Moses Nelliman, a Torres Strait Island man based in north Queensland, is one of the first graduates of the Milparanga Leadership Program.
“I had applied for the course in 2018 but was unsuccessful which was a blow at the time, because a friend and I had applied together – he got in and I didn’t,” Moses said.
“I got some feedback from an ARLF alumni and I applied again and got in to the 2019 intake. But as much as I wanted it, the timing wasn’t great because just before the course we’d suffered a one in 100-year flood in Townsville,” he said.
“In the weeks leading up to the first part of the program I’d been spending days and nights cleaning up the houses of friends and family who had been seriously affected by the flooding. I was so fatigued and quite shell-shocked when I went from disaster zone to a motel in Perth, but in a way it put things in to perspective for me – once I got settled it was better than I expected.”
With a resume including nearly 20 years in the Queensland Police Service, Moses has been working for the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships (DATSIP) in his home town of Townsville for the past two years, with a focus on finding employment for Indigenous jobseekers.
“I simply wanted to have a real impact and do more for my community,” he said.
“While the timing proved to be hard initially, being accepted into the Milparanga Leadership Program 12 months into my role with DATSIP was a critical turning point in my career.
“I had done Indigenous leadership programs before but Milparanga was different. We spent time on country and I’d not done that before and I found it to be very freeing for me.
“That was paired with some feelings that were also confronting insofar as we were all a long way from home and some of the personalities in the group were much bigger than others. It took a bit to settle the dust sometimes, but every experience was worthy.
“I’ve had leadership thrust on me previously and I had to learn on the run so I felt I knew what made a good effective leader but the Milparanga program proved to me that leadership is many different attributes and regardless of your experience, you never stop learning.
Moses said he’s learnt to better recognise leadership qualities in others also.
“That’s incredibly applicable for the clients I’m working with each day. At the moment I’m coordinating 17-24 year old’s on a construction project and I can see different types of leadership qualities in each of them that I can help them channel for the greater good of the team – leaders don’t always have to lead from the front.
Moses said that realisation has helped him reassess how best he can serve his community.
“I’ve come to see that there were a lot of activities that I was involved in for the sake of it without having any tangible impact or delivering something helpful,” he said.
“I’ve lived more years than I have left. It’s up to me to better channel my knowledge and be affective. Not as a leader specifically, but as someone who can see where my skills are needed and apply myself to that task for the greater good. It’s exciting to have the power of that knowledge and put it in to action.”