The future of Lions Australia

Lions Australia’s youth programs were front and centre at the recent MD201 Convention on the Gold Coast.

Finals of the Youth of the Year and Leo of the Year competitions took place, providing great entertainment and food for thought for Conventioneers and judges alike.

With Lions Australia’s recent announcement of the Big Audacious Mission (BAM) to build membership to 30,000 by 2030 and 50,000 by 2050, the Leos and Youth of the Year programs have never been more important.


The Leo of the Year program offers young people the opportunity to share and celebrate their passion and commitment to community service, and a platform to voice their opinions on topics close to their heart. 


Leo Committee Chairperson Pam Bennett with the 2023 Leo of the Year Finalists.

Leo Committee Chairperson Pam Bennett says Leos are important pieces in the Lions Australia puzzle.

“Leos are our partners in service. They have chosen to join our organisation and have the same ethics and purposes as Lions and fulfil a real need in the communities in which they serve,” she said.

The final of the 2023 Leo of the Year competition took place on Saturday, April 29th.

The 4 finalists each presented a five-minute speech on topics ranging from community service to outfits.

NSW’s Georgia Bailey, QLD’s Molly Gysberts, VIC’s Clarissa Wong, and WA’s Luke Tammen all presented wonderful speeches.

Luke Tammen won the Public Speaking Award while Georgia Bailey was announced as the 2023 Leo of the Year.

Council Chairperson Steve Boyce presents Leo of the Year 2023 Georgia Bailey with a plaque.

Council Chairperson Steve Boyce presents the 2023 Leo of the Year, Georgia Bailey with a plaque.

Georgia reminded Lions of the value of Leos, particularly when it comes to technology and social media use.

“Leos understand all of this, make use of us,” she said in her speech.

Over the next twelve months, Georgia will visit Lions Clubs across the country with hopes of opening more Leo Clubs.


Youth of the Year

On the other hand, the Youth of the Program encourages and fosters leadership skills in students nearing the end of their schooling years, hoping to bring forth the next generation of outstanding young Australians.

2023 Youth of the Year Finalists.

National Youth of the Year Chairperson PDG Ken Bradford says the program is a great opportunity.

“The experiences and life skills gained by achieving this level of the challenge will, very often, give encouragement to take on projects which may have been considered unattainable,” he said.

The final of the 2023 Youth of the Year competition took place on Monday, May 1st.

The competition looks at competitors’ leadership, sporting and cultural awareness, personality and general knowledge, as well as public speaking.

The six finalists: W1’s Jonah Hanikeri, T1’s Kulani Somarathna, Q1’s Lindsey White, N1’s Frederick Kearney, C2’s Zach Pope, and V2’s Sienna Gladstone, went head to head in the final round of the competition on stage.

Lions Youth of the Year Winner, Fred Kearney delivers his outstanding speech.

Sienna Gladstone, who spoke about domestic violence, was the winner of the public speaking competition

Frederick Kearney from the Armidale School who spoke about how “tough times create tough people” was the overall winner.

Both Fred and Sienna will receive cash prizes when they turn 18 years old.


As Lions begin work towards the first goal of BAM, these youth programs are proving invaluable to the future of the organisation.

You can learn more about Leos here and Youth of the Year here – and watch all the finalist speeches on our YouTube channel.

Leada Blackie awarded Leo of the Year 2022

Leada Blackie of the King Island Leo Club in Lions District T1 has been awarded the title of 2022 Leo of the Year.

“Overall, the benefits I have experienced have come from working closely with other and building strong relationships within the community.” 

Competing on-stage at the Lions National Mini Convention in Melbourne in May 2022, Leada impressed the judges and audience with a presentation based on the words of Eleanor Roosevelt,

“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” .

Leada has been actively involved in her Leo club since joining, holding a variety of roles including President, Secretary and Membership Chairperson.

The Leo of the Year program offers young people the opportunity to share and celebrate their passion and commitment to community service, and a platform to voice their opinions on topics close to their heart.

Over the next 12 months, Leada will travel around Australia visiting Lions Clubs with the goal of inspiring members to open more Leo Clubs.

Leo members compete at a local and state level before each state nominates a finalist to compete on stage at the Lions National Convention.

Participants are awarded points based on the following:

  • Community service involvement (25%)
  • Leadership and contribution to Leos (25%)
  • Knowledge of Leos and Lions (10%)
  • Knowledge of local and world affairs (10%)
  • Impact during interview (10%)
  • Public speaking (20%)


Find out more about the Leo Club program.

Brisbane teenager recognised on global stage as winner of Lions Clubs International Peace Essay Contest

The theme of  the 2019-20 Peace Essay contest was “Peace Through Service” and Year 8 Brisbane student, Joshua Wood has taken home the grand prize. The announcement was made as part of Lions Day with the United Nations.  

The Brisbane Camp Hill Carindale Lions Club sponsored the local contest that gave Joshua the opportunity to participate in this global event and share his words of peace with the world.  

Camp Koala – a lifechanging experience for young people living with Diabetes

Across Australia over 1.3 million people have Diabetes and 283 people are diagnosed every day. For young people, living with Diabetes is challenging, not only physically but also emotionally.  

Diabetes is one of Lions key global focus areas and one of the life changing projects launched recently is Camp Koala.  

The inaugural Camp Koala – Type 1 was successfully held for 7 days from 11-17 April 2021 at YMCA Camp Wyuna in Queenscliff, Victoria. 21 Type 1 diabetic teenagers between 15-18 years old attended the camp and benefited from a range of activities, inspirational speakers and the rare opportunity to connect with other diabetics their own age.  

The camp aims to provide attendees with knowledge and tools to promote healthy nutrition and a positive lifestyle while managing their diabetes.  

There were a a range of fun activities to participate in at the 2021 Camp Koala, including canoeing, bike riding, volleyball, basketball, walking, zip lining, tubing, laser tag and boogie boarding. 

During the camp, the young attendees also had access to one on one time with a diabetes nurse educator and nutritionist. Where it was felt necessary the camper’s own diabetes team were contacted for follow up. Campers voluntarily accessed a joint App call “Happy Bob” which monitored their levels. This App had a capability of private communications to each other and very much aided in accessing diabetes self-management. 

Attendees benefited from hearing from Type 1 and family therapist Joe Solowiejczyk who zoomed in from the USA, dietitian and Type 1 Foundation Board Member Julianne Cuthbert and nutritionist Andrea Balog who gave an insightful talk on nutrition, positive body image and confidence. 

The teens were also taken out to dinner to help gain real-life experience in carb counting and ordering from a menu. Many had never eaten out in a formal environment on their own since diagnosis due to a fear of working out injections and found the dinner extremely informative.  

Most importantly, Camp Koala provides participants with the opportunity to meet other young people who understand the challenges of living with Type 1 Diabetes.  

Participants set up an Instagram support page to keep in touch and left a number of positive messages thanking the Camp Koala team for the experience.  

    “For me, the worst thing about Type1 diabetes is the fact that I couldn’t share my experience with anyone because I would feel like a burden, so I stayed silent and let the disease win over me. Camp Koala changed this, from the word go I walked in and I knew things were different, we each connected on a level which I had never felt before and I felt in control know that there was support and safety in those around me. I just felt that the camp provided me with something that no-one in my day to day life could because these people got it. For me insulin is the control but connection is my cure.”” said Lachie Read after attending Lions Youth Exchange & Camps – Camp koala – Type 1. 

The next Camp Koala will be held from 3-9 July 2022.