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Adam Smith: Where is the Love: Are Our Public Institutions Failing Our Young People?


Once upon a time, older generations could berate young people for not realising their relative good fortune. But these days, it seems that opportunities for young people are dwindling … along with government funds for education and employment.

There’s been a huge shift in the last decade or so in the way ‘middle Australia’ views public schools – and a corresponding drop in public school enrolment in this band. We’ve also witnessed substantial university fee hikes, a radically stripped-back TAFE sector, and the eradication of technical schools.

Our public libraries and health services, meanwhile, seem to be showering an embarrassment of riches on pre-schoolers, but flounder in the delivery of programmes of substance targeting teenagers and young adults.

And job prospects for those leaving our educational institutions and entering the world of work are increasingly limited.

Have we lost sight of what our young people need – and what they can contribute to society? And can we reinvigorate our public institutions to better educate, support and care for those who will, before long, play a central role in shaping our future?

Sometimes, there’s nothing better than a good rant. Every Thursday, the Wheeler Centre hosts an old-fashioned Speaker’s Corner in the middle of the city, where writers and thinkers can have their say on the topics that won’t let them sleep at night.

Featuring some of the most compelling voices across just about every sector of human endeavour you can imagine, the themes dominating Lunchbox/Soapbox are proudly idiosyncratic. BYO lunch. Ideas provided.



Adam Smith

Adam Smith is an expert commentator and consultant specialising in partnership development and network building in and around schools. He is a Board Member of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), and regular Education Analyst for Channel 10’s The Project. As former CEO of the Fo... Read more


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