Northern Queensland leaders collaborate to tackle local challenges

A group of leaders are committed to working together to address challenges across northern Queensland communities, and driving opportunities and positive change. 

They’re graduates of the Leading Australian Resilient Communities (LARC) program, in which the region spanning from Charters Towers to the Reef is one of ten targeted for challenges endured – the ongoing impacts of COVID, cyclones, climate change and the rising cost of living among them. 

The objective of the program – delivered by the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) and Regional Australia Institute (RAI) – is to bring together current and emerging leaders across the region to further develop their leadership skills and build a network that’s committed to action and outcomes. 

“This is effectively done through a collaborative network of individuals committed and invested in where they live. By combining their skills, knowledge, expertise and even contacts, this is a powerful way to make a real difference,” ARLF chief executive Matt Linnegar explains.  

This will be evident with the group’s diverse backgrounds including health, education, agriculture, academia, indigenous, marine science, renewables and small business. 

RAI CEO Liz Ritchie said the program included place-based multi-day leadership sessions to identify challenges and opportunities. 

“And what underpins these challenges and opportunities using RAI data for the region. This data, along with coaching, gave the group guidance on the practical, community led projects they decided to pursue.” 

These projects were presented at a graduation ceremony last week, focusing on youth crime, community connection and water issues.

Townsville-based engineer Reuben Richardson and consultant Susan Milner are leading the project on youth crime with the impact it’s having on local business and the community. 

“In particular difficulties for employers to attract good quality staff to an area that is being reported as having one of the highest crime rates and quite a dangerous place and how it was negatively impacting businesses,” Susan explains. 

Reuben adds: “We’d like to see Townsville becoming a thriving community that people want to come and work at and live in.”

Townsville-based marine scientist Rachelle Brown and Isabel Bryce, a stakeholder engagement and communications manager from Pallarenda are part of the group exploring issues with Townsville’s water issues. Because the issue is complex, Isabel explains they’re exploring which approach to take. 

“We began to understand that decisions are often made using a narrow criteria and that there’s huge other amounts of information that could be considered and we are really quite interested in not so much from solving the stinky water problem anymore, but in seeing if there’s a way that we can sway decision makers to consider a human dimensions elements in their decision making. So look at the human aspects rather than just technical solutions to problems.” 

Rachelle adds: “The LARC leadership program helped us navigate this issue by giving us more tools to address the problem. It changed our thinking dramatically and how we approached it from the beginning towards the end. It let us know that one person on their own doesn’t have all the answers, it’s really the power of working in a group and bringing diverse mindsets that help us address issues.”

Hannah Camp, a physiotherapist from Georgetown and marine scientist Matt Wilkie of Thuringowa Central are part of the group exploring community connection, starting with themselves through leadership and collaboration. 

“It has led to success because we’ve connected as a group. We’ve learned a lot through that coaching process as well and it’s given us some foundations, I think, as leaders to then build on,” Hannah says. 

Matt adds: “We’re all from diverse backgrounds and yeah it’s just been great experience. And obviously we’ve learned from various other forms of leadership throughout….personally I’m at the start of my journey so learning all this now will hopefully help me in life.”

Media contacts: 

Nicky McMillan     

Communications Coordinator         

Australian Rural Leadership Foundation                                                                        

M: 0439 438 500                                                                                                                                                                                 


Alexandra Macaulay

Senior Communications Manager    

Regional Australia Institute   

M: 0409 652 465        

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