Ralph Ashton

Ralph Ashton, Thought Leader, Speaker, Facilitator, Trainer

Ralph has a track record of conceiving, building, and leading non-partisan initiatives to tackle cross-sectoral challenges. As the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Australian Futures Project, Ralph has spoken to over 1,000 decision-makers from all sectors across Australia with a particular focus on how short-termism is blocking a flourishing shared future.

The Australian Futures Project (AFP) is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation with a mission to fix short-termism. In order to do so, Ralph believes Australian democracy requires three things:

1. Vision: Politicians who offer relevant and compelling visions for the future of Australia
2. Capability: Governments that solve Australia’s big challenges
3. Accountability: A simple way for the public to hold leaders (politicians and public servants) to account for the future they are creating on behalf of all Australians

It is the job of politicians to offer the vision, therefore AFP focuses on working to improve government capability and accountability by finding and building catalytic initiatives.

AFP’s unique approach has a proven track record. Two examples include developing Australia’s first and only Parliamentary Leaders Program for State and Federal politicians from all parties, and 21st Century Service – a unique suite of applied courses to build the culture and capability of the public service.

Ralph himself facilitates these programs directly to politicians and public servants across the country. To date, the Parliamentary Leaders Programs counts 5% of all federal parliamentarians as alumni, and over 1,000 public servants from 25+ Federal Departments have participated in 21st Century Service.

In addition, Ralph has led a number of large-scale public engagement projects. This includes What’s the Future Australia (2017), an initiative engaging Australians with decision makers and experts to create positive change, and world-first My Big Idea (2016), which reached 15 million Australians and engaged over 10,000 citizens in discussion and community-led action on the future of the country.

As a highly skilled and experienced speaker and facilitator Ralph has spoken at a number of corporate, government and educational events in Australia and internationally, including Purpose 2018, Ashurst Boardroom Lunch Series (2017) and the Social Enterprise World Forum 2017.

Prior to co-founding the Australian Futures Project in 2012, Ralph spent a decade leading international public policy initiatives, working closely on every continent with governments, the United Nations, World Bank, business, academia, and non-profits. This included coordinating WWF’s global response to the Indian Ocean earthquakes and tsunami, and convening and chairing the multi-disciplinary international Terrestrial Carbon Group. With a background in corporate law and investment banking, Ralph has also held visiting positions at Columbia University and the Australian National University.