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C21 return from the Kimberley

C21 return from the Kimberley

Volcanic eruptions have certainly never factored into the Australian Rural Leadership Program (ARLP) before, but for the 20th Program Cohort - just returned from their first session in the Kimberley - nature made this inspiring session just a little more challenging than usual.

From 19-31 May, 32 rural leaders from diverse industries and backgrounds immersed themselves in the spiritual, imposing surrounds of the Kimberley in Western Australia.

As the session which marks the start of the iconic ARLP - run in 59 days delivered in six sessions over 17 months - it is based heavily around challenge-based activities, self-awareness and communication.

What they usually don't face is an ash cloud disrupting flights right around northern Australia due to the eruption of the Sangeang Api volcano in Indonesia. Wreaking havoc echoing that of the Icelandic volcano of 2010, (although in a localised space), our leaders had to face one more challenge when the first session was complete: how to get home.

We are pleased to say that through a combination of patience and intrepid investigation of alternative routes, Course 21 participants and staff are all back home safe and sound.

After two intensive weeks spent delving into leadership thinking, problem solving and appreciating diversity, our leaders return with valuable new insights into their own ways of processing. The scope of the ARLP process and the impact it will have on each person's leadership journey also becomes more clear.

And what binds each leader most of all is their shared passion and commitment to working towards a more resilient rural Australia.

For cattle farmer and rural finance consultant Jennifer Wainwright of Bouldercombe, Queensland, taking part in Course 21 of the ARLP is both about giving back to her industry, as well as finding out more about her own leadership traits.

"Leadership in our industry will be critical to the protection and development of Australian agriculture as the best in the world ... I hope to gain skills that will give me guidance to navigate difficult circumstances while providing an opportunity for me to better understand others," Jennifer says.

For Outback Initiatives facilitator Russell Fisher, the culmination of his tenth year providing guidance and instruction as a part of the ARLP Kimberley session has driven home to him the high quality of leaders who take part in the program each year.

“Every person that comes on the ARLP is, in my view, already an extraordinary leader. They come to the Kimberley hungry to learn and grow and go back to their communities even better equipped and more effective than they already are," Russell says.
"What each leader finds in the Kimberley is an opportunity for deep personal reflection and rich feedback from others in an amazing setting. They are challenged to dig deep and discover their real strengths and through this experience come away with a greater sense of self-belief and an ability to fulfil their true potential."
Russell, who runs Rustybrown consulting, says that collectively, and with the 600+ leaders who have been there before Course 21, participants emerge with the "tantalising possibility of transforming their personal lives, the fortunes of their businesses and industries, the resilience of their communities and the destiny of the nation".
"To have a small part in this project as a facilitator is an incredible honour and responsibility," he says.
"Each time I am rewarded with the the inspiring and courageous personal journeys of a small group of leaders I have the privilege of working with. I also learn more about the richness and diversity of our natural and cultural heritage in ways few others get to experience. 
"And the more I do it, the more I am enriched, the better I perform and the more I want to give to rural and remote Australia”.
Graham Smith, who joined the Foundation as Manager of Leadership Programs at the start of the year, says his first experience guiding an ARLP cohort in the Kimberley was exceptionally positive.
"They're an excellent group of committed individuals who each show unique leadership strengths," Graham says.
"It really does drive home the value of this Program and the value of investing in leaders on the ground, to make a difference across rural industries and communities.
"I would trust every one of this cohort to stand in the shoes of others; to consider diverse view points and perspectives as they lead, and the journey has only just begun," he says.
The next ARLP session for Course 21 will take place in Adelaide over 17-24 August. Here, leaders focus on leadership models and theories, media training, communication skills and personal effectiveness and personality profiling.


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