A new chapter of the ARLP has begun!
Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting the participants of ARLP Course 30 as they embarked on their leadership experience. This marked a significant milestone for the program, serving as a pivotal moment in our 30th year. It symbolised the introduction of the revamped Session 1: Discovery and Awareness, which represents a fresh and innovative approach to ARLP design and delivery.
The commencement of Course 30 was accompanied by a Welcome to Country and Smoking ceremony led by Aunty Barb and Djiriba Waagura. It brought together a diverse group of 29 participants, scholarship funding partners, ARLF patrons, board members, and staff, bidding them farewell on their maiden voyage as a unified group. The overarching theme of leadership for this session revolves around discovery and awareness or in other words, “Who are you, how do you choose to show up in the world and how do you connect with those around you?”
It is worth reflecting on the significance of having a diverse cohort of participants representing various sectors, geographies, and cultural backgrounds. This diversity is a cornerstone of ARLF programs, making them truly unique and important for several reasons. Firstly, it creates an inclusive learning environment where participants can gain valuable insights from each other’s diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds. This fosters broadened horizons, challenges assumptions, and exposes individuals to new ways of thinking and doing things.
Secondly, a diverse participant group fosters stronger networks and relationships across sectors, industries, and communities. By breaking down silos, it promotes a more connected and collaborative rural Australia
Thirdly, the diversity of participants ensures that the ARLP remains relevant and responsive to the needs and challenges of rural Australia. By bringing together individuals with different experiences and perspectives, the program gains a deeper understanding of the complex issues facing rural communities, enabling the development of effective solutions.
The ARLP, in fact ARLF program overall, are truly unique in this aspect and a reason we attract support from organisations and government, and other mission-aligned collaborators with similar values.
The ARLP embraces an experiential learning approach, deliberately providing limited information about destinations and activities prior to the program’s commencement. This sense of creating uncertainty allows for adventure to occur and can take a participant out of their comfort zone into their growth or stretch zone where the learning can be most powerful. While this may be exhilarating for some, others may experience moments of chaos based on their DiSC personality profile.
During the initial days of Course 30, the group embarked on a sailing expedition to Kiama aboard the Soren Larsen and into the NSW Moreton National Park. This creative and unique element exemplifies the depth of the program’s new design. Traditionally, the first session has always included adventure, physical and emotional challenges, pushing participants out of their comfort zones. It requires them to adapt to the presented challenges as both individuals and as a cohesive group. Notably, all participants and facilitators find themselves in the same situation, metaphorically speaking, reinforcing the concept of being “in the same boat.” This intense and accelerated process facilitates rapid relationship-building and learning. Course 30 marks a new phase in which this methodology will be further tested and refined.
Leadership itself entails navigating unfamiliar territories, confronting challenges, and making difficult decisions. By embracing discomfort, leaders open themselves up to continuous growth and learning. They willingly step outside their comfort zones, embrace new experiences, and actively seek opportunities to expand their knowledge, skills, and perspectives.
In this session, participants will engage in real learning experiences, outside the traditional classroom style, to develop their leadership skills, behaviours, practices, and networks. The goal is to contribute to the positive change and impact they want to see in their organisations, industries, and communities across rural Australia. Throughout this 12-day session, they will focus on various aspects of leadership, such as demonstrating personal commitment, self-awareness, adaptability to change, and the ability to inspire and unite others.
The ability to thrive in uncertain and uncomfortable situations is crucial for effective leadership. Change is inevitable, and leaders who are comfortable with the uncomfortable can quickly adapt, adjust strategies, and inspire confidence in their teams. They demonstrate agility by embracing ambiguity, taking calculated risks, and finding innovative solutions to complex problems.
The Discovery and Awareness session of the ARLP learning framework is impactful because it creates an environment away from the pressures and distractions of daily life. Participants are immersed in isolation, allowing for focused challenges and the support of others going through a similar experience. Additionally, the incorporation of immersion on country and engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people adds a unique dimension to the learning process.
As the participants of Course 30 embark on their Session 1 experience, I eagerly await their return this weekend. I anticipate seeing their faces as they arrive back at camp and sharing in the joys and tribulations of their first ARLP session.
I would like to express my gratitude to the long-term and enduring support of many, including our funding partners and alumni who have been with us throughout the three decades. I also extend my thanks to our patrons, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove, Dr. Jackie Huggins AM, John Fairfax AO, Tim Fairfax AC and Gina Fairfax AC, for their attendance at the launch. A special acknowledgment goes to the ARLF/ARLP Course 30 project team, led by Simone Carroll-Germech, for their dedicated efforts in collaboration with our new learning providers Valley Outdoors and First Nations mob Djiriba Waagura.
In other news, we recently welcomed new alumni to our network from the LARC QLD, VIC, and WA regional programs, as well as the Milparanga and Australian Agribusiness Leadership Programs. With final learning sessions held across the country, we continue to build an unparalleled, diverse network of changemakers invested in the future prosperity and sustainability of rural Australia.
We also celebrate the addition of Dr Jackie Huggins AM as a new ARLF patron and you can read more about Jackie here.
I would like to acknowledge the valuable contributions of ARLF team members who have recently departed or will be departing the Foundation in the coming weeks. Thank you to Melinda Murnane, Catherine McGufficke, Bec Wilde, Hayley Dawson, Kas Al-Shehari, Emily Pillow, and Janelle Ruggeri for their dedication. A warm welcome goes to Gourav Mittal and Rochelle Di Cristo who have joined our team as well.
In the past month, we have been engaged in various important activities, including the AgriFutures Leadership Intensive in Wagga, CEO Summit planning, ARLP Significant Other Webinar, and the 6th Webinar in the LARC Series: Cultivating Connections | Networks, contacts and the power of alumni which you can catch up here.
As Course 30 participants embark on their journey of self-discovery and defining how they choose to show up in the world, I invite you to ponder the same question. Take a moment to reflect on reconnecting with your authentic self, revisiting your values, strengths, passions, and purpose.
By knowing oneself, you can ensure that your actions, decisions, and contributions in leadership align with your authentic self.
Chief Executive, Australian Rural Leadership Foundation