As November 2023 marked the end of Rob Dulhunty’s service on the ARLF’s Board of Directors, his tenure is a testament to dynamic leadership and contributions. We talked to him and Board Chair Rick Sawers about highlights, reflections and what the future holds for a leader ready to shift and make way for renewal.
Joining the board in November 2015, Rob brought with him a wealth of experience in leadership and advisory roles, notably in the regional, state, and national space, while managing his family’s rural enterprises at Nant Pastoral Co. His commitment to environmental stewardship and community development is evident through his extensive involvement with Landcare New South Wales, the National Landcare Network, and various other community-oriented roles. His dedication earned him the Gerald Carnie Memorial Award in 2019, a testament to his influential presence in rural, regional and remote communities.
Board Chair Rick Sawers credits Rob’s critical role on the board to his vast agricultural business expertise, leadership and innovation in community and industry, significant government connections in New South Wales, and deep involvement in renewable energy and rural education:
“Rob joined the ARLF board not long before me, as part of an initiative to induct new skills into the board’s governance. He contributed broadly, his efforts leading to governance improvements, including constitutional changes and enhanced decision-making quality. He also initiated the board’s fundraising committee, which led to the creation of a full-time fundraising staff member, significantly impacting the ARLF’s growth over the past years.”
An instrumental leader during challenging times
Rob’s professional contributions are matched by his good humour, energy, and care, which have positively impacted the board and staff. During the COVID pandemic, his leadership and commitment were particularly instrumental in guiding ARLF through times of crisis.
“COVID posed a significant challenge for the ARLF, and Rob’s leadership and commitment played a crucial role in our response, notably in adapting the business model to incorporate both placed-based and online methodologies,” said Rick.
“I look forward to Rob’s continued leadership in rural, regional and remote Australia, especially in the renewable energy and education areas he is currently involved in and have no doubt he will step up and be first in line for any future challenges where he can add value. I also wish Rob great future success as he returns to focus more energy on his farming activities and thank him for all he has brought to the ARLF and favouring us with his time and energy.”
Reflecting on his time on the ARLF’s board, Rob also highlights its evolution into a professional, skills-based entity, especially during the challenging period of the pandemic:
“Being part of a very dynamic and cohesive team that has stewarded the ARLF’s growth that is fit for purpose for contemporary rural, regional, and remote Australia is a remarkable achievement considering the massive challenges confronted through COVID.”
Gratitude looking back and ahead
To his fellow board members, Rob expresses deep gratitude, recognising the privilege of working alongside knowledgeable and passionate individuals. His experience on the board was not just a leadership role but a journey of mutual learning and growth:
“It’s been a privilege to serve alongside so many wonderful people who bring so much knowledge, experience and passion into the room – it’s not often you get the opportunity to work with people of such high calibre. It’s also not surprising that the ARLF attracts such wonderful people considering the amazing work they do throughout Australia. I’ve loved my time working with you all and have learned a lot from each and every one of you. Thank you.”
Looking ahead, Rob is mostly ready to pivot back to family, farm life and getting back on a horse:
“After 35 years of volunteering my time to community organisations, not for profits, and various volunteer boards, management committees, and advisory panel roles, I’m looking forward to getting my teeth back into farm life. For example, I look forward to now having enough time to get back on a horse!”
Aside from the farm business, he remains actively involved in representing community interests in regionally based renewable energy projects, as an Honorary Life Member of Landcare New South Wales and a company member of an educational institution that funds bursaries and scholarships for rural, regional and remote students.
Making room for leadership renewal
His departure is more than a personal transition; it’s an opportunity for new energy and ideas that underscored the necessity of continuous evolution in leadership:
“The reality is that creating space allows new people to step up into leadership roles that you’ve occupied. You have totransition out of the role to allow renewal and take on more of a mentoring or stewardship approach to those things that you’re interested in and have been involved in. In other words, you need the new blood, ideas and passion to keep organisations vibrant and relevant.”
To current and future partners and supports of the ARLF and people considering a program, Rob shares a message:
“Believe in the impact you’re creating – because it’s real! It’s impossible to measure and sometimes intangible – but it’s significant. The fabric of rural, regional, and remote Australia is rich, diverse, and incredibly invaluable – it’s the fundamental foundation for creating a bright future for all who live and work outside our major urban areas. We all need to continue to provide investment and make contributions to that fabric in any way that we are able.”
As we bid farewell to Rob, his legacy within the ARLF and beyond remains lasting. His commitment to rural, regional, and remote communities, his vision for sustainable agriculture, and his mentorship to emerging leaders have left an enduring mark.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Rob for his years of dedicated service and wish him all the best in his future endeavours. His guidance and wisdom will continue to inspire us as we move forward, fostering strong and resilient leadership for Australia’s rural communities.
Rob Dulhunty joined the Board of Directors in November 2015. He brings extensive experience in leadership and advisory roles in the regional space, whilst also being Managing Director of his family’s rural enterprises Nant Pastoral Co Pty Ltd. Rob has been Chair of Landcare New South Wales from 2011-2018, whilst also serving as a Director of the National Landcare Network. Rob’s Landcare roots extend back to 1989 and include his roles as Chair of Furracabad Landcare Group, Chair of the Glen Innes Natural Resources Advisory Committee (GLENRAC), Chair and Founding Member of the New England and North West Landcare Network Chairs, and Vice-Chairman and a Founding member of Landcare NSW, from 2006-2011. During this time he was also NSW Joint Chair of the Landcare LLS Joint Management Committee, a member of the advisory panel for the Commissioner of Natural Resources advising the NSW Minister for Primary Industries on the formation of Local Land Services, and a member of the New South Wales Office of Environment and Heritage Ministerial Roundtable, in an advisory role to Minister for the Environment. Rob is a Honorary Life Member of Landcare NSW and received the highest honour in the Landcare community when awarded the Gerald Carnie Memorial Award in 2019. Rob was also Chair of the Winifred West Schools Foundation and is a member of the Winifred West Schools Limited.