Local pair is leading the way
TWO district women have joined 25 dynamic community leaders as part of the 2016 Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program.
Tracey Bowen and Fiona Bradshaw were welcomed to the program at a recent dinner function in Newbridge before heading off on the weekend for the first program retreat at Maldon.
Ms Bowen said she fell into the role after her employer, Mandalay Resources, asked her to seek out a community leader the company could sponsor for the program.
‘‘I was asking around the community who people thought we could nominate and they kept saying that I was really a leader in the community and perhaps I should think about joining the program myself,’’ she said.
‘‘After coming back to the office and discussing it with (sustainability manager) Adam, he agreed that I was a good choice as a candidate, so I decided to have a go.’’
Ms Bowen said she felt honoured to be chosen to take part in the program and represent a community she feels blessed to be a part of.
‘‘My passion is this community and hopefully the program will give me the tools I need to help make a difference and help the community to embrace change,’’ she said.
Change could be difficult for communities and individuals to accept, but Ms Bowen said since change was unavoidable small communities had to look to what they could to ensure those changes were positive and for the benefit of the community.
‘‘The community is very concerned about some issues including isolation, substance abuse, mental health, keeping our kids in school and more opportunities, especially employment, for our kids, but we cannot keep relying on the government to fix everything.
‘‘More people need to roll their sleeves up because Heathcote has already proven it can achieve remarkable things when everyone pitches in.
‘‘People don’t necessarily realise what their skills are, but if we all pitch in just one per cent each, then we can make a huge difference.”
The 27 program participants are all ages and come from a diverse range of backgrounds, industries, life experiences and world views.
What they have in common is a commitment to building their skills, insights and networks to be more effective in their work, their industries and communities.
The 10-month leadership program runs over 25 program days during which participants travel around the region and to Melbourne and Canberra, hearing from community leaders, key organisations, and learning about the diverse issues and opportunities facing our region, and how to make an effective contribution and impact.
Welcoming participants at the dinner functions was keynote speaker and well-known Bendigo local and community leader, Margot Spalding.
Margot shared stories of her own leadership journey from starting her now hugely successful furniture business, Jimmy Possum, out of her shed in Harcourt, to winning Telstra Australian Business Woman of the year in 2016, to leading Bendigo’s recent response to the anti-Mosque protesters through iBelieve Bendigo.
Margot is a down to earth, funny, pragmatic and wise presenter and she inspired the audience with her personal story, her energy and her words.
‘‘You cannot do life on your own,’’ she said.
‘‘Surround yourself with people – the right people – you are who you are because of the people you are with and the choices you make.’’
Margot also received lots of nods from the room when she shared her belief that “you are advantaged in life if you grow up in regional and rural Australia.”
The annual leadership program, facilitated by Community Leadership Loddon Murray (CLLM), has been successfully developing leaders for vibrant and sustainable communities across central and north-west Victoria since 1998, with more than 390 graduates across the region undertak- ing a range of community projects and leadership roles.
Participants representing industries such as agriculture, business, health, community, government, natural resource management, and education apply for this opportunity and are selected on the basis of their commitment to community, their industry and the region. There was a huge response to the call for applicants late last year and the highly competitive process has resulted in an outstanding group of individuals ready to take their work and volunteering to the next level.
For more information about the program, and to follow their journey, please see www.cllm.org.au
Over two dozen dynamic community leaders including Heathcote’s Tracey Bowen and Fiona Bradshaw were welcomed into the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program last week.
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