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  • Writer's pictureAnnie Brett

Snapshot of SICON 2020: Making a difference in an uncertain world

The Social Innovation Conference (or SICON) is back with SICON2023 Our future with AI: From science fiction to social fiction!

Rapid advances in AI present an opportunity to harness the power of technology to help solve a wide range of real-world problems and improve social outcomes. However, advances in AI also pose threats that can have devastating impacts. As AI becomes increasingly entrenched in society, we must ask ourselves: How do we collectively design a world where AI is used for good?

SICON2023 will feature seminars (and webinars!) from renowned thought leaders between October 16th and November 16th. The sessions will cover the impacts of AI across different areas of social outcomes such as health, education, jobs and skills, amongst others. The flagship event, 'AI and Poverty' will be an all-day event hosted at the National Museum of Australia on October 16th, timed with Anti-Poverty Week. Webinars will bring together international and national AI experts and changemakers harnessing AI to create social good. The conference will close with 'Creating Connections: closing session and networking event' at Café Stepping Stone on 16th November.

This is a SICON you’re not going to want to miss!

But October is a while away, so we wanted to take this opportunity to snapshot the incredible webinars that took place at SICON2020.

Making a difference in an uncertain world was about exploring and celebrating social innovations that are making a difference in Australia and around the world. The webinar series featured a range of social changemakers who have taken a unique path to lead a life of passion and dedication towards making social impact. SICON2020 online included panelists who are making a difference across a range of social issues including mental health, domestic and family violence, disability and ageing, employment and refugee policy amongst others. We also talked to inspiring individuals who are re-designing systems and pivoting their businesses to address the challenges that lie ahead as the world grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

For those of us thinking about how to make a difference in a changing and uncertain world, SICON2020 online helped attendees build their personal roadmaps for building a better world.

Let’s take a look back at some of the SICON2020 key takeaways.

Moving Feast: A collective approach to changing food systems

Rebecca Scott is the CEO of one of Australia’s most innovative and successful social enterprises STREAT and the instigator of Moving Feast. In this keynote event, she discussed what it is taking to change the world’s food system.

Why was Moving Feast created?

  • Moving Feast is a collective approach at changing the food system in Australia.

  • COVID-19 made it apparent that there was going to be enormous disruptions in the systems. For entrepreneurs, disruptions bring opportunities, and it was important to Rebecca that she and other social entrepreneurs took advantage of the disruptions to bring about positive change.

It’s important to have food coming through the food system. Not just buying food, but actually connecting to growing and to cooking.” – Rebecca Scott

What did Moving Feast do?

  • At the start of the pandemic, Moving Feast conducted a mapping exercise to determine which groups would be suffering from hunger the most through the pandemic. They also undertook heat mapping of Victoria so they knew of every local government area that would be really struggling.

  • Moving Feast planted over 750 thousand seeds. By the second half of 2020, they were ready to harvest a decent majority of that food for distribution to the identified people and communities.

“Often we are building our enterprises because there has been a system failure, that the current system isn’t working. We build social enterprises to address those problems.” – Rebecca Scott

Social innovation in Canberra: The role of public policy

Practical responses during crisis

Changing the narrative of employment (or how to create social change with coffee and donuts!)

Domestic and family violence in uncertain times

Hooked? De-stigmatising addiction

Social innovation and the ABC Trailblazers

Future of social enterprise: The benefits of engaging youth in social entrepreneurship

3 Dimensions of the Future Ways of Work (FWOW)

Building a better post-COVID 19 world

Other webinars at SICON 2020 included:

Pivoting during COVID-19

Masterclass: 5 ways to win social impact investor’s heart

Managing Hybrid Enterprises (guidebook)

Women and e-Commerce (WE) is an online marketplace created in response to the lockdown in Bangladesh. Now almost 500,000 women are using the platform to sustain their livelihoods. Razib shared about the incredible impact of WE resulting in economic empowerment for Bangladeshi women.

Shazeeb M Khairul Islam is managing director of YY ventures, a social business accelerator program that is mentored by Professor Muhammad Yunus. In this masterclass, he taught attendees what social impact investors are looking for and how to leverage it.

Dr Sally Curtis sat down (virtually) with Associate Professor Danielle Logue and Dr Gillian McAllister to discuss research insights into how to manage hybrid enterprises, or social enterprises. The discussion drew upon Logue and McAllister’s co-authored guidebook “Managing Hybrid Enterprises”.

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