Mitchell Youth Leadership Forum

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell—Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs) (10:05): On Friday 8 October, the annual Mitchell Youth Leadership Forum, which has been widely successful over the last 20 years, was again held, and it was as a huge success. This year, however, it was a testimony of how, under difficult and restrictive conditions due to the lockdowns and the restrictions caused by the pandemic in Sydney, 132 students representing 13 local schools in my electorate met virtually for a full day of leadership. MYLF has not skipped a beat during the pandemic as school principals, speakers, sponsors, volunteer leaders, the steering committee—everyone—stepped up to produce an exceptional interactive virtual program incorporating breakout rooms and focusing on our three core values of service, integrity and courage.

The forum is unique to any other youth leadership endeavour as it places year 11 students in an unfamiliar environment with their peers for a 2½-day live-in program where they participate in developing leadership skills, team-building activities and discussions about our three core values of service, integrity and courage. The alternative format this year ensured the forum was still able to support a cohort of year 11 student leaders and provide them with an engaging opportunity to develop their leadership skills during a year where we've needed the development of our leaders, especially with youth mental health issues, more than ever before.

I would like to thank our 13 participating schools, including their development of the leaders of the future: Baulkham Hills High School, Castle Hill High School, Galston High School, Hills Grammar, Kellyville High School, Marian Catholic College, Model Farms High School, Muirfield High School, Northholm Grammar, Northmead CAPA High School, Norwest Christian College, Redfield College and Tangara School for Girls. Special thanks go to the principals who have supported the forum, and the forum's values, for 20 years now, and who continue to support our excellent leadership program. Keynote speakers on this day included Matt Kershaw and Barnaby Howarth—great supporters of the forum who inspired the students with their own remarkable stories of overcoming their life battles, including the students realising the values needed to be an effective leader. I also want to thank the committee, the ongoing and passionate committee, of former leaders and pupils who make the forum a great success, and our sponsors—Nature's Sunshine Products Australia, Swift Consulting, Castle Towers, QIC—all of whom contributed to this year's forum and the success and the vision in developing our leaders of tomorrow.

Leaders of the present have a distinct responsibility to encourage and support the leaders of tomorrow, and I want to thank all of the students who have come back year in and year out to help develop their peers and to bring forward student leaders and leaders of the future, developing their skills in a positive and collaborative environment. I'm glad to be able to witness this in action, and to support it as the local member and as the president of the forum. I'm so proud to see what has been achieved over the last 20 years, and the leadership skills that have been developed. I look forward to seeing the achievements of these students, despite this very difficult year, in supporting their peers with the mental health challenges they have faced, with the peer challenges they have faced in a year unlike any other.