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The next 30 years

27 September 2022

Our monthly column from Chief Executive Matt Linnegar.

As we draw closer to celebrating 30 years of our organisation and its impact on October 26, we also reflect on its history. We ponder where we started, where we’ve gone, and what our future looks like in the context of the world today and tomorrow.

Our founders built the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation (ARLF) upon the flagship Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP). To this day, it remains the fullest expression of our experiential learning approach.

Over time we developed more programs to complement our suite of national programs. Far from initial fears that these new programs might negatively impact interest in the ARLP, they provided additional and different opportunities to develop leadership. They also became a pathway for future ARLP participants. 

We will always value the significant benefits of bringing a diverse group of people from different places together in a program like the ARLP or our other national programs. To realise our vision of thriving rural, regional, and remote Australia, however, we needed more people practising leadership in more places. 

To achieve this, we continued to diversify our program offerings, most recently expanding to regionally based and focused programs. These programs are an opportunity for people to develop leadership networks across regional community clusters. Together they are equipped to influence sustainable and positive futures for and from within their region.

Early indicators of positive impacts of the place-based approach are starting to show in our Drought Resilience Leaders and Regenerate programs. In our impact report later this year, we look forward to uncovering these and the positive effects of diversification overall. 

One might say our diversification is our very own method of adaption to the changing context of our world and society. Over the past two years, our team, in collaboration with alumni, partners and sponsors, have completed a significant amount of work to challenge and improve our national programs. Our Milparanga program, for example, is expanding to provide First Nations people with the networks to navigate current opportunities and challenges. Rising cohort sizes demonstrate that we’re matching demand in the market.

Always conscious of providing a contemporary experience that responds to the changing rural, regional and remote Australia we find ourselves in, we are excited for the future of leadership development and its collective impact. What might leadership development providing the best chance of positively impacting rural, regional and remote Australia look like from 2023 onwards? As we continue exposing people to opposing views and foreign places, drawing on the power of our natural world whilst challenging with purpose and support as needed, we look forward to providing the most extensive and in-depth experiential leadership development programs in the country.