As a former livestock farmer who has spent the latter part of his career supporting the wellbeing and planning capacity of primary producers, Malcolm Cock knows that an investment in one person can have a far-reaching impact. Malcolm is a donor to the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) and a mentor on the Drought Resilience Leaders Mentoring and National Mentoring programs. He is at home giving his time, experience and most of all a listening ear.
“The mentoring program is really good – it’s something I’ve learned a lot from. I’ve seen the self-development and communication skills that participants develop. The trainers are excellent, and even though I’ve been involved as a mentor for three or four years, I still do the training sessions.” Malcolm said.
He made his first donation to the ARLF when he received $500 for his involvement in one of the mentoring components – choosing to perform a “simple” act of generosity.
“I considered I was donating my time anyway, so I returned the money,” he said. “It was very simple, it’s a very worthwhile program, and I was happy to be contributing to such a positive outcome.”
Giving for long-term value
Malcolm has continued to include the ARLF among the causes he chooses to support financially, because it is about developing the capacity for self-driven impact.
“When I donate, I’m not for giving just short-term relief. I’m there to assist people to develop themselves, their farm business, or whatever it may be. It’s about leadership and self-help.”
Malcolm also finds huge satisfaction in contributing through his knowledge, experience and wisdom. He credits being supported and mentored to create a long-term life plan, with turning his farming operation into a profitable business. It also helped him take the steps to plan a life away from the farm, but one still enmeshed in agriculture.
“That’s why I’m giving back, as that process made such a change to our lives.” He says. “And that’s why I give to programs that contribute to people making their own positive changes.”
Malcolm’s role as a farm consultant has delivered extension and mentoring programs across agricultural sectors and communities. He has found that life planning and risk management are the hardest and least talked about, but most rewarding things people involved in farming can do.
Shaping plans for a better future
The two biggest threats to the stability and longevity of a farm business, Malcolm explains, are things that affect the physical and mental health of farmers, followed by the fallout of partnership and relationship breakdown.
“I think we’re getting better at valuing wellbeing and mental health. Through mentoring, I have worked with people under huge stress, which flows on to their families and the community,” Malcolm says.
“Helping people to look outside their comfort zones so they can plan for their future and make the most of their lives is important.”
Currently, Malcolm is developing a course called ‘positive ageing on-farm’, to assist the ageing farmer and all generations to plan for life on and beyond the farm and see a future for themselves and their partners. He is also continuing his work as a mentor.
“People make change, and if good leaders can better enthuse and guide people to make good decisions and undertake good actions, the community and environment will be better for it.” He says.
Malcolm Cock is an alum of the Drought Resilience Leaders Mentoring Program and mentor in the Helping Regional Communities Prepare for Drought Initiative National Mentoring Program. Both programs have received funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund.