Leadership Ballarat: What The Journey So Far Has Meant For Me

6 Oct 2017

The 2017 LBWR group spend time with Opposition Leader Bill Shorten at Parliament House

At the start of this year, I was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to take part in the Leadership Ballarat & Western Region Leaders Forum. I can still remember the night I got the email and how excited I was to get such an incredible opportunity. I’m one of around 25 participants in the program. Many prominent local businesses put a single staff member into the program as a participant each year. As a small-time independent blogger, I wasn’t in a position to have someone sponsor me to do it, so to receive the scholarship was a huge coup for me.

The program runs every year and applications are currently open for the 2018 program.

Fellow LBWR 2017 Participants in conversation with the Governor General, His Excellency General the Honourable. Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd).

The program is broken up into learning days and evenings. The whole program is a process of learning about ourselves and our own leadership and how that can contribute to the things that matter in the program. The whole opening retreat was confronting, encouraging and bonding. It was an opportunity to be critically reflective of ourselves and to work through that process with the other participants, which takes trust and respect. Once we’d established how we would work together as a group, we began the learning sessions where we delved into specific sections of the community.

LBWR 2017 group walks through the memorial list of soldiers at the War Memorial, Canberra

Each learning day is different and focuses on a different topic.  Through each topic, we uncover the facets of our community that are either holding us back or driving us forward. Our first learning session it was shocking to learn just how bad the basic literacy level is of children when they begin school. We meet the people making a difference and learn how they affect change. In a later session on the environment, we learned about the groundbreaking scientific technology of the team at Gekko that would give any business with biological waste the opportunity to return that waste to farming industries as fertiliser.  These two things might seem abstract and unrelated, but throughout the program, you learn these seemingly disconnected things: literacy levels, obesity levels, how a small local winery runs, how big a health risk ladders are to the community, where do tourists come from… And then a few months into the program, someone is talking about funding for universities or why we can’t accept refugees and you understand the ripples of what they are saying. You know the struggle of getting students to finish school in our area, let alone getting them into university and that cuts in that area will have long-reaching social and economic impacts. You understand that while someone is discussing how to keep refugees out, for the last ten years a daughter with her mother have been in this city, desperately trying to bring their family back together as her sisters live out their lives in a refugee camp. You see what she has contributed to the community and that there would be an incredible economic and social value to reuniting that family and that the longer that separation is drawn out, the more costly it becomes for our community.

The 2017 LBWR group sitting in the Senate chamber of Old Parliament House, Canberra

Every program day becomes interconnected, no matter how distant the day about the environment or the day about arts look on paper, you see the ripples.

As part of the program, we had the honour of visiting Canberra, sitting in the Old Parliament House, once the most powerful building in the country. We got to walk the halls of the War Memorial. When we finally visited Spring St, it was the final part of the trifecta of local, state and national government visitation that gave us incredible tools to be champions for the needs of our community.

Not only has the program equipped me to understand how to harness, refine and utilise my own strengths to make a difference, it’s helped me understand how I can make ripples, where those ripples can reach and how to create a society for the future.

If you’ve considered taking part in the LBWR program, I highly recommend it. Applications are currently open until October 13. Find out more here. If you have any questions about the program, I'd be happy to discuss with you, so let me know!

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