The year ahead

Rural, regional and remote Australia is as diverse as it is expansive – as are the leadership challenges.  We have seen time and time again that regional communities are no strangers to disruption and challenge. Just as they are responding they are also adapting and preparing for the next challenge, the next drought, the next flood, the next industry crisis, the next political, environmental or social impact. And whilst there is often a long journey ahead to repair and rebuild – presently from natural disasters – attention must be on the future to build resilience in the systems and the networks to better weather the storms that will undoubtedly roll in again.

Improved leadership practice and collaborative leadership networks play a critical role in bouncing forward from disruption and challenge. The ARLF contributed to these networks and practice in 2022, with 900 graduates better placed to play a part in their communities, sectors and organisations across regional Australia.

In 2023, our recurring national programs and new suite of regional resilience programs will continue to grow these influential networks that will allow people from diverse backgrounds and locations to learn from and support each other. 

As this newsletter reaches your inbox, our first cohort of the Milparanga International Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Leadership program is arriving in New Zealand. For 9 days, 11 leaders (graduates of previous Milparanga programs) will participate in a part cultural immersion, part leadership development program that explores the contrasts between mainstream and cultural governance, and exchange knowledge with local Maori people. This program will challenge participants to become more involved in influencing change in Indigenous leadership at a local, national and global level. 

Also this week, 19 regional leaders (across the NSW/VIC Riverine Plains) will graduate in Rutherglen from the first of 10 regional programs being delivered through the Leading Australian Resilient Communities Program (LARC). The combined resources and expertise of the ARLF, Regional Australia Institute, and lead delivery partners Leadership Victoria, Leadership WA, Leaders Institute of South Australia, and Tasmanian Leaders represent a unique consortium of expertise in developing leadership for resilient communities. Involving a combination of community-based future forums, 5-day leadership development programs, webinars, coaching and mentoring, up to 26 leaders in each region have received scholarships to take part in this national leadership program. 

In two weeks’ time, the LARC NSW Northern Rivers program will conclude with other regions following suite through until June. This program will culminate with two graduates representing their regions at a national alumni networking event in Canberra on 1 August. This event is an opportunity to connect nationally, to share regional experiences and present community projects that will see these networks connected into the future. Whilst severe weather events often take the focus, there are many other challenges that require a local, connected and influential network of leaders to tackle. We applaud all participants for their involvement. 

The first six months is also an exciting time for our flagship program, the ARLP – the fullest expression of experiential learning that we offer. As I shared late last year, this program has undergone a significant review and I look forward to sharing insights into the experiences of participants and the ARLF team as planning progresses toward the first session for Course 30 in June.  

All this work, plus much more in our 2023 program schedule could not be achieved without collaboration with our growing network of ARLF Associates who assist in the design and delivery of many of our programs and services. We recently welcomed alumnus Briony Arnold, facilitator Clare Moss and leadership expert Richard Dent to join 15 others in this network. Briony is based in WA and is an experienced educator, consultant, facilitator and project coordinator, specialising in Aboriginal projects for the empowerment of Aboriginal people. Briony is currently supporting the delivery of the Milparanga programs including the WA session for Established leaders in May. Richard is an International Leadership Development specialist based in Melbourne. 

For 30 years, the ARLF’s work has highlighted the role of leadership in contributing to a thriving rural, regional and remote Australia. The impact of our work and the realisation of our vision is captured in our latest Impact Report launched last October. If you haven’t had a read yet, I encourage you to do so. 

Finally, I encourage you to sign up for the National Mentoring Program before 3 April. It’s purpose is to bring rural Australians with different experiences together to build leadership capacity and resilience in rural Australia. Sharing experiences, challenges, and ideas in a trusted, non-judgmental mentoring relationship is a fantastic way to accelerate personal and professional development. I know many of our alumni will ‘pay it forward’ through this program. Sign up here

Warm regards, Matt 

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