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Melbourne event returns with focus on student voice

An upcoming event in Victoria is hoping to celebrate the “remarkable journeys” of international students in the Australian state.

The equity and inclusion initiative in Victoria is "dedicated to empowering international students and addressing their unique challenges". Photo: pexels

The 2023 conference will be held in Melbourne on September 9

The Future Forte Conference 2023, focusing on equity and inclusion in the state, is aiming to unite global minds and advance gender equity.

“We understand the transformative power of international education and the impact it has on students and the broader society,” said Belle Lim, founder and executive director of Future Forte.

“Through the Future Forte Conference, we aim to create a supportive and empowering environment that not only enhances the student experience but also fosters global connections and encourages students to become ambassadors of change in their communities both in Australia and in our home countries.”

The inaugural event in 2020 also placed female leadership in the spotlight.

Supported by Study Melbourne, the 2023 iteration of the conference will be held in Melbourne on September 9.

Global Victoria CEO, Danni Jarrett, noted that the Future Forte conference will “raise the visibility of Victoria’s talented international student community”.

“International students enrich and enliven our community and we’re committed to the advancement of women and gender diverse students,” she reminded.

Speaking with The PIE, Lim said that international students “are always looking for opportunities to develop professionally and personally”, especially with key skills such as effective communications, problem solving and management of their own wellbeing.

Helping students to gain these skills, helps them to become “more confident in pursuing their goals”, she said.

“Building genuine connections with peers can improve the sense of belonging for international students, while building a professional network can open doors for international students that may otherwise be difficult to access.”

The event this year will allow students to showcase their innovative ideas and experiences in a ‘TED Talk’ style presentation in the FF Spotlight on International Students session.

They will present experiences such as the challenges they have faced, how they overcame them and the rewarding outcomes that they gained, Lim explained.

“International students face a unique set of challenges that need to be considered and addressed”

“The topics will range from mental health to entrepreneurial journey, to recognising the value of their cultural knowledge.

“International students face a unique set of challenges that need to be considered and addressed in the context of the international student experience (instead of a cookie cutter manner).”

Like the last iteration of the event, conference organisers recognise that its “offerings fill a gap in students’ needs that is to discuss and promote gender equity in the context of international students’ experience”.

It has also commenced a consultation process with students from the LGBTIQA+ community and will be rolling out more initiatives in the future, Lim added.

It will also create a “safe and inclusive space for international students to feel seen and heard, as well as communicate their needs and ideas freely”, she said.

“Future Forte places a strong focus on amplifying the lived experience of international students and presenting role models that are representative of our audience. Based on past events’ feedback, participants feel more empowered and connected after attending the conference.”

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