Making a Difference

By Megan Woodward, Rural Room Media Stringer

For current and aspiring leaders in regional and rural Australia, holding a title can be daunting yet necessary, both as an individual and as a member of a collective community.

To support those looking to lead in their own communities, the ARLF delivered the Leadership for our Regions pilot program in Queensland’s Wide Bay Burnett region in 2019 in partnership with the Regional Australia Institute.

Funded by the Australian Government Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communities, the eight-day, two-session intensive program brought together more than 20 locals from different industries and walks of life – but with the same driving ambition to make their region the best it can be through developing  their own skills, and learning how to lead as part of a network.

Meet May – the Psychologist

“Even though I’d started my business and I sit on local health committees, I was still seeking the skills and connections to know what leadership was. I guess I was really searching for something to help me test my own skills and connect with other people that were also thinking that way – and I absolutely found it with the Leadership for our Regions program.”

Psychologist, small business owner and married mother of one – May Chi has called Hervey Bay home for six years after growing up on the Gold Coast and studying in Brisbane.

Signing up to the intensive course made sense to her from a business perspective but unravelled a deep sense of connection to her community she hadn’t expected.

“When I walked into the Maryborough RSL for the very first meeting, the first person I met was a bloke who grew cucumbers and I was thinking what have I done?” May laughed.

“Then I saw that the local Deputy Mayor was there too, and I felt incredibly curious about how it was going to all work and how we would ever actually work together,” she said.

“It didn’t take too long to feel that sense of shared identity and purpose to make it all much less daunting.

“Even the people I might have not liked in that room or people I wouldn’t have chosen to spend time with ordinarily, I know now that I would still be supported if I needed something from them, and vice versa. It so important to have that to build a community up – but also your own self-worth and self-confidence too.”

Read Case Study and meet Darren, the Deputy Mayor; Tanya, the local neighbourhood CEO; and Scott, the Director.

“My tolerance is somewhere it simply didn’t exist before. That has an exponential flow on impact to the people around me, how I lead, how I choose to work alongside other leaders.” Darren Everard, ARLF Fellow
Leadership for our Regions 2019