To inspire and equip young people to become servant leaders

Becoming a good leader requires more than an impressive resume and a strong personality

There must be something in you that justifies the loyalty and commitment of those who follow. This speaks more to your character than it does to your abilities or achievements. As Members of Parliament, we have found just how challenging it is to be good leaders. It is easy to begin with great idealism but to become disillusioned and cynical in the face of adversities and disappointments. That’s why our faith and values are so important: they are the inner resources that we draw from to become the right kind of leader and to keep our original vision alive. Our faith and values shape our sense of purpose and determine how we treat others. They act as a defence against our own self-centredness and the cynicism this tends to produce in followers. Jesus of Nazareth introduced the concept of servant leadership when he said to his followers that, unlike the leaders of the day who “lorded it over” the people, “it will not be so with you. Instead the greatest among you must be the servant of all.” We have adopted this idea of servant leadership as the broad theme of the Forum. Being a servant leader cuts across the grain of personal pride and ego and none of us find it easy. In political life we often feel that we fail as much as we succeed! Nonetheless, it is so important to come back to these “first principles”. The National Student Leadership Forum is an opportunity for the emerging generation to discuss the significance of faith and values as foundations for effective leadership. We do not intend for this discussion to overtly religious or sectarian and we value the participation of young people from a diversity of intellectual, cultural, and religious backgrounds. Each year we have young adults attend from many different backgrounds- Catholic, Jewish, Protestant, Muslim and Buddhist and a large number with no religious background at all. We have found that this diversity enriches our time together enormously.

My small group experience was inspiring. I genuinely felt loved and respected as a person. I know that whatever I said and however truthful I was I would be encouraged.

– Ally Odgers, VIC

The Forum is designed as a four-day program held at the end of a sitting week in Canberra.

It is made up a variety of activities beginning late Thursday morning and concluding before lunch on Sunday. Accommodation is at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra, the city’s premier hotel. While the specific program varies from year to year, it generally includes a day spent in Parliament House, Keynote addresses from the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, Keynote addresses by other inspiring men and women from varying walks of life, seminar groups run by MP’s and community leaders, small group discussions, a local community service project, a sport and recreation afternoon, and an end of Forum dance night! One dimension of the Forum program that is always significant is the time spent in small groups. They provide delegates with an opportunity to make close friendships that often endure long after returning home. These like-minded friendships often become a peer support network that helps to reinforce the things learned at the Forum. Small Groups are often challenging and require people to be willing to participate and learn to communicate with others who may think differently. Sometimes the most challenging small groups produce the most enduring relationships. Please note: the Forum has been designed as an integrated four-day experience. It is not possible to only participate for sections of it. If conflicting commitments preclude you from attending the entire Forum, it may be better to seek nomination in another year.

The cost per student for NSLF is $1580 (plus GST).


The Forum Secretariat can provide sponsorship materials to assist delegates in raising the funds necessary to attend. We also have a generous bursary program available to which successful delegates can apply. The Forum has been designed as a first-class experience that will be long remembered by all who attend. Consequently, students stay at the Hyatt Canberra, the city’s premier hotel. Delegate costs cover all expenses while in Canberra. The cost of running both the Forum and Alumni initiatives is considerable and not fully covered by student fees. We work closely with private companies, individuals and other organisations to make this unique event possible. We would like to thank our corporate and private sponsors for their ongoing generosity. If you would like more information on making a donation to the work of the Forum, please contact us. The National Student Leadership Forum is privately funded and receives no financial assistance from State or Federal Governments.