Future Focus Group

Our business and civic leadership program continues to develop the leadership our city needs.

A unique opportunity for selected emerging leaders in Melbourne to better understand, connect within and contribute to Melbourne while building their leadership capabilities

Future Focus Group (FFG), which will now run over 15 months, is a transformational experience for the emerging leaders who participate, with over 400 graduates to date. 

Now in its third decade, FFG features an Induction Weekend, group projects in diverse teams, 15 evening workshops and active one-on-one mentoring.  FFG also provides opportunities to build enduring relationships with other participants and alumni.   

Participants in the Class of 2019-2020 – the last in a 21 month format – commenced in February 2019, are in three project teams and will graduate in November 2020.  The Class of 2020-2021 commenced in February 2020 – those participants are also in three project teams and they will graduate in June 2021.

Nominations for the 2021-2022 Program will be sought from August 2020, with a start expected in February 2021.

Please contact Future Focus Group General Manager Matt Gaffney for further information

A transformational experience

From big business through to universities and genuine not-for-profits, FFG attracts participants from every sector of the Committee’s membership base. This broad exposure enables participants to develop connections and work with colleagues outside their usual circles, creating a network of professional relationships and friendships that can last a lifetime. 


The elements of FFG

A key component of FFG is the group projects that can, by graduation, contribute tangibly and positively to the future economy, infrastructure, urban densification or liveability of Melbourne – the four policy platforms of the Committee – with diverse Project Teams of 6 to 8 members.

A participant’s Project Team experience is complemented by:

      • An initial wide-ranging Induction Weekend with a significant focus on potential group projects for each newly-formed Project Team (12 projects will be provided for consideration)
      • 15 Workshops, most commencing with Project Team time – with a mix of guest speakers, Perspectives on Leadership Panels, Project Review Panels and ‘Melbourne Unearthed’ presentations and experiences, complemented by some skill build sessions and Project Team presentations
      • A one-on-one mentoring relationship with a Melburnian with leadership responsibilities outside the participant’s organisation
      • A pair of meetings that the General Manager FFG will schedule with the Nominator of the participant to discuss her or his participation
      • Opportunities to build enduring relationships with other FFG participants and, in time, with members of the FFG Alumni Network

 What does a typical 'FFGer' look like?

The typical attributes of a candidate for the Future Focus Group are: 

      • 8 to 12 years’ work experience, combined with some management experience
      • An appetite for some independence, initiative and ambiguity during the Program
      • Able to commit to the Program for its duration, including attendance at the Induction Weekend, at 12 or more of the 15 monthly workshops and at Project Team meetings and other interactions
      • A strong interest in making Melbourne a better place
      • Recognised by leaders of the organisation as a likely future leader of that organisation
           A keen desire to develop leadership skills through a practical learning model in a challenging and diverse team         environment 

For information about this program, contact Matt Gaffney, General Manager, Future Focus Group:

T   +61 (3) 9650 8800

E   mgaffney@melbourne.org.au

A selection of past projects

The project group submitted a detailed submission to the Victorian Government for tram travel in the Melbourne CBD and Docklands to be made free-of-charge to enhance the liveability of the CBD. Using the government’s prescribed ‘Investment Lifecycle Guidelines’, the submission included information gained from consultation with key stakeholders, as well as detailed financial and transport modelling, utilising the Melbourne Integrated Transport Model.

After sustained advocacy by the group members and the Committee, free tram travel in the CBD and Docklands was introduced in January 2015, making Melbourne a more enjoyable place to visit, work, learn and live. 

The project group successfully developed and launched Open House Melbourne. The aim was to establish an annual free-of-charge event to showcase to Melburnians and national and international visitors, the wealth of architecture and design nestled in and around our city.

The inaugural Open House Melbourne event , held on 20 July 2008, with more than 30,000 visits to eight buildings, now attracts more than 130,000 visitors to over 100 buildings.

In 2012, Open House Melbourne received the prestigious Melbourne Award for Contribution to Profile by a Community Organisation as well as a Special Award from the Australian Institute of Architecture in recognition for its work promoting architecture to the public. Now an incorporated not-for-profit association, Open House Melbourne is part of the Open House Worldwide Network founded by Open House London.


The outcome of this project was the launch of a world-first green roof design competition open to both professional and student architects and landscape architects. Building owners were encouraged to register their roofs for the chance to win a fully-funded, architecturally-designed green roof. The result was the installation of a green roof on a CBD building at 131 Queen Street, Melbourne, which was officially opened on 15 July 2010 by the Lord Mayor.

Funding and in-kind support in excess of $500,000 from government, private enterprise and suppliers was secured as well as an Australian Research Council linkage grant of over $3 million for future green roof research.

This project continues to inform policy and generate interest subsequently inspiring the Growing Green Guide: A Guide to Green Roofs, Walls and Façades as well as regular press coverage.

In partnership with the City of Melbourne’s Office of Knowledge Capital and other key stakeholders, the project group developed and organised a welcome booth at Melbourne Airport for international students that included a team of volunteers, who handed out information packs containing information relating to employment, accommodation, city services, safety and social integration. Over 4000 information welcome packs were handed to foreign students arriving in February 2009.

All of the project participants were invited by the Office of Knowledge Capital to be part of the Office of Knowledge Capital International Education Reference Advisory Group. This project continues to this day as the City of Melbourne's 'Welcome Desk'.

The project group initiated the creation of a bronze sculpture of the main characters from Norman Lindsay's The Magic Pudding, as a centrepiece of a CBD-based children's garden precinct. The Magic Pudding sculpture was commissioned, cast at the Victorian College of the Arts and unveiled in 2000 at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne by Norman Lindsay's granddaughter Helen Glad. Now known as The Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden, the garden along with the sculpture, has become a popular Melbourne landmark.

Following this project, one of the participants founded and established the Melbourne Prize Trust, which runs the Melbourne Prize for Urban Sculpture, the Melbourne Prize for Literature and the Melbourne Prize for Music in a three-year cycle and has to date, made available approximately $1 million to Victorian artists.

"Amongst the Committee's greatest assets must surely be the participants and alumni of the Future Focus Group."

The Honourable Linda Dessau AM, Governor of Victoria & Future Focus Group Patron