Leadership critical in ensuring stronger regions

Peak industry bodies, corporates, government and the philanthropic sector view leadership as critical in ensuring stronger regions.

They’ve again invested in leaders from across the country to participate in the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP). It’s the 31st course of the Australian Rural Leadership Foundation’s national flagship program that’s iconic for its unique and life changing experience.

The ARLP remains the longest and most in-depth experiential leadership development program in the country and is renowned for developing leaders who go on to drive change and impact at a regional, state, national and international level. This leadership is critical if our regions are to adapt to a changing world and take greater control of their own future.

Leadership vital to dairy industry in addressing critical issues

Gardiner Foundation CEO Allan Cameron who attended the recent launch of course 31 says workforce retention is one such issue. He says the foundation’s invested in ARLP scholarships for over a decade.

“Leadership is a vital component of the dairy industry, particularly in addressing critical issues such as workforce attraction, retention and housing. Strong community leaders are essential for the prosperity of our communities. Gardiner Foundation is recognised for investing in the development of leadership skills of people within the dairy sector, thereby enhancing both industry and community leadership capacity.

“Gardiner Foundation is committed to advancing this further by offering opportunities for real-world experiential leadership in programs like ARLP. Continuous learning is a hallmark of successful individuals, and our investments will enable dairy professionals and community members to acquire the necessary skills and experiences to lead with confidence.”

Gardiner Foundation CEO Allan Cameron with participant Kirsten Diprose of Caramut, Victoria

Investing in leadership development helps industry to advance

Australian Lot Feeders’ Association’s General Manager Madie Hamilton says alumni they’ve invested in over 20 years continue to provide valuable leadership within the industry.

“It’s super important for us at the Australian Lot Feeders’ Association, together with Meat and Livestock Australia, to invest in our people for the future, and through programs like the ARLP to upskill our people in terms of leadership development, because the future is our people. The feedlot industry really relies on its people to progress and advance and therefore investing in leadership skills so that we can have really robust, great leadership into the future.

“It’s a unique program that brings lots of different people together. It’s not just agribusiness and so it allows our leaders to draw upon other industries, not just our own, which is really important.”

ALFA general manager Madie Hamilton with participant Greg Zillman of Wandoan, Queensland

This latest cohort of 28 includes backgrounds and experience in community, disability, First Nations and multicultural engagement; remote pharmacy and First Nations health including traditional bush medicine; mental health; grain, livestock and food supply chains; export trading; sustainable farming systems; biosecurity; biodiversity and climate change; cotton seed distribution; ag research and consulting; agri-food and tourism; nutraceuticals and integrated veterinary rehabilitation; regional business and economic development; international diplomacy; the seafood industry and abalone diving; and communications, ag podcasting and broadcasting. 

These participants, who’ve recently returned from the first session, were pushed well outside their comfort zone. ARLF chief executive Matt Linnegar explains it’s here where the transformation begins as they transition to a learning and growth zone.

“Our experiential learning approach means participants learn by doing, not in classrooms. Adventure and challenge are at the heart of experiential learning, in pushing participants out of their comfort zone. Through lived experience, our leaders connect, reflect and learn in a real-life context.

“Over the next 15 months, these leaders will embark on the most unique learning experience involving multiple sessions including four immersive across the country and internationally. The ARLP is designed in line with proven learning methods and responsive to the needs of the group and rural, remote and regional Australia. Participants develop communication and deep listening skills to fully appreciate and understand the diversity of multiple perspectives, and an awareness of self and others.

“They’ll develop their leadership in a collective environment and form a valuable and broad resource of expertise with an enormous capacity to lead, inspire and create change. And they’ll be adept at mobilising their networks and communities of influence to address issues and seize opportunities.”

Investing in leadership to help our regions thrive

A sentiment shared by the People First Bank Foundation committed to leadership development in regional Queensland.  

“It’s really important to develop leadership in our rural areas because they are such great areas to live in. We’re obviously supporting a (scholarship) grant in Toowoomba, a great Queensland country city, great people, great population. Anything we can do to actually help that population, help that city become where it should be as one of Australian leading cities would be great,” says Chief Executive Paul Olds.  

“I think they’re really unique programs at the ARLF. Probably the number one benefit is a diverse group of participants getting together, learning off each other, and then taking those skills and experiences back in the communities where they live.”

People First Bank Foundation chief executive Paul Olds with participant Matt Norton of Westbrook, Queensland

Bold decisions and big conversations the future of leadership

Skills which AgriFutures Australia (a funding partner since the ARLP began 31 years ago) also sees as critical in ensuring stronger regions.

“I think leadership skills involving people management, being comfortable being uncomfortable, making bold decisions and having big conversations is going to be really important to the future of leadership,” shares AgriFutures Manager of Capacity Building Sheridan Ingold.

“Agrifutures Australia is committed to building the future prosperity of Australian rural communities and industries and there’s no better way than building the capacity of these leaders in the rural area and ARLP do this beautifully…and this is why we continue to support this program.”

AgriFutures Australia’s Manager of Capacity Building Sheridan Ingold (far right) and Abbey O’Callaghan (far left) with participants (l-r): Selena Sylvester of Nundle NSW, and Cressida Cains of Robertson NSW.

*The ARLF has opened applications for ARLP Course 32. If you’re ready to step up, or know someone who is, or to sponsor a scholarship, visit https://rural-leaders.org.au/australian-rural-leadership-program/ to find out more.

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