MORE than 320 people attended the Castle Hill Leadership Program fund-raiser dinner on November 22 at Castle Hill RSL.
NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell was a guest, along with former chief of the Australian Defence Force, General Peter Cosgrove, who gave the keynote address.
During Schoolies Week next year, these year 11 students will walk the 90-kilometre Kokoda Track — the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of World War II — as part of the inaugural Castle Hill leadership program.
But first they will be mentored by some of Australia’s finest leaders including Westpac chief executive Gail Kelly, NSW Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione, NSW Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Bathurst, and former Prime Minister John Howard.
‘‘The age of 18 is an important age; it is the age where for the first time in our life we are in many ways free to make decisions, to do what we want to do, to try something new, and be independent in our choices,’’ program founder, Castle Hill MP Dominic Perrottet, said.
‘‘But let’s face it, the drugs, promiscuity, vandalism and violence that we will see over the next few weeks [during Schoolies Week] is not just a reflection on the young people, it is an indictment on us for not providing attractive alternatives.
‘‘This is why I believe that this program we are launching here tonight is so crucial — it offers young people true freedom.’’
Also there was Charlie Lynn MLC (founder of the Kokoda Adventure Leadership Program and with whom Mr Perrottet walked the Kokoda Track when he was 20).