Local leaders driving positive change
A program designed to bolster leadership across regional Australia wrapped up in Rutherglen recently, with 20 current and emerging leaders, including four locals, graduating on Friday, February 10.
The program, Leading Australian Resilient Communities (LARC) is co-designed by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) and Regional Australia Institute (RAI). It aims to support emerging leaders in Australia’s regional communities to meet challenges and collectively drive the positive changes they want to see.
The program delivered a combination of place-based multi-day leadership sessions to identify challenges, opportunities and what underpins them; as well as webinars; group coaching; and support for practical, community led projects.
Four locals, Nathan Bibby ( Yarrawonga), Angelique Bennett (Savernake), Sally Hughes (Corowa) and Lisa Turner (Rutherglen), participated in the program along with other regional leaders from Albury-Wodonga, Wagga, Seymour, and Shepparton.
At the graduation held at De Bortoli Rutherglen Estate on Friday, February 10, the graduates addressed local issues such as mental health and social media impact on youth; youth engagement and education; bridging the country/city divide especially digital connectivity; and lifestyle security focusing on housing, food and water.
Former Savernake principal Angelique Bennett addressed youth engagement and education in her group presentation on Friday. Ms Bennett praised the program saying it
helped her to get back into the community following the closure of the Savernake Public School last year.
“The opportunity to connect with other regional leaders in a way that helps the community was a real draw card for me,” she said.
“The program was focused on resilience and response to change. Growing up and living on a farm, I know what being resilient means.
“I feel I’ve really been pushed to actively listen. Too often we hear what people saying but we don’t actually listen. “We are also very quick to try and identify a problem and offer solutions to that single problem, rather than really get into the nuts and bolts of what is the issue and hand of deep and complex issues.
“With the cohort, because we all come from diverse industries and experiences, the nuggets you get from one conversation is something tat you carry with you for the rest of your life. We don’t do cross-border very often so in
that respect, it was great to be able to have a program which allows individuals to work together from the rivers to the plains.”
Representative from Yarrawonga, Nathan Bibby was also a part of the group that addressed youth engagement and education in his group presentation with Mr Bibby also praising the program saying it has helped him to learn and identify opportunities to adapt or improve programs that he is currently a part of.
“As Executive Officer of Goulburn Murray Community Leadership, the LARC program provided me opportunity for further learning and identify opportunities to adapt or improve programs such as the Fairley Leadership Program,” Mr Bibby said.
“I worked in the project group focussed on youth engagement. I was keen to work with a project group focussing on an area which I have previous experience with and any project outcomes and learnings I will probably be able
to transfer into my role with developing young people in the Yarrawonga Football Club.
“This was also a project I had invested interest in as I used to be coordinator of youth services at Hobsons Bay Council for five years and ran a youth leadership program with the Western Bulldogs before that.
“LARC was just a great opportunity to connect with local community people and the uniqueness of the program was that it was delivered across the borders.
“It was great to learn how things are done differently to potentially work together and share resources.”
LARC is delivered as part of the Australian Government’s Building Resilient Regional Leaders Initiative (Pilot) grant.