February 2024 Alumni Connect

Welcome to 2024!  Generally, January gives us a bit of breathing space to think and plan about how the year will look! And from where I’m sitting, it’s looking pretty busy!   

But firstly, we are so excited to welcome Lindsay Davies to the Foundation. He joined our team late last year as our new First Nations Engagement Manager and we feel pretty lucky to have him. He was keen to introduce himself…. 

Jingeri Jimbelungs (Hello Friends in Yugambeh Language) 

My name is Lindsay Davies, First Nations Engagement Manager at the ARLF. It’s great to introduce myself to our extensive network of alumni! 

I started with the Foundation in December, and it’s been great to settle in and find my place in the team. I am a proud Kooma man from southwest Queensland, now living on Kombumerri Country (Gold Coast). 

My background is in teaching, having taught high school science and phys ed. For the last two years, I have worked as a First Nations Cultural Educator and Engagement Lead in the tourism and conservation space. 

In my newly formed role, I will lead engagement with stakeholders and participants as a part of the Partnerships team, whilst also leading inclusive design of leadership programs under the Learning team. 

Looking forward to yarning with you further as the year progresses. Feel free to reach out to me via email (lindsayd@rural-leaders.org.au) or LinkedIn. 

Nya nya bu (see you soon), Lindsay.  


Welcome new Alumni 

It was a pleasure to attend the virtual graduation of our latest Mentoring cohort late last year with nearly 60 graduates. As part of the ceremony, mentoring pair Matt Norton and Rob Stafford were interviewed by Coach Maree McPherson. The connection and obvious rapport between the pair helped to clearly showcase the positive and ongoing impacts of the program.  

We welcomed new alumni as part of the graduating group, but it was also great to see large numbers of alumni returning to us to undertake more program opportunities. We so love to see this!   

Here’s one Mentee’s reflection on the program… 

“I just wanted to say a big thank you to Mentoring staff the ARLF team for the opportunity to be involved in the National Mentoring Program. I always looked forward to the weekly meetings with my mentor – it was truly one of the highlights of my week. I have learnt an enormous amount from this mentorship and have gained more confidence in my abilities and leadership.  

I would recommend this program to any young person in the agriculture industry.”    


Launch of the inaugural International Agribusiness Program

We’re so excited to see a cohort travel to Indonesia in May as part of our new International Agri Program. This program is designed for senior Executive leaders who are keen to understand their own leadership styles and gaps, while also being immersed in an international ecosystem. 

Applications are now open.  If you’re interested or you know a colleague or someone in your network who might be, please let them know.   

Check out our website for more information and program costs.  


Drought Program delivery across the country  

We are delivering a heap of programs across the country this year as part of the Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative. If you’re keen to jump back into another program opportunity or know someone in your community or network who’d benefit, check out the map on this page to see what’s happening nationwide.   


The 2024 Churchill Fellowship information session series 

We know many of our Alumni have undertaken a Churchill Fellowship over the years. And if you haven’t undertaken one yet, or don’t much about them, then listen up!    

The Churchill Fellowship scholarship provides a life-changing opportunity to travel overseas for four to eight weeks and learn more about a topic or issue passionate to you. You can do a Churchill Fellowship on any topic and you don’t need an academic qualification to apply. 

Check out a series of eight online sessions during February to learn more.   


‘When Everyone Leads’ e-book special

You know we love our friends at the Kansas Leadership Centre. And I’m sure you’ve heard of their recently released book “When Everyone Leads”. They are currently offering their e-book at a steal for only $3 for a limited time. If you’ve not had a chance to soak this up yet and you’re keen, jump now.     Check out Amazon or Apple.  


‘Just a Farmer’ – feature film tackles mental health in rural Australia   

You may have heard some of the hype around the film “Just a Farmer”, a feature length film set to be released across the Country in March.  

Just a Farmer follows the story of a farming family and community rocked by the loss of a treasured local hero. Writer, producer and actress Leila McDougall hopes that the film will highlight the issue of mental health in rural Australia and encourage people to seek help. This film is largely self-funded by Leila and her husband in their determination to shine the spotlight on this issue. 

And it’s easy to understand their determination. The statistics tell us that a farmer dies by suicide every 10 days and that people in rural Australia are twice as likely to die by suicide.      

We have so many Alumni actively working in the mental health space with a focus on rural Australia. Warren Davies – the Unbreakable Farmer and Steph Schmidt immediately spring to mind. As well as Kate Gunn and her ifarmwell initiative as well as recent ARLP 29 graduate Stu Austin who delivered a series of workshops across QLD and NSW late last year titled “Farmers helping their own”.  

In terms of the ‘Just a Farmer’ movie, I know there’s a crew of current ARLP participants and alumni keen to get behind the film and possibly host local events in support and as an meaningful opportunity for connection.   

Once we know more details on these, we will reach out about events local to you.   

If you’re keen to stay across this film and its launch, follow their Facebook page Just A Farmer – Feature Film.  

Farmers Helping Our Own  ifarmwell Steph Schmidt Warren Davies – The Unbreakable Farmer  


Alumni Events    

There’s clearly quite a bit of activity over the next few months! 

We are keen to take advantage of program delivery across smaller communities and host Alumni gatherings where we can. We have reached out to local alumni already about these events, but if you’ve missed the memo, click the link below for all the details and to RSVP.  You’ll note that some events still need some finalisation. But all dates are locked in.   

If you’re local and free, hope to see you there.  

VIC     Dookie – Thurs 15th Feb  4.30 – 6.30  

NSW   Finley – Mon Feb 12th 4.30 – 6.30  

            Deni – Tues 26th Mar (times TBC)  

SA       Port Augusta – Mon Feb 19th 4.30 – 6.30  

WA Perth – Thurs 22nd Feb 7.15 – 9.30am

TAS      Launceston – Tues 26th March ( times TBC)  


Change Maker Workshops and Alumni Dinners – NSW South Coast   

There’s a couple of two-day transformative workshops being held in the Shoalhaven and Bega regions in late February, with an alumni dinner to be held on the night of the first day in each location.  And we’ve got some pretty special guest speakers coming to share their insights too. 

If you’re keen for the workshop, register here –  

And if you’re keen to attend the dinner, connect with alumni and hear some inspirational words, RSVP via the links below.    

Shoalhaven Alumni Dinner Mon 26th Feb, 7pm – 9pm at Coolangatta Estate  

Guest Speaker – Warren Davies (The Unbreakable Farmer) – one of Australia’s leading rural mental health speakers, and alumni of the Foundation too we are so proud to say!  

Bega Valley ALumni DinnerWed 28th Feb, 7 pm – 9pm at Seahorse Inn Hotel and Villas   

Guest SpeakerCynthia Mahoney is a facilitator, coach, mentor, speaker and author with a passion for personal disruption, neuroscience, positive psychology, courageous conversations, human performance and well-being!  


Cuppa Tea’s at 3pm (well – depends on your time zone!)  

These kick off again in early February as the new year starts to return to normality again after the summer break. 

We are running online afternoon Cuppa’s with cohorts who have completed programs in the last 12 to 18 months for a chance to –  

  • check in with your cohort 
  • connect again with us – we love to know what’s keeping you busy 
  • chat about your leadership journey – successes and challenges    

And we’ll reach out to you – cohort by cohort via email. I hope you can join us.  

Keen for a Cuppa with your cohort?   

If you are keen to connect with your cohort, you don’t have to wait for to work through our long list.  Just let us know. We are happy to reach out to your cohort and invite them to a Zoom call.   We helped ARLP 27 cohort connect late last year for a virtual Xmas catch-up. It was easy to arrange and is a pretty simple way to reconnect. Reach out via alumni@rural-leaders.org.au if you’d like to take up this opportunity. 


What do you want? What do you need?   

We are keen to understand what leadership skills you‘d love to revisit or explore more deeply and how we can potentially help facilitate that.   

We are currently looking at delivering some dispute resolution training for example.   

If you have any thoughts or ideas on what topics or skill building tools are of interest to you, please let us know at alumni@rural-leaders.org.au.  


The Lunch and Learn Webinars are coming!  

We had hoped for a February kick off for these webinars, but it will now be April. We’ve had some feedback and suggestions from alumni which has been so helpful. Now we just need to get moving and lock them it.  Stay tuned!  

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