Summit 2011

Rural Futures Matter: Ideas and Actions for a Sustainable Australia

September 21-23, 2011 at Flinders University, School of Education

Background and Context

Vibrant productive rural communities are integral to Australia's future, Australia's sustainability.


Because by the year 2050 it is estimated there will be an extra 3 billion people on planet Earth. For Australia, this means a population of at least 35 million which throws into sharp relief the fundamentals of a quality life for all of the nation's citizens in terms of food security, water, energy, environmental health, human services, governance, business, employment and so forth.

Today, with declining proportions of state and national populations, many rural and regional areas are struggling to remain viable in relation to essential human services like education and health, in the face of rising costs per unit of services required (as defined by certain views of economic costings and benefits), and the pervasive impacts of globalisation on rural economies.

It is also the case that around Australia things are happening ‘on the ground', in academia, by governments and private enterprise and through a myriad of community and regional level efforts of individuals and groups intended to enhance living, learning and earning in rural Australia.

However, much of what is being done and planned is not linked and leveraged. This means that the potential of rural communities to shape their own futures and the future of Australia is not optimised.

Summit's Purpose

In view of the above, The Sidney Myer Chair of Rural Education and Communities in partnership with the Society for the Provision of Education for Rural Australia (SPERA) and Rural Education Forum Australia (REFA) will hold a National Summit from September 21 to 23 at Flinders University in 2011. The summit will be an open event.

The main outcome of the summit will be a set of recommendations for advancing the focus of the summit- Rural Futures Matter- for rural communities, individuals and for the nation as a whole.

The recommendations will be produced via a three stage process.

  • The first stage involves a 30 minute Critical Input from a researcher or expert, or a representative of an organization or body, with some of the input oriented towards actions/solutions and framing of a recommendation or recommendations.
  • The second phase involves summit participants processing the inputs and the recommendations in small groups.
  • The third phase involves brief reporting back to the full summit and prioritising recommendations.

The plenary session of the summit will be used to agree on a set of recommendations for public dissemination, together with other items, to promote the outcomes.

The summit organisers will work especially hard and strategically to ensure there is a effective diversity of presenters to maximize generating a set of recommendations to advance rural futures matter.





"Vibrant, productive rural communities are integral to the long-term sustainability of Australia."