A memo from our CEO: June 2024

With our network of alumni rapidly approaching 3,000 people across the country, we often ask ourselves the question as to how we can enhance that relationship – and indeed what a healthy relationship between the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation and our network of alumni should look like? Of course, there is no ‘right’ answer to this question and perhaps your own experience of different networks will vary. 

Play it forward

So we do what we can and in fact much work has transpired in recent months to focus on the areas we think we can strengthen this relationship (more on that later!). In terms of the nature of the relationship, its important to highlight how we, as the ARLF, see ourselves. In the first instance we create opportunities for individuals and cohorts of individuals to develop in shared learning environments. Importantly this means that we raise funds (through various channels) to create the development opportunities rather than being a source of funding in our own right. We are not only a For-purpose organisation but also a registered charity. Critically, and given feedback from multiple funders and would-be funders, it is essential that we can demonstrate that those that we have provided an opportunity for in turn, demonstrate their support to the ARLF. 

Thankfully our alumni give back or pay it forward in many ways. They volunteer as speakers, as interview panelists, turn up to events and spend time with current participants among other things. The past month has seen two groups of alumni give back in new ways. 

Giving back

A huge thank you to those alums who participated in the Regional Creative Industries Leadership Action Initiative. This was a first for the ARLF and follows conversations I had with many of you a few years ago based on a model where diverse leaders across our alumni network gather around a critical challenge/opportunity facing rural, regional and remote Australia. This model also works on the basis that participating alumni have their costs covered while also donating any payment they received back to the ARLF – thank you to all who were part of this experience and gave back generously. 

Another huge shout out to the irrepressible Donna Digby and her walking partners for participating in the Leadership on Larapinta Fundraising Walk – raising funds to support an ARLP scholarship to be awarded to a candidate from Central Australia. Thank you to Donna and her fellow ARLF alum trekers Ellen Smith (ARLP27), Eileen Breen (ARLP30), Natalie Somerville (ARLP30 ), Nicole Walsh (LARC), Rayleen Brown (TRAIL), Trudi Bartlett Rice, (ARLP27) and Wendy Agar (National Mentoring Program), as well as fellow regional leaders Sean Rice and Max Fonte.

Tim Fairfax Family Foundation scholarship recipients Nicole Walsh (C31), Donna Digby (C27), Eileen Breen (C30) and Trudi Bartlett-Rice (C27) a top Mt Sonder, or Rwetyepme, in the MacDonnell Ranges on the Leadership on Larapinta Fundraising Walk.

You too can help

I realise not everyone has the capacity to give up two days for a leadership action initiative, or mount a community fundraising event as Donna Digby is with the Larapinta Walk. What I do encourage to do (if you haven’t already) is to donate to the ARLF to assist us in our vital work. This can be through a general donation or a donation to a specific purpose like the Larapinta Walk or through a future leadership action initiative or similar. 

In short, fundraising is vital to the ARLF, our mission and impact and donor support elevates leadership impact to another level and it unlocks and mobilises leadership development opportunities for rural, regional and remote leaders. 

We benefit from the loyal support of a small number of philanthropic foundations and individuals and the support of our alumni is equally important. 

Thank those of you who make a monthly gift or an annual gift in response to our EOFY and Christmas fundraising appeals. 

I look forward to sharing more with you soon on further strengthening our relationship. 

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