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Building leadership capability to fight fires and lead community resilience and recovery

6 October 2022

Despite the current wet Spring, the bushfire season is upon us. It’s inevitable memories of the Black Summer bushfires will be front of mind.  

“The Orroral Valley fire of January 2020, following three years of the most intense drought, affected us differently this time,” recalls landcarer and farmer Catherine Kiernan.

“Watching and waiting as the fire burned around us was stressful, particularly as night after night the fire advanced over Mt Tennant glowing like city lights.”

It’s timely that applications are open for the Regenerate Capital Region program that aims to support and build resilience in bushfire impacted communities in the ACT and NSW.

Funded by the Australian Government as part of the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery program, Regenerate Capital Region is targeting those on the frontline of the bushfire response, from emergency first responders and government agencies to rural landholders and landcarers.

The program is delivered by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) that has a solid 30-year record of leadership development. The outcome will have 48 selected leaders – from diverse backgrounds and experience – collaborate and align their knowledge, skills, expertise and efforts to respond to future bushfire emergencies, and build long term community resilience.

Field officer with the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Toneya Jenkins is one of those landcarers.

“I work on the front line in protecting the natural and cultural heritage of our national parks. I want to make a difference in my community so that the national parks can be enjoyed by generations to come.”

The Australian Rural Leadership Foundation’s Chief Executive Matt Linnegar said improving leadership at all levels is needed to drive improvements in disaster response.

“Our regional leadership development programs bring a diverse group of people from within one region together, immersing them in challenges facing their region and helping them to discover their own strategies,” he said.

Regenerate Capital Region is essentially about getting community leaders together to build a strong leadership network that has a shared understanding and trust in one another and can collaborate to solve complex problems.

“When future fire emergencies occur, this network will be invaluable. They won’t be just names and positions; they’ll know and trust each other and be able to work through the challenges in front of them.”

Chief Officer with the ACT Rural Fire Service Rohan Scott adds: “A focus on assisting the community with recovery and strengthening resilience by building social infrastructure was a key learning from the 2019-20 fire season.

“The ACT-RFS looks forward to partnering with the ARLF and other agencies, community organisations and businesses across Canberra to implement and make the program a success.”

The program is free and the learning is experiential – a powerful and effective approach where participants learn through challenges and enquiry.

“The core of what we do is exposing people to situations and ideas that will enable them to see a bigger picture, a different perspective and ultimately have the courage to put their ideas into action, bringing others with them,” the ARLF’s Matt Linnegar explains.

The Regenerate Capital Region program funds 24 places across two programs and is delivered in two face-to-face residential sessions. Choose between Program 1 (19-24 March & 25-27 August 2023) or Program 2 (16-21 April 2023 & 15-17 September 2023).

Eight days of your time for a lifetime of impact. Apply now https://bit.ly/3BTPORA. Applications close 31 October.