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Business School Alumni to represent concerns of Australian youth at high powered World Economic Forum

04 Jun 2013

The views of young Australians on development priorities in East Asia and Australia's future links with the region are to be represented by two former University of Sydney Commerce students at the high powered World Economic Forum (WEF), being held in Myanmar from 5 to 7 June.

The current New South Wales Young Australian of the Year, Corey Payne, and Macquarie Group executive, Rowena O'Neill, have been selected as Sydney based WEF Global Shapers to attend the Forum in early June.

They will join senior corporate decision makers, government leaders, academic and civil society representatives for what will be the first major international gathering in Myanmar since the government adopted a series of political reforms two years ago.

"I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to visit Myanmar and to engage in the global dialogue offered by the WEF," said Mr Payne. "Beyond Myanmar, this gathering will give some of the most influential people in the world an opportunity to work out ways of fostering relations with East Asia."

Amongst others, the Forum's Co-Chairs include the heads of AirAsia, Mitsubishi Corp., PepsiCo, Tata Consulting, GE and the United Nations Development Programme.

A total of 50 young people from across the Asia Pacific region will attend. "It's good to see people under 30 being given a seat at the table," Mr Payne said. "We have a real opportunity at this forum to show that you don't have to be over 40 to be concerned about the future."

"Our mining boom will come to an end at some point and I believe that Australia needs to develop a knowledge based economy that interacts with our neighbours up in East Asia," he added.

Mr Payne, a former rugby league star player who now heads the not-for-profit Future Direction Network and Ms O'Neill who was previously National Development Manager at social enterprise Fitted For Work both believe their participation in the forum reflects the University of Sydney's high international standing.

"Fitted for Work assists women experiencing disadvantage to gain financial independence through employment." said Ms O'Neill.

"Joblessness is a serious issue for our generation. Seventy five million young people around the world are jobless. While global economic growth remains low, there are significant opportunities for employment creation in the Asian region, with East Asia's combined GDP at US$2 trillion."

"That's why it is very important for the voice of the region's youth to be heard when it comes to issues of development, job creation and intergenerational equity," she said. "Our generation is definitely one that speaks up when we are concerned about the future."

The University of Sydney Business School is sponsoring Mr Payne and Ms O'Neill's attendance at the forum.

This is an important opportunity for two of our most accomplished alumni to engage with thought leaders of global standing in a way that will ultimately benefit the youth of Australia," said Co-Dean, Professor Tyrone Carlin.