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Are you a young social innovator, a creator or a dreamer? Do you want your say in your digital future? Join us at SXSW Sydney. 

UNICEF Office of Innovation and SXSW Sydney have teamed up to create NxtWave Futures Lab, a place where young people don't just predict the future – they live it, and they shape it. Imagine an immersive, hands-on environment that puts you in the fast lane to the future. It's a journey that begins the moment you step into the Lab and stays with you long after, inspiring you to carve out new paths toward digital equity and safety. 

Young people participating in the conference will contribute and workshop ideas to create a more inclusive and safe digital landscape, with concepts to be included in the United Nations (UN) Global Digital Compact at the 2024 Summit of the Future in New York.

Register your interest
Young boy from Ukraine using virtual reality technology.
Vitalii, an 18-year-old Ukraine college student hopes the virtual reality sessions can help children to forget the violence and trauma they have experienced.
© UNICEF/UN0678699/Filippov

What will I be doing?

- Form part of the 50 strong, diverse, youth participant group.

- Meet new people, discuss key issues relating to digital safety and equity.

- Learn about future scenarios on what your digital lives could be from global experts.

- Create a journal entry from the future, the format is up to you.

- Group brainstorming on three future scenarios, present back as part of a team.

- Gain free day pass to SXSW Sydney on Tuesday, 17 October 2023.

Girl on her electronic device
UNICEF Burundi launched U-report, a free text messaging service based on RapidPro technology. Users receive poll questions on a range of social issues, which enables better aid decisions and empowers young people to directly advocate for the changes they wish to see.
© UNICEF/UNI265809/

What skills would I need?

- Passion for making a difference.

- A digital native between the ages of 18 to 25 years old.

- Understanding of issues that affect youth within the digital space. 

- Feel confident in participation and can contribute to the diversity in thought at the event. 

Two young people filming in Congo DRC
A 13-year-old child reporter interviews a young girl in the streets of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Trained in advocacy tools such as video, photography, and article writing, child reporters are able to deliver their vision on the issues they encounter.
© UNICEF/UN0560113/Dubourthoumieu

Key event information

Date: Tuesday, 17 October 2023

Session time: 10am till 4pm AEST

Where: ICC Sydney, Darling Harbour


SXSW Sydney is a regional extension of the globally renowned South by Southwest conference, dedicated to fostering creative and professional growth. It champions innovation, creativity, and the drive to make the world a better place.

SXSW Sydney is an extension of the Austin event (and the first time the festival’s leaving home soil). Expect a whole lot of new innovative ideas and creativity from the Asia Pacific region. If you’ve been to SXSW before, expect some small changes to the event format, and while Tech and Innovation will still be major driving forces within the Sydney event, they won’t sit under the “SXSW Sydney Interactive” banner.

"Young people are the architects and builders of our collective digital future. Yet they experience a global digital paradox; some are digital natives and others have restricted or limited digital access. For a safe, open and equitable digital future, it is critical to ensure the global diversity of young people are heard, inclusively equipped with skills and opportunities, and their ingenuity supported. We are excited to align with the SXSW community in this shared purpose," explains Thomas Davin, Director, UNICEF Office of Innovation.

Answer this question:

How do you feel you will contribute to the diversity in thought (gender, disability, age, ethnicity, religion) of our event?

Yes. However, you will be responsible for making your own way to Sydney and arranging your own accommodation. Feel free to reach out to our event manager for any accommodation recommendations near the venue.

UNICEF can provide travel advice but cannot cover transport and accommodation costs. 

If your submission is selected, congratulations! You will receive all the details for the day from one of our event managers. 

This is a youth event and need to be aged between 18 and 25 years old. Therefore, you need to be born no earlier than 17/10/2014 and no later than 17/10/1998.

UNICEF Australia and SXSW Sydney acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land where the event will take place. Representation is important to us, and with the guidance of local Traditional Custodians, we are working to ensure the event recognises and respectfully upholds inclusive cultural protocols. We encourage First Nations peoples to enter for participation consideration.

No, you will be provided with a free day pass for Tuesday, 17 October 2023. This gives you full access to the festival for the day.

No, just yourself and a refillable drink bottle. Snacks and lunch will be provided to you on the day.

Yes, please feel comfortable to bring your companion.

Accredited service animals are welcome inside the venue. To assist our team, please display their identification badge or medallion.

Yes, all access points have stair-free options available and are gradient compliant.

TEG and the New South Wales Government via Destination NSW.

The Event Manager details will be provided in your welcome pack, should you be chosen. Plus, there are many volunteers throughout the festival that can help guide you to our session room.

About UNICEF Office of Innovation

UNICEF’s Office of Innovation is an agile global architecture aligning with diverse partners to boldly explore and scale innovative approaches and technologies to deliver equitable impact and opportunity for every child today, and an accelerated pace of change for generations to come.  


UNICEF operates in more than 190 countries in some of the world’s toughest places to reach the most disadvantaged children. UNICEF Australia works with local partners to raise children’s voices, defend their rights, and help them reach their potential at all stages of life, here and in neighbouring countries. We rely entirely on voluntary donations to provide lifesaving support; improve maternal and child health, education, and nutrition; and to respond to global emergencies.

About SXSW Sydney

SXSW Sydney is a regional extension of the globally renowned South by Southwest conference, dedicated to fostering creative and professional growth. It champions innovation, creativity and the drive to make the world a better place.