Article submitted by Rob Cook - Chair District Youth Programmes
This year’s Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) was held on 9-14 December at Rawson Village. The new and improved 6-day programme was completed by 20 participants, and they all achieved a lot in their personal growth and improving their skills.
The extended time of the conference – which brought its length of time up to equivalent with every other District in Australia – allowed the participants to get much more out of RYLA than our previous 2-day camps permitted.
On the final day everyone shared their experiences which really demonstrated the benefits of the longer programme. The participants spoke about their newfound confidence and self-worth, the strong connections they had built with each other when they were strangers previously, and the new skills they had obtained. The overall feeling among the group was one of amazement and pleasure at what they had achieved, and the supportive network they had built for themselves, as they embark on their leadership journey.
Just some of the guest speakers at the RYLA conference were the motivation and self-promotion expert and former District Conference guest speaker, Lisa McInnes-Smith, the leader of RYLA Oceania and former Rotary International Convention guest speaker, Rebecca Fry, the public speaking expert, Brett Cousins, and former decathlon champion and motivational speaker, Steve Cain. The participants learnt skills such as goal setting, marketing yourself, impromptu and public speaking, leadership techniques and styles, project development, body language, values, mental health first aid and more.
There was also great Rotary representation at RYLA. The Rotary projects showcase gave the participants ideas for future projects, which included End Trachoma, Disaster Aid, Dream Cricket, and more. The participants’ surprise project, which they had to plan and implement for by themselves, was organising dinner and entertainment for the District Governor’s visit to RYLA. This Rotary presence gave the participants great exposure to Rotary’s benefits and the importance of recognising their sponsor clubs.
By participating in RYLA, each of the participants also have the opportunity to achieve a Certificate IV in Business from Swinburne University – another great innovation of this year’s programme. To complete some of the requirements of the Certificate IV, the participants will need to spend some time volunteering and guest speaking at their sponsoring Rotary clubs, giving great ongoing contact between the sponsor clubs and their participants.
Well done to everyone involved in delivering RYLA, but particularly Nigel Cousins for chairing the organising committee.
We are hoping for more involvement from each club going forward, so if you are interested in being part of the RYLA organising committee, or if you have participants that would be interested in next year’s programme, please contact:
RYLA Chair Nigel Cousins at 
or the
District Youth Programmes Chair, Robert Cook at