Canberra Case Study



Twenty seven community leaders were surprised to find themselves in the midst of Canberra’s leadership spill last month as they learned, challenged and advocated on issues impacting regional Victorians as part of LEAD Loddon Murray’s Community Leadership Program.

LEAD Loddon Murray Executive Officer Leah Sertori said last month’s annual Canberra study tour aimed to educate, inspire and challenge participants about politics, leadership and their own communities.

“What an extraordinary time to be in Canberra. Our week was full of rich learning experiences, both inspiring and deeply challenging.

“We met with leaders we aspire to emulate and on the other hand we were reminded of the impact when leaders don’t meet our expectations,” Ms Sertori said.

As Peter Dutton counted his numbers, LMCLP held passionate discussions at the Murray Darling Basin Authority focussed on water management and balancing the needs of farming communities against the environment, while vital crop pest management strategies took centre stage at CSIRO.

Participants explored the challenges facing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as they spoke with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies and Reconciliation Australia, and visited the Aboriginal tent embassy.

A highlight included meeting local federal members including Member for Mallee and newly appointed Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister, Andrew Broad, Member for Bendigo, Lisa Chesters, and Member for Murray, Damien Drum as well as Barnaby Joyce and Bridget McKenzie.

Claire Billing from Swan Hill said the experience challenged her opinions.

“My eyes were opened and my opinions changed. Our local members encouraged us to step up to the plate and get further involved in our communities through volunteering and politics,” Ms Billing said.

After bumping into Bill Shorten and Karl Stefanovic on the lawns of Parliament House the group wound their way through the maze of parliamentary halls to hear from Independent Member for Indi, Cathy McGowan, who passionately advocated for participants to be active in their community and encourage other’s by tapping them on the shoulder.

At what was to be Malcolm Turnbull’s last question time as Prime Minister in the House of Representatives and as the study tour drew to a close, participants reflected on if similar behaviour would be accepted in their own communities and set goals to enhance and strengthen the region.

The Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program aims to develop creative, courageous, confident community leaders by increasing their awareness and understanding of regional issues, resources and networks.

Community members from across the region including Bendigo, Cohuna, Castlemaine, Donald, Watchem, Echuca, Pyramid Hill,  Swan Hill and St Arnaud are taking part in this year’s Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program.

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