Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge


At Penrith RSL, we are committed to upholding the values and traditions of our service men and women and we understand that in order to keep these traditions alive in our culture, each generation must be educated on the sacrifices of the generations that came before them.

We also believe that it is a part of our responsibility to prepare the next generation with the skills and tools that they will need in order to be effective leaders in the future. For these reasons our club and our sub-Branch are strong supporters of the Kokoda Youth Leadership Challenge.

The program, which was started by former Australian Politician and Army Major Charlie Lynn and is coordinated by The RSL & Services Association and Kokoda Australia, has been running successfully for many years and Penrith RSL Club has been participating since 2011.

Every year, we see the young people that we send on the trek come back more mature, more compassionate and with a much more confident sense of themselves and their place in the community.  In 2016, the club and sub-Branch jointly sponsored five young local people to go on the trek, the most of any one club on any given trek.

Each of our 2016 participants were selected from a pool of applicants based on their personal essay application and their interview. They were selected because they displayed the character and leadership traits that we felt represented our servicemen and women. They were all physically fit, keen for a challenge, open minded, intelligent, respectful and they each displayed a determined confidence that impressed our committee.

Upon returning from their journey, the participants reported that the experience was life changing. They expressed concerns over the environmental state of the trail, the welfare and support of the Papua New Guinea locals and the lack of education on the Kokoda campaign in the school curriculum.  They were humbled by the wealth and opportunities that they enjoy in comparison to the local people of Papua New Guinea and they were deeply moved by the sacrifices and bravery of the Australian troops. They returned tougher than when they left, ready to face life’s challenges.

“We support this program because you can see the benefit in it for these young people. They return stronger and more confident than before. Plus they are being educated about Australian Military history and will become the advocates of those traditions to their friends, family and future children. That’s how the RSL will live on.”

Mr Neel Chand, CEO Penrith RSL Club.

This program has enabled our club to build stronger ties with the community and local business while increasing our relevance with young people who will be future members, ambassadors and become the ‘custodians’ of the Anzac and Kokoda traditions.

In 2017, we are sponsoring another two young locals to take on the challenge and we look forward to hearing about their experience upon their return. They will be sharing their experience with us at our November sub-Branch Meeting. All community members are welcome to attend.