The Australian Futures Project is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation dedicated to ending short-termism in Australia. Our vision is an Australia where all parts of society demand and work together constructively toward decisions and action that balance the immediate and long-term needs of the country. 

After a career leading complex, international public policy initiatives, Ralph Ashton founded The Australian Futures Project in 2012 to try to understand the reasons for Australia’s short-termism, and to find ways of addressing it. Ralph met with over 1,000 leaders across Australian society, including politicians, community leaders, CEOs, journalists, academics and opinion makers to discuss ways to end this logjam while ensuring Australia’s continued prosperity. 

It was from these discussions that The Australian Futures Project was born. Throughout our first six years, we experimented and developed initiatives with catalytic impact to help improve how Australia creates its future. This includes two state-wide programs on the future of Agriculture, 21st Century Service – a course for public servants on solving complex challenges, My Big Idea – a national conversation engaging 15 million Australians on the future of the country and the Parliamentary Leaders Program – Australia’s only program dedicated to transforming the leadership of our nation’s politicians. 

Based on our first six years, Australian Futures Project is launching three new initiatives in 2019 to tackle the three root causes of short-termism; the national conversation, politics and our system for decision-making. 

Our Values

Big Picture, Optimistic, Bold, Catalytic, Constructive

Meet the team

Ralph Ashton

Ralph Ashton
Executive Director

Ralph Ashton founded the Australian Futures Project to end short-termism in Australia by first understanding the root causes and then engaging leaders, experts, and the public to identify and implement systemic solutions. Ralph has a strong track record of conceiving, building, and leading non-partisan initiatives to create systems change. Before 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. From 2004 to 2007 he co-created WWF’s Humanitarian-Conservation Partnership that changed how environmental and humanitarian organisations collaborate on large-scale disaster response, and between 2007 and 2011 he enrolled and chaired the Terrestrial Carbon Group that changed the international debate and action on unlocking the 30% of the climate change solution represented by agriculture and forestry. With a background in corporate law and investment banking, Ralph is Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at La Trobe Business School and has also held visiting positions at Columbia University and the Australian National University.


Chloë Spackman
Director of Programs

Chloë brings over 10 years of experience running cross-cultural and leadership programs, as well as extensive events, programming and team leading experience. With a focus on empowerment through a broadening of knowledge and horizons, Chloë developed and led multiple symposia to Canberra, Turkey and Brazil and has organised Youth Development Forums, bringing together Timorese, Papua New Guinean and Australian youth to workshop rights-based approaches to youth-led development. Most recently, Chloë managed Macquarie University’s Global Leadership Program (GLP), which was awarded a prestigious international award from the Institute for International Education for Innovation and Best Practice in Internationalising the Campus. Chloë is invested in education, leadership and innovation for systems change and social impact.

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Malcolm Doig
Facilitator, Parliamentary Leaders Program

Malcolm has 23 years experience managing high-performance teams. As Founding Director of Corporate Evolution, he is dedicated to helping leaders transform their worlds through creation of high-performance team leadership and organisational transformation. Malcolm has been coaching senior executives in leading organisations in Australia, Asia and Europe over the last 14 years and is part of a leading global management consultancy’s international network.


Jessica Fuller

Program and Communications Manager

Currently completing a Masters of Public Policy and Governance at the University of New South Wales, Jess has a diverse background working across communications, marketing and event management. She has worked with a number of organisations in the not-for-profit and private sector, and is interested in building innovation and leadership development in Australia.


Paula Steyer
Director of Finance

Paula manages the day-to-day financial, regulatory and all reporting requirements of the organisation. Paula is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia and New Zealand. Prior to moving into the not-for-profit sector, Paula worked in the public practice sector, and in senior taxation, finance and human resources positions at HSBC Bank. Paula has worked in the finance and company secretarial role in the not-for-profit sector for the past 7 years.

Advisory Board

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Ivan Wheen
Principal, Nanuk Asset Management

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Kate Chaney
Director, Innovation and Strategy, Anglicare WA

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Jono Gourlay
Head of Investment, Advisory, Mutual Trust

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Nigel Andrade
Country Head and Global Lead Partner (Proposition & Customer Experience), AT Kearney

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Lisa Cotton
CEO, Ideology Group

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Rachel Peck

Principal, Peck Von Hartel Architects

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Alexandra Burt
Co-Founder, The Landsmith Collection

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Professor John Dewar
Vice-Chancellor, La Trobe University

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Alan Oakley

Former Editor, News Corp Australia and Fairfax Media



Academic Partner


Catalytic Philanthropists