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The Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership Summit 2020

"Young People Leading with Optimism Through the Pandemic and Beyond”

The Australian Governor General at the Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership Summit

"I'm an optimist by nature. So when I was going through my career, learning, as you do as a young officer, and then growing up and progressing through the ranks, I'm looking for the positive in situations. I'm looking for the positive in people."

Speaking to students in an extra session of The Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership  Summit sponsored by The Centre forOptimism in December 2020, The Governor-General and Mrs Linda Hurley made everyone feel like royalty.  The Governor General said, "I will say what I got to say now, not because I'm dealing with the Center for Optimism. I have said it in many, many, many of my speeches as Governor-General and as Governor of New South Wales, that I'm an optimist by nature.

Video of the 2020 Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership Summit

The Third Nelson Mandela Youth Leadership Summit 2020 was  an exciting and engaging event for young and old alike .

Due to COVID-19 restrictions in the usual venue city of Shepparton, the event was online and open to young and old alike globally.  Shorter speeches, break-outs for the participants to share their reflections, and sufficient time for Q&A and student replies made for a superb event.

The Nelson Mandela Regional Youth Leadership Summit was the brainchild of Future Voices and the creation of schools and educational institutions in the Shepparton area including the Greater Shepparton Secondary CollegeGoulburn Valley GrammerShepparton Christian CollegeNotre Dame College Shepparton and La Trobe University.   

In 2020, it has been fostered and supported by The Gandhi Experiment's Margaret Hepworth and The Centre for Optimism's Victor Perton.

The Nelson Mandela Regional Youth Leadership Summit brings together a diverse youth population - refugee youth, migrant youth and Australian-born youth to create a group of connected future leaders of the region and Australia.  In 2020,  youth from around Australia and the world and around the world joined in.

Future Voices Incorporated is a not for profit charity established in 2016, working with the diverse communities in Shepparton, Victoria to meet employability needs in the multicultural community.  Its most exciting project other than the Summit itself is the Shepparton Nelson Mandela Learning Centre Australia Project.

Any Questions on How to Get Involved for 2021?

The Centre for Optimism is a partner of the Nelson Mandela Regional Youth Leadership Summit Victoria run by Future Voices and The Gandhi Experiment.  Our COO Victor Perton has presented our classic workshop on the "How and Why of Optimism" at the first two summits.  We are supporting the event by providing the registration system and zoom meeting.

The Gandhi Experiment's Margaret Hepworth moderated the event.  Margaret inspires  the students, teachers and other speakers were lifted to higher levels of energy, passion and leadership by her instinctive engagement with youth.


Karyn Sobels, President at Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry spoke on being optimistic in business and being the optimistic leader of 15,000 businesses who are members of The Chamber.

Dr Amanda Caples, Victoria's Lead Scientist, spoke about optimistic leadership in science, innovation, invention and, of course, in medicine and the pandemic.

Michael F. Kleine, USA Consul General, Melbourne

Andrew Cumpston, State Director of the Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade

Ken Murray, Campus Principal at the Wanganui campus of the Greater Shepparton Secondary College.  At the end of 2020, Ken will be retiring after 40 years of service - what a story of youth leadership he will tell!

Margaret Hepworth, The Gandhi Experiment

Victor Perton, Chief Optimism Officer, The Centre for Optimism

Sessions and Topics

Charisma: How to be a realistic and infectiously optimistic young leader in these Bleak Times?

Diplomacy needs Young Leaders like You.

Science and Innovation needs Young Leaders like You

Business needs Young Leaders like You

Leadership Messages for the Summiteers

Marthinus Van Schalkwyk

Michael Rowland

Aaron Mashano

Leon Logothetis

Ananda, Camilla and Michael Bartura

Larissa Falla

Seema Abdullah

Chester Elton

Andrew Crisp

Steve Gross

John Cortese

Ross McPherson

Matthew Walker

Elizabeth Capp

Natalie Foeng

Jenny Boymal

David Stannard

Dr Apollo Nsubuga Kyobe

Wendy Lovell

Rebecca Woolstencroft

Rob Priestly

Luke Kerr

David Tennant

Noirin Mosley

Geoff Dobson

Michael Burge OAM

Quotable Quotes

Nelson Mandela

"I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed towards the sun, one’s feet moving forward."

USA Consul-General Michael Kleine

"With regard to optimism, I think about Viktor Frankl, who survived Nazi concentration camps in large part by choosing to be optimistic. As he wrote in his classic work, Man’s Search for Meaning, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” If Dr. Frankl could remain optimistic through what he experienced, there’s no reason why we all can’t choose to be optimistic as well. It’s how we all find meaning in life, and makes us better individually and as members of the wider community."

Rashidi Sumaili

"What makes an optimist is the understanding that there’s not a permanent problem or enemy in one’s life. I am an optimist and dream positively with conviction and focus on the feeling of hope that strengthens my physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing."

Margaret Hepworth

"Optimism and hope are crucial elements in shifting us, especially our young people, from a place of overwhelm and despair to a place of positive and mindful action."

Participants, Partners and Sponsors

Future Voices

The Nelson Mandela Learning Project

The Gandhi Experiment:  is not about the man himself, it is about the essence of his message:  Non-violence as a conscious choice; Satyagraha, my truth or soul-force; and getting off our backsides to take action about those things we know need to change. Where ‘hope in action’ and ‘moving from apathy to action’ become our maxims.

Symphony 7:  Symphony 7's mission is to positively impact the lives of more than 1billion people by 2030.

The Centre for Optimism: We ask "what makes you optimistic?" amd foster "realistic and infectiously optimistic leadership.

The Honourable Wendy Lovell

Why Come?  Young People told us Why!


  • Mr. Rashidi Sumaili, CEO of Future Voices. Inc. and the Shepparton Nelson Mandela Learning Centre Australia Project. +61 422 347 237
  • Victor Perton, COO of The Centre for Optimism +61 417 217 241

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