally, parts of the COVID-related national skills shortage could be mitigated by attracting, retaining and leveraging neurodivergent professionals through inclusive work environments which support all forms of diversity for the benefit of our communities, both economically and socially.

At this Members-only Round Table we will continue our collaboration with B:nD by exploring the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of creating inclusive work environments for neurodivergent professionals including the Believe:inDex assessment tool which may assist in measuring neurodiversity support in organisations.

ACoP increases its Government Advocacy

ACoP is pleased to announce that Peter Strong has joined the team as our advocate in Canberra. Peter is the immediate past CEO of COSBOA and left that position to have a break. We have coaxed him back into the fray.

Peter Strong
(Photo Jesse Marlow)

In addition to until recently advocating for our MOU partner Council of Small Business Organisations of Australia (COSBOA), Peter lead and participated in various Australian government advisory groups including as Chairman of Ken Henry’s Treasury Business Advisory Forum on Standard Business Reporting (SBR), Marise Payne’s Womens Economic Security Advisory Group member, the ACCC’s small business advisory forum, the ASIC Business Advisory Forum, SBR Board member, the Australian Tax Commissioners small business advisory group member, the ATO’s GST specialist advisory group member and many other advisory bodies to Prime Minister & Cabinet, Treasury, DFAT and the Department of Innovation. In the past Peter has also consulted to government agencies, the World Bank and the United Nations mainly on business development, training, change management, economic reform and industry restructuring.

Peter stated “Working for ACoP is an honour. Working on behalf of the most trusted group in the country is a worthy role. It is interesting that in COSBOA I obviously worked for small business people and many of them were and are professionals – health practitioners, accountants, architect and so forth.

With COSBOA we focused on the importance of small business people to community and also the economy. With ACoP the main difference is that professionals can be business owners, managers, employees, public servants etc. But professionals are the intellectual backbone of our country and the future of innovation. They are also an integral part of community.

ACoP as the peak body already has a seat at tables of importance as do the members of ACoP. We will now expand the reach of ACoP and ensure the opinions, expert opinion at that, will be heard more often.

Click here to see Mr Strong’s experience (linked from his website)