The Geelong Kokoda Youth Program engages young people from every state secondary and many of the private secondary schools in the Geelong region, and we help them work through the challenges they are facing in their lives.

The young people selected for Geelong Kokoda Youth Program may have a disconnection from their education or facing other challenges that may include mental health struggles, homelessness, drug/alcohol dependencies, anti-social behaviour, family issues, amongst others.

Up to 24 at-risk young people are selected to undertake this intensive year long program which involves personal development, fitness, health, diet and most important role modelling with stable and genuine support.

The young people participate in 20 weeks of physical training along with program mentors from local business and government organisations to at the end walk the 96km Kokoda Trek in Papua New Guinea.

The trek also educates the students about the campaign in which the Australian soldiers partook during World War II, motivated by the Kokoda pillars – Courage, Endurance, Mateship, Sacrifice.


The Geelong Kokoda Youth Program concept begun in 2012 and officially started in 2013. The first year saw the program commence with the first 10 students. So far 150 young people have completed the program in the 12 years since its conception.

The program commences in February of every year and whilst the formalities end in December after we walk the Kokoda Track there is no END DATE to the program. The young people can keep in contact with the group as long as they would like after the yearly program concludes. Very often previous young people turn up to events, training, and other occasions in order to have ongoing participation, with the last few years past students have returned and participated in the program again as mentors. Young people in the very first program still remain in contact with us – continuing the ongoing legacy.


The Geelong Kokoda Youth Program has changed my outlook on life and given me motivation to achieve my goals. Being pushed to your physical limits and being challenged so hard mentally gave me strength I never knew I had. Also seeing how happy the locals in PNG were with so little made me appreciate and be grateful for what I have every single day.

The program helped me realise that I was capable and a lot stronger than I thought I was. It helped me develop a healthier mindset and made me want to strive forward always. The program also taught me that whatever life throws at me I can get through it.

The program had a massive impact on my life, positively of course. It changed my view on life in many ways and taught me a lot about myself. I have formed great relationships that I will forever cherish and be grateful for. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the program, I would have never believed in myself the way I do now. It has been 2, nearly 3 years since I completed the track but the support from people in my group has never stopped. Some days I will hit a low point but I look back at how far I have come and remember anything is possible and that I will get through any rough patch in life because I am stronger than ever.

I definitely believe the GKYP changed my life. It helped me discover who I was and helped me overcome my fears. I’m very lucky to have the amazing opportunity as it has completely changed my life from being in an abusive household and homeless to now fully independent with my own job and house. Developing friendships with the sponsors and fellow youths was very rewarding and gave me a circle of support I knew I could lean on if ever needed.

The Geelong Kokoda Youth Program changed my life for the better and gave me a whole different perspective on life. They gave me hope and a reason when I was struggling to find one.