Vibrant Communities 2017


Written by 2017 Participants


Participants of the Loddon Murray Community Leadership Program (LMCLP) 2017 spent the weekend of March 26 and 27 in Swan Hill discovering how individuals and organisations contribute to a vibrant community.

Sunday’s program focused on using different forms of media effectively, responsibly and forming relationships in your own local towns with media resources.

Participants appreciated being welcomed to community radio station SMART FM (99.1) and hearing about how it is run by volunteers and how they keep the radio station modern and vibrant.  One or two participants even had a chance to practice their media skills briefly on air!

Cassandra Klabbers from Smart FM then joined a panel of local community media experts which also included Felicia Chalmers (ex-editor of the Guardian newspaper), and Paul Dillon from Mallee Rising. They discussed how participants can use print, radio or digital technologies to connect with and celebrate their regional communities.  “One of the key things the local media can do to help promote positivity and build local pride” said Felicia Chalmers.

Community Leadership Loddon Murray’s Executive Officer Julie Slater then shared her expertise on traditional and emerging media styles, explaining that “confidence (in using the media): is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you”.

A tour of the Pioneer Settlement was conducted by Team Leader, Glynis Pitts who spoke passionately about economic development, tourism and working effectively with a large volunteer program.   Glynis inspired participants with her view that “if you’re a good leader you can inspire others – you lead and listen to others.”

Involvement of local LMCLP Graduates is often a rich feature of program days and Swan Hill has a number of graduates who have gone on to significant roles in their community.  Participants enjoyed a reflection opportunity with Yvonne Jennings who graduated from the very first leadership program year in 1998, Councillor Chris Jeffrey, who was recently elected to Council after graduating from LMCLP last year, and Kurt Poltrock, leader of vibrant local business Grizzly Engineering who completed the program in 2009.

Swan Hill Rural City Council have long been sponsors of the program and participants enjoyed a session on the role of local government in building vibrant rural communities.  Deputy Mayor Ann Young, Cr Chris Jeffery, CEO John McLinden, and Economic and Community Development Manager Emma Crameri spoke about how council supports and builds vibrant communities through proactive communication, partnerships, advocacy and representation. Cr Ann Young advised the group to be proactive community leaders by “tak(ing) the bit between the teeth – nothing is gained by sitting back”.

Out and about in Swan Hill participants were blown away by the award-winning Heartbeat of the Murray Sound & Light show, and enjoyed the community story behind the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum where Daryl Allen (Museum Manager) used the museum to illustrate that striving for 10% growth a year, documenting success and failures and learning from them, will lead to a project that flourishes and is sustainable.

Participant Charlie Aves from Gisborne in the Macedon Ranges summed up the group’s learning from the two days: “Together we build vibrant communities. We so and heard so many examples of how, with respect and a shared vision great things can be achieved. Whether it was Harmony Day, the community radio, the pioneer settlement and the light show, Grizzly equipment, or the flying boat museum, the common thread was the sense of community, the respect for others within that community, and for the volunteers and workers who shared the vision and helped make it happen. You need to share the vision, and by respecting those around you, you can help to enable others to step up and help achieve that vision.”


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