National Aspiring Leaders Summit '09 Recap

The 2009 Outward Bound National Aspiring Leaders Summit was a huge success. Twenty-five young people from across Australia came to Outward Bound's National Centre in Tharwa near Canberra for the seven-day leadership program. Congratulations to all the young people who participated and are now making a big difference in their communities. 

We asked the participants to provide feedback on the program, comments included:
  • "It was a once in a lifetime opportunities and the skills and friends I gained I will cherish"
  • "I gained a strong sense of passion and determination to complete my project and a network and support system to help me do so"
  • "I can make a difference, I believe in myself and others"
  • "I can do anything. I can jump any wall, pass any challenge and succeed"
  • "I learned to trust in others to get the best result, work with others more efficiently and make good decisions by thinking first"
  • "I have the power to make a difference"
  • "I am more confident and stronger than I though. The values journey totally transformed me, I learned about myself and the changes I need to make"
  • "I gained the drive to do something in my community to make a real difference"
  • "I now know that being a leader isn't always about making the decisions and telling people what to do, it' about listening to others and sometimes taking a step back"

National Aspiring Leaders Summit 2009 Participants 

In total approximately 120 people were engaged directly in organising or implementing community projects in the six months following the Summit. The potential for these programs to impact a far larger group is evident. One project aims to produce a fundraising concert, with the aim of targeting a crowd of approximately 500 young people. Another participant was directly involved in publishing a book to be given to every child entering foster care in the Western Australian Child Protection Service. The book will provide hints, tips and share stories of others with similar experiences.

Three selected alumni from the 2008 program were brought onboard during the 2009 program to share their projects, the challenges they faced and the support they received. The 2009 participants were able to ask questions and get tips about their own projects. It was great to highlight the different scale of the three mentor's projects. One alumni's project was school based, another's was a broad community project and the third was a large scale concert that is still being planned, but is well on its way to being implemented. These presentations provided a good reality check in identifying the challenging road that could lay ahead with the projects, but also identifying the rewards.

Guest Speakers and Special Guests

The guests involved with this program demonstrate the unique qualities of the National Aspiring Leaders Summit. The program aims to give participants access to experience and advice, widening their perspective and understanding of further pathways available to them. For example, Governor General, Ms Quentin Bryce accepted an invitation to close the Summit and her words of encouragement and advice given to each individual student went beyond expectations. Participants felt they were recognised and valued through this involvement. Other guest speakers included:

  • Donnie Maclurcan
  • Pierina Lucchesi - The Smith Family NSW/ACT program manager
  • Dr Cul Lzmir - The Smith Family Head of Participation
  • Tony Wadell - Wesptac
  • Julie Elliot - Westpac
  • Mel Ibrihim - FYA: RU MAD facilitator
  • Ms Quentin Bryce - Governor General
  • Tim Blake - Youth Mentor 2008 participant
  • Simon Menz - Youth Mentor 2008 participant
  • Rachel Farley - Youth Mentor 2008 participant

It has been and overwhelmingly positive experience to hear the participants share their stories and describe the journey they had embarked on. It is clear that the program has had a huge impact beyond the Community Projects. Once student attributed becoming School Captain to the positive personal changes made during the program. Another student was award the school medal for commitment to community service in 2009. Many talked about the 'life long friends' they made. The creation of a tight-knit supportive community is one of the beautiful things that naturally occur in Outward Bound experiences. It was wonderful to also hear of the dreams and plans that the participants have created for their lives. Many identified life and career goals that crystallised either through the Summit or their Community project.

Community Projects

All 25 participants engaged in designing and implementing a Community Project on their return to their community. This year's community projects included:

Youth Issues

  • Support group for siblings of children with disabilities (QLD)
  • Child protection advocacy and support (WA)
  • Drug abuse awareness (NSW)
  • Forum for topical youth issues and ideas (NSW)

Human Rights

  • Homelessness and poverty awareness (SA)
  • Fighting racism (VIC)


  • School based environmental action groups (NSW)


  • Increasing local CFS and SES members (SA)


  • Fundraising for orphanages in Africa (QLD)
  • Fundraising for The Smith Family (VIC)
  • Fundraising for orphanages (NT)