YLP day inspires Australia's future leaders

15 May 2012
Guest speaker Rick Newnham catches up with Oakey High School students

High school students from across the Darling Downs made the trip to the University of Southern Queensland recently to develop an invaluable set of leadership skills through the Faculty of Education’s Youth Leadership Program (YLP).

Guest speaker Rick Newnham, who co-founded the Left Right Think-Tank and is a former leader of the Australian Army Cadets, shared advice with about 80 students, who also participated in a series of leadership workshops throughout the day.

Mr Newnham, 23, told the students his inspiring leadership story and provided some candid advice about the mistakes he made and the strategies he used to overcome hurdles along the way.

He said one of the keys to being a good leader was being able to reframe particular problems to allow people to approach them differently.

‘When a problem seems too big for someone they will switch off, disengage,’ Mr Newnham explained.

‘The role of a leader is to reframe that problem for them and to help them re-engage.’

Mr Newnham went on to explain how he and a friend built the Left Right Think-Tank from the ground up, giving valuable advice about the qualities a leader should have.

It was advice that was well-received by the students, many of whom asked probing questions in a bid to absorb as much information as possible.

Downlands College Year 11 student Matt Chong Nee, who is a member of his school’s Student Representative Council, was clearly impressed.

‘I liked that he wasn’t lazy,’ Matt said.

‘He worked out what he wanted to achieve and he went out and actually did it.’

Mr Newnham was full of praise for the Faculty of Education’s Youth Leadership Program concept, saying he hoped his story could help to inspire the students to take on leadership roles of their own.

‘It was just a few years ago that I went through what these guys are going through now,’ he said.

‘Something like the Youth Leadership Program is great because it gives the students an opportunity to talk to each other and collaborate across their different schools.’

YLP attracts students in Years 9 to 12 and is one of a number of annual community engagement activities hosted by the Faculty of Education.

The organising committee for YLP consists of USQ staff, local teachers and USQ student leaders from the residential colleges, who were involved in running workshops throughout the day.

Schools that participated in the YLP day included Toowoomba State High School, Pittsworth State High School, Oakey State High School, Harristown State High School, Nanango State High School, Downlands College, Fairholme College, Lockyer District High School and St Ursula’s College.

Contact Details:
Jim Campbell, USQ Media, +617 4631 2977,

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