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Tuesday, 30 October 2012
Page: 12649

Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (21:59): I rise to speak today on a fine legacy of my predecessor, the Hon. Alan Cadman OAM, and that is the Mitchell Youth Leadership Forum, established by him some 10 years ago as a visionary new initiative for youth in the Mitchell electorate. The Mitchell Youth Leadership Forum is a 2½-day live-in program for year 11 students, strongly based around the three core values of service to others, integrity and courage. I have had the privilege of being the president of this organisation for five years. The forum is a great chance for year 11 students to come together and share their thoughts and ideas on how to be great, inspirational leaders in their schools and in our community. Each year every high school in my district—public and private—sends 10 children of year 11 age to this forum, and each year they come away having had a very special experience with each other and with leadership, which produces a better quality person.

Earlier this year, I was delighted to host a 10th anniversary dinner to honour this incredible milestone in excellence in leadership in the Mitchell electorate. The celebration brought together over 200 past and present students, leaders, speakers, sponsors, principals, volunteers and committee members. In 2002, it is key to note, only 95 students attended the inaugural forum, and now we have up to 160 each year attending. This year we had about 130, from 14 schools across my electorate, who were ably led by 55 young leaders.

I would like to thank all those who have come and spoken to the forum from 2002 onwards, who have given their time and imparted knowledge to the next generation of leaders. I would like to mention all of our sponsors, who have so generously contributed over many years. For 10 years, B Braun, based in my electorate, has been a visionary on-board sponsor of Fuelhouse, the underlying fundraising vehicle for the Mitchell Youth Leadership Forum. I want to mention Nature's Sunshine Australia, and particularly Stephen Webster, the founder of this great community-minded business in my electorate. I also want to mention Parker Hannifin; PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia, and the Norwest office in particular; Shelton's Quality Meats; Smiling Bakery; Allan Drew Funerals; and Redeemer Baptist School, who faithfully donate all their school vehicles every year for the forum.

I would particularly like to note the following schools: Baulkham Hills High School, Castle Hill High School, Crestwood High School, Evans High School, Galston High School, Gilroy Catholic College, Kellyville High School, Model Farms High School, Muirfield High School, Northholm Grammar School, Northmead High School, Redeemer Baptist School, Redfield College, Tangara School for Girls, The King's School, Rouse Hill Anglican College and William Clarke College.

I want to thank the principals who had the vision 10 years ago to get on board with this great initiative and the principals of today who continue their support of this excellent service for our community. Each year, part of the program is that these young leaders engage in a community service act. This year's community service was at our local Anglican Retirement Village at Castle Hill, a huge campus where students spent quality time with very elderly and frail residents and worked to complete outstanding jobs and things that were long overdue for the residents of the Anglican Retirement Village.

The Mitchell Youth Leadership Forum is so special because of the voluntary effort of many leaders. The great system that produces this is that each year we have a body of leaders who have come through the forum who voluntarily return to train, to lead small groups and to continue the tradition of the Mitchell Youth Leadership Forum. We have a great committee of veterans, some from 10 years ago and many from today, who form our board, which I chair. I want to make particular mention of Veronica Quinn, our CEO; Alain Vella; Ged Lewis; Ken Shaw; Lukasz Swiatek; Matt Puleo; Steve Edwards; Terry Swan; and Jan Cox. These outstanding individuals do a great job for the youth of Mitchell.

There is really nothing like the Mitchell Youth Leadership Forum in school curriculums today, which takes year 11 students out of their normal environment, puts them in groups of their peers, whom they have never met before, and takes away their mobile phones and other communications to the outside world so that they can focus, in a small group environment, on leadership and the values of service, integrity and courage. It is a great program. We have great success every year. All the students who participate come away with a greater understanding of themselves and the values that make a great leader.

I want to pay a particular tribute to the Hon. Alan Cadman for his great vision in putting this forward, for having the ability to make it last and extend it to other electorates, including Gilmore and Macquarie—and I believe it is soon to be in Chifley and other areas of New South Wales. I encourage members of this House to have a forum in their own electorates. There is nothing better they could do, because it is an outstanding institution.