Monthly update from our Chief Executive

The Australian Rural Leadership Foundation has now graduated over 2,500 rural leaders from its flagship and short leadership courses, better equipping them to lead change in rural Australia.  

Graduates from TRAIL: Emerging Leaders program and the Leading Australian Resilient Communities Pilot Initiative recently joined the alumni network, which has expanded through a collaboration with purpose-aligned organisations and the delivery of regionally based programs in addition to national ones.  

We’ve been actively delivering our programs, with sessions held in various locations such as New Zealand, Charters Towers and Wide Bay Burnett in Queensland, Eurobodalla on the NSW South Coast, three programs in Canberra, as well as Tasmania (in partnership with Tasmanian Leaders). 

Expanding programs: From national to regional delivery

Our expansion of programs from national to regional has enabled us to build social capability and networks in communities and regions, as well as nationally. We’ve accomplished this through our Associate model of design and delivery, and by collaborating with purpose-aligned organisations. 

We were back down the South Coast of NSW recently for the third of four sessions of the Regenerate Eurobodalla leadership program – a partnership with Associate Steve Colman and Mark Spain from Global Learning, and SHASA. The Regenerate Eurobodalla program is one of five community resilience programs aimed at supporting and building resilience in bushfire-impacted communities in NSW and is part of the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery program funded by the Australian and NSW Governments.  Funding for the Regenerate Nambucca Programs was also received from the Minderoo Foundation and GlobalGiving.

The ARLF has also partnered with the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal to boost the capacity and impact of local not-for-profits, starting with place-based leadership programs in the Bega Valley and Shoalhaven. Applications are now open in these regions. 

Building community resilience: Regenerate Eurobodalla and Capital Region

The Regenerate Capital Region initiative, developed in partnership with Associate Karim Haddad, has set out to establish a network of reliable contacts across various geographical boundaries and agencies to enhance the response to potential fire emergencies in the future. This project is in line with the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience, which emphasises the importance of creating community resilience by promoting collective responsibility and empowering individuals and communities to drive change. Enhancing leadership skills at all levels is crucial to drive improvements in disaster response. 

Our regional leadership programs serve as a platform for individuals from various backgrounds within a particular region to come together, explore the challenges confronting their area, and devise their unique approaches to address them. At the heart of our methodology lies the exposure of participants to new situations and concepts that broaden their horizons, challenge their perceptions, and empower them to effect change. We equip them with the confidence, courage, and tools to translate their ideas into tangible actions and inspire others to join them on this journey. 

ARLP Applications opening soon for Course 31

I would like to extend a special mention to the outstanding leaders of ARLP Course 29. Recently, I had the pleasure of joining them for five days in Sydney and New Zealand for their third session, where we explored Networks and Affiliation. It was a privilege to share some powerful experiences with this diverse group, including meeting with Maori leaders and the team from Leadership New Zealand. The participants also had the opportunity to gain insights from leaders in the NZ dairy industry, the Christchurch community, and beyond. 

The overseas component of this program remains a rich and challenging experience that provides a unique opportunity for participants to challenge their assumptions, interact authentically with others, and gain a fresh perspective on leadership. I would like to express my gratitude to ARLF Fellow and Associate Tanya Lehmann and team member Gemma Rostron for their hard work and dedication in making this experience possible. 

In June, we will begin accepting applications for the Australian Rural Leadership Program Course 31, our flagship program that will commence in May 2024. We also offer a range of short national and regional programs that provide an excellent pathway to an ARLF Fellowship. If you’re interested, please submit an expression of interest through our website. ARLF Fellows are also encouraged to recommend outstanding leaders they know to apply for Course 31. 

National Alliance for Regionalisation: ARLF endorses Regionalisation Ambition 2032

In the previous month, we participated in the launch of the National Alliance for Regionalisation, which is convened by the Regional Australia Institute. The Alliance is a coalition of various peak bodies and for-purpose organisations that share a common interest in Regional Australia. As a member of the Alliance, the ARLF gave its endorsement to the following statement: We support the Regionalisation Ambition 2032 and the opportunity to Rebalance the Nation because we care about regional Australia and the almost 9.5 million people that call it home. Planning for a stronger Australia means planning for a prosperous, inclusive and resilient regional Australia. 

The ARLF endorses the Regionalisation Ambition 2032 and the opportunity to Rebalance the Nation as part of its vision to contribute to a thriving rural, regional, and remote Australia, and calls on its regional network of alumni to collaborate towards its realisation. 

ARLF Board: Two new directors to join in November

Finally, we are pleased to announce that two new directors, Mena Waller and John Maher, have joined the ARLF board this month to fill casual vacancies. They will also stand for election at the November AGM.  

Mena Waller, a graduate of ARLP Course 26, currently serves as the Queensland Director for 54 Reasons, Australia’s leading child rights organization. Mena’s unique perspectives and passion for people-centred, sustainable, and collaborative approaches to systems change are highly anticipated.  

John Maher brings with him a wealth of experience in the Australian agribusiness sector, having served as Chair, Managing Director, CEO, Director, and Senior Adviser across a range of organizations such as Ruralco Holdings Ltd, Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, and AWN Food & Fibre Holdings. With his deep lived leadership experience and commercial acumen, John will undoubtedly provide constructive challenges to our for-purpose organisation.  

We eagerly look forward to the contributions of Mena and John. 

Matt Linnegar, Chief Executive

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